2012 has been a colorful and fruitful year for the country. This is the year when our stock market reached it’s highest record all time, prompting good vibes for future investors. It is also marked by landmark bills and laws that has been passed and passed onto controversies, like the Anti-cyber Crime Law, Sin-Tax Bill, and the controversial Reproductive Health or RH Bill. This is also a momentous year for the government with the signing of the Bangsa Moro Framework Agreement and the success of #ItsMoreFunInThePhilippines campaign. Truly this is a great year our country will not forget.
The recent decision passed by the Senate Impeachment Court convicting then Chief Justice Corona can be traced to the involvement of 2 ladies, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales.
After more than 5 months of grueling trial, the Impeachment trial of the Chief Justice Renato Corona has finally came to its end. 23 Senators are present and have voted either to convict or acquit the accused Chief Justice.
The promulgation started with the prayer of Sen. Manny Villar then followed after by the open voting in alphabetical order. Each Senators are supposed to cast their votes and chose to explain it for 2 minutes but the presiding officer Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile ruled to have no time limit for their explanation. Sen.Edgardo Angara open the voting and ended by the presiding officer Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile.
And after the voting, the Senate Impeachment Court finds the respondent Chief Justice Renato C. Corona Guilty of the Article II of the Articles of Impeachment which is Culpable Violation of the Constitution and Betrayal of Public Trust for failure to disclose his Statement of Assets Liabilities and Networth. Senator Judges who voted to convict Corona were:
1. Sen. Edgardo J. Angara
2. Sen. Allan Peter Cayetano
3. Sen. Pia Cayetano
4. Sen. Franklin Drilon
5. Sen. Francis Escudero
6. Sen. Jinggoy Estrada
7. Sen. Teofisto Guingona III
8. Sen. Gregorio Honasan
9. Sen. Panfilo Lacson
10. Sen. Lito Lapid
11. Sen. Loren Legarda
12. Sen. Serge Osmena
13. Sen. Francis Pangilinan
14. Sen. Koko Pimentel
15. Sen. Ralph Recto
16. Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr.
17. Sen. Sonny Trillanes
18. Sen. Tito Sotto
19. Sen. Manny Villar
20. Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile
Meanwhile those who voted to Acquit the Chief Justice were
1. Sen. Joker Arroyo
2. Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago
3. Sen. Bongbong Marcos
Senate Impeachment Court’s decision final and un-appeallable thus it is expected to be executed immediately.
After 42 trial days, the Senate Impeachment court has finally came down to the final battle on the Impeachment Trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona. Both the prosecution and the defense panel laid their final oral arguments pertaining to the Impeachment Case of the Chief Justice. One hour for each side was given to voice their arguments and convince the Senator judges to vote either to convict or acquit the accused.
On the part of the prosecution the speakers were Lead Prosecutor Niel Tupas Jr., Deputy Prosecutor Rudy Fariñas and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte. On the other side, for the defense the chosen ones were Dean Ed Delos Angeles, Atty. Dennis Manalo and Lead Defense Counsel Ret. Justice Serafin Cuevas.
The prosecution reiterated that indeed there are malice in the intention of the Chief Justice not to disclose bulk of his assets. Rep. Fariñas in fact used the word “Palusot” for the excuses or allibis of the defense pertaining to his non-disclosure of the dollar and peso accounts. He enumerated several instances of “Palusot” by Corona because he cannot find any more creadible allibi as why he did not properly declared all his assets in his SALN. On Speaker Belmonte’s closing argument he appealed to the Senator Judges to see through the character of the accused Chief Justice. He also said it seemed the Chief Justice wants to be exempted in the SALN law, which is not good because he’s the highest magistrate and he should set good example for all.
On the other hand for the part of the defense, they banked on the argument that the Chief Justice’s non disclosure of some of his assets is protected by the FCD Law. They reiterated again and again that Corona has no obligation to disclose his dollar accounts because of the provisions on the FCD Law that prohibits disclosure of the foreign currency accounts. Another argument raised by the was, Is not disclosing his dollar accounts impeachable noting his interpretation of the FCD Law? They’ve appealed to the Senator judges to give the verdict of acquittal because although the Chief Justices admitted for not disclosing his dollars, it was done in good faith.
After the oral arguments of both panels, Senator judges were given the chance to ask clarificatory questions. But none of the 23 senators except the presiding judge Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile posted questions. He asked the defense some points on the FCD Law, if there will be undue injury on the part of the Chief Justice is he will declare the dollar accounts. That line of questioning somewhat hinted JPE’s stand on the case.
The trial adjourned much earlier than usual. And tomorrow will be the verdict day where the judges will vote to convict or acquit the Chief Justice.
After the walkout issue last Tuesday and after signing the hospital waiver, Chief Justice Renato Corona went back to the Senate Impeachment Court to continue with his testimony and to answer questions from prosecution’s cross examination and from the Senator Judges.
When he got back to the witness stand the defense manifested that they will no longer conduct any further direct examination on the Chief Justice. Because of the manifestation and the earlier manifestation of the prosecution that if in case no additional direct questioning from the defense they will waive cross examining the witness, thus became the case. The prosecution waive their chance to cross examine the Chief Justice and just relied on the testimonies and documents presented by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales.
During today’s trial, CJ Corona also signed and submitted (unconditionally) the waiver for his bank accounts which was later decided on by the Sen. Juan Ponce-Enrile not to act on it anymore.
Also during the break when the Senators are having caucus, the Impeachment court suddenly became a family reunion as the Basa and Corona family reconciled with each other. It was a surprise for many that after exchanges of not so good words for each other they finally patched things up and reconciled.
Several Senator judges posted questions on the Chief Justice mainly clarifying his reason why after admitting he has 3 dollar accounts did not declare it on his SALN. To which Corona answered, that those were covered by the Foreign Currency Act thus no need to disclose. During the questioning of Sen. Estrada regarding what he thought about Ombudsman Carpio-Morales motive or reason to testify against him, Corona mentioned that the current Ombudsman was never really his ally and he thought that she allowed herself to be used by Malacañang. He also told the court about Carpio-Morales’ retirement benefit request which the Chief Justice denied. That statement prompted the Ombudsman to went on a presscon to answer Corona’s accusations. In her own words she said “I am fuming mad, He’s a certified liar”. Carpio-Morales also said that the issue is not getting higher retirement benefit but Corona’s alleged cutting of benefit from the usual 1.5 million to 650 thousand pesos. She also said that she has 1 dollar account in BPI and that she disclosed it in her SALN.
The trial ended with defense submitting its formal offer of evidences, thus prompting the resting of its case. Impeachment trial will be back on Monday for the oral arguments and decision is expected to be promulgated on Tuesday.
After the “brave” move of the defense panel to present the accuse Chief Justice Renato Corona in his impeachment trial provided that the court will summon and ask several people to take the witness stand before him, they are now facing a dilemma they deemed not coming.
In today’s hearing former SC Justice and current Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales took the witness stand and it seemed the defense’s supposedly bombshell of presenting her eventually exploded in front of their face. In the direct examination being handled by another former SC Justice Serafin Cuevas, Carpio-Morales detailed the 82 dollar accounts under the name of the Chief Justice. During the course of her testimony she presented documents taken from the report of AMLC detailing the million dollar accounts of Corona which are not disclosed in his SALN. Cuevas in his line of questioning tried to discredit the Ombudsman, but he was unsuccessful and seemed not prepared for the answers being given by Carpio-Morales. There is also one instance when the presiding justice himself helped Cuevas to initiate question that qualified the lady Ombudsman as a hostile witness.
The trial also showed how the 2 former justices trade legal arguments to the point of arguing with each other. There are several times that they’ve bordered into discussing legal opinions as to the acquisition of the AMLC report which caught the impatience of some senator judges especially the presiding judge.
Another notable moment in today’s trial is the issue on the powerpoint presentation of the the Ombudsman’s findings. Cuevas was all-out in opposing it’s presentation pointing on its relevance forgetting their camp is the one who summoned the Ombudsman to testify on the alleged 10 million dollar. Because of this opposition, several senators stood up to allow its presentation including Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago who even got applauded by the gallery because of her approval. At the presiding judge Senator Juan Ponce Enrile put it to a vote to which all senators voted in favor of the Power Point presentation.
The trial ended at about 6:30 PM and will resume tomorrow at 2pm for the continuation of Carpio-Morales cross examination.
Meanwhile, after hearing the testimonies of the Ombudsman, Chief Justice immediately reacted saying her testimonies are hoax and malicious. In his statement he said “The initial testimony of the Honorable Ombudsman is quite unfortunate, if not very malicious. I don’t know how she came up with her own mathematical equation.”
He also said that they will debunk all those malicious figures and it proven wrong, he urges the Ombudsman to quite her post.
