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.
Two senators who were former allies are now “enemies” from different sides. In his privilege speech yesterday, Sen. Antronio Trillanes IV, bolted out from Senate majority to say his distrust and lost of confidence in the leadership of Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile.
Trillanes accused Enrile of being an Arroyo ally for allegedly railroading the bill that will divide Camarines Sur into 2 provinces, to which the Senate President denied. Enrile on his part accused Trillanes of lobbying for the interest of China over the dispute in Panatag Shoal.
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.
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.
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)
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)
After 25 trial days the prosecution panel finally decided to rest their case on the articles of impeachment against Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona.
Just at the start of the trial, the day seemed leading to some unusual events. Before it can take-off in today’s trial the presiding justice needed to suspend the start of the trial because of some logistical problems from the defense panel with most of their counsels including lead defense counsel former Justice Serafin Cuevas stranded in Manila traffic due to the evangelical event of Iglesia ni Cristo in Quirino Grandstand.
But to compensate for the waiting of Cuevas’ arrival they agreed to have the prosecution presented it’s next witness pending the cross examination of ABS-CBN cameraman Ed Llosala. Prosecution then presented Malacanang Records Officer Elenita Gatbonton who testified and authenticated documents that pertained to Corona’s appointment to the Supreme Court as Chief Justice. