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.
At past 2PM, Corona took the witness stand but before the trial started, he ask the permission of the presiding judge Senator Juan Ponce – Enrile if he can read his opening statement to which Enrile permitted.
Corona’s speech lasted for 3 hours, debunking all allegations being hurled against him in the past 5 months of the trial. He enumerated several issues which according to him are lies and results of fabricated evidences by the current government. He again reiterated that his impeachment was brought about by “Hacienderong Pangulo’s” vengeance to their decision of giving back Hacienda Luisita to the farmers. He also denied the testimony of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales which he earlier called “lantern of lies”, saying he has no 82 dollar accounts but only 4 since most of them were already closed. In answering why he didn’t include it to his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth, he invoked the provisions on the Bank Secrecy Law which according to him is absolute. With regards to the peso accounts which according to him was not 31 but only 3, he explained that those were shared accounts meaning those were not his sole money thus should not be part or should not be included in his SALN.
After his lengthy statement, towards the end, he showed a waiver where he signed in-front of the public which will open all his bank accounts for scrutiny but to the condition that all the 188 impeachment complainants and Sen. Frank Drilon will also sign the same waiver for their bank accounts. After that challenge, he addressed the people and the court that “He is the Chief Justice and he needed to be excused”, then walking out of the court without officially being discharged.
This action of the Chief Justice caused commotion in the Senate Impeachment Court and caught the ire of the presiding judge who eventually asked the Senate Sgt at Arms to block all exits in the Senate and asked the defense panel to brought back the Chief Justice to the court.
After several minutes, Corona came back to the court in a wheelchair because according to his lawyers he suffered from hypoglycemia brought about by not eating lunch. On that moment lead defense counsel apologized to Enrile saying the actions of their client was not planned and in no way an act to disrespect the impeachment court.
Enrile accepted the apology but cautioned Corona’s lawyer’s that he wants respect to be accorded to the court as he accorded to the Chief Justice. He also commanded the defense panel to present Corona tomorrow for cross-examination or else he may be moved to strike-out all the statements issued by Corona in today’s trial.
In a 14-0 decision, the Supreme Court en banc has affirmed its previous rulings on the issue of the distribution of Hacienda Luisita lands to the farmers. Promulgated at the Supreme Court office in Baguio City, the high court upheld its rulings last July 5,2011 and Nov 22, 2011 giving the farmers the right to own the land that they till.
Now the the SC have decided and its assumed to be final and executory, the 4,900 hectares of lands will now be distributed to the 6,296 farm workers beneficiaries of Hacienda Luisita Inc. It can be remembered that on Nov. 22 the Supreme Court revoked HLI’s stock distribution plan. It ruled that all of Luisita’s agricultural lands should be awarded to the farm workers thus junking the stock distribution option.
Another issue resolved with the decision is the valuation of government’s compensation to HLI. In the partial motion for reconsideration and clarification filed by the HLI Management they are asking for a compensation of at least 5 billion pesos or based on fair market value as of January 2, 2006, the date when the Notice of Coverage for the sugar estate’s compulsory land distribution was issued.
But on a vote of 8-6, the SC en banc denied HLI’s plea and affirmed its earlier ruling that the date of valuation should be from Nov 21, 1989 up to the date of issuance of the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council’s (PARC) Resolution approving HLI’s stock distribution plan. Voting in favor of the 1989 valuation were Chief Justice Corona and Justices Presbitero Velasco, Jr., Teresita Leonardo-De Castro, Arturo Brion, Roberto Abad, Martin Villarama, Jr., Jose Perez, and Jose Mendoza. The 6 justices on the other hand who opted to refer the land valuation to a special agrarian court were Justices Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Mariano Del Castillo, and Pres. Aquino’s 3 appointees: Maria Lourdes Sereno, Bienvenido Reyes, and Estela Perlas-Bernabe.
Meanwhile the HLI said they will abide by the Supreme court decision. Speaking in behalf of the company HLI spokeman Antonio Ligon said the company has always believed that “the purpose of the law is to give justice and equal rule for everyone.The application of law in this case is no exception. The Supreme Court has spoken and if that is the guidelines as to the determination of just compensation, then we will abide and will do whatever is required of HLI”.
- SC to issue final ruling on Hacienda Luisita Tuesday (newsinfo.inquirer.net)