- Hostile witness Ombudsman drops bombshell on Corona (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- Battle of retired justices: Cuevas vs Carpio-Morales (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- Dean Laviña : It’s the moment of Truth (rappler.com)
- Day 37: Corona, may 82 dollar accounts -AMLC report (dzmm.abs-cbnnews.com)
The much awaited part of the Corona Trial will now come to realization as the Chief Justice’s lawyer confirmed that he will be testifying in the ongoing impeachment trial. Defense lawyer Atty. Jose Roy said they will present Chief Justice Renato Corona as their witness in the condition that several hostile witnesses, including Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales will also be presented in relation to Corona’s alleged million dollar bank deposits.
This is a welcome development in the seemingly lame presentation of the defense panel in the ongoing impeachment of the chief magistrate. In the several weeks that they’ve presented witnesses in defense to the accusations of the prosecution, there have been no solid arguments that will debunk his improper disclosure of his Statement of Assets, Liabities and Net Worth (SALN). It is very evident that the Senator Judges are getting impatient with the “peripherals” and “immaterial” witnesses being presented on the witness stand.
Now that the accused himself will testify, it will be a great chance for the defense to answer all the accusations, because there’s no more credible defense witness but the accused himself. Since the case is all about the CJ’s SALN there will be no more perfect person to answer about its discrepancies but he himself. Should they’ve presented him earlier, I think the trial will be on its final part now.
I don’t want to insinuate but I think the defense is loosing cards at this point and they can no longer find any valid and clear defense with regards to the Article 2 so they don’t have any choice but to present the Chief Justice. But I think it’s a good tactic to have him testify because he has the direct knowledge of it. If he will be able to explain anything about his SALN and its discrepancies and it will be that convincing, that will definitely sway the tempo of the trial. I just hope that indeed he has that bullet to fire-out all those accusations leveled against him, because as of now his defense wasn’t able to totally counter the charges being laid by the prosecution panel.
“There is no better defense than the main accuse personally defending himself”
What seemed to be an ordinary or much lazy (since prosecution already rested their case) day in the senate impeachment court became much more exciting that can be compared to a most awaited boxing match.
Senator- Judge Miriam Defensor – Santiago erupted again caused by her disgust following yesterday’s move by the prosecution panel to terminate their presentation of evidence and dropping of 5 out of the original 8 articles of impeachment against the Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona. In her speech, she lecture the prosecution on the right manner of presenting a case in court. She lashed and lamented the way the prosecution panel handled its case against the Chief Justice. For several occasions Miriam acted the same demeanor, fiesty and sour, but this day became a different story when she uttered a curse word ‘GAGO’ directed to the prosecution counsels.
Deputy lead prosecutor Rep. Rudy Farinas thereafter stood and humbly asked the good senator if that word GAGO can be stricken out of the record as it seemed in appropriate to have it in their journal to which Santiago did not object and then Sen. Enrile asked the senate secretariat to remove that word from the record.
But the aggravating circumstance came when Sen. Jinggoy Estrada stood up and asked private prosecutor Vitaliano Aguirre about his gesture of covering his ears while Santiago is speaking. When formally asked by Enrile to explain, Aguirre said he did it purposely because he cannot anymore contain the tongue lashing of the senator and he felt disrespected for the part of the prosecution lawyers. He said respect should be given to anyone and that if she wants to be respected she should have shown respect also to the prosecutors. That again caught the ire of Santiago and asked the court to cite him in contempt. She even went on to the place of Aguirre and lamented him for what he did, but the other senators and prosecutors immediately proceeded on the scene to appease the two.
Afterwards, Farinas stood up and spoke on behalf of the whole prosecution team asking apology for the mis demeanor of one of its members. Enrile accepted the apology but said they will have to enforce respect to the institution and its members thus citing Aguirre in contempt with penalty that will be discussed during their caucus on Tuesday.
Aguirre may be wrong in acting that way but we cannot also say that Miriam is right all the time. Yes she is a senator-judge and she ought to be respected not only for her person but for her position, but sometimes she really get over board. We know her for her feisty and strong personality but there are good ways at lecturing people (whom you think are stupid) that will not somehow degrade their dignity as a person.
“I speak to everyone in the same way, whether he is the garbage man or the president of the university.” – Albert Einstein
- Atty Vitaliano Aguirre vs Sen Miriam Defensor Santiago (arkhilario.com)
- Last Straw (1rgcruz.wordpress.com)
- Lawyer cited for contempt for playing deaf to senator’s tirades(inquirer.net)
- #CoronaTrial Day 26 with video highlights (rappler.com)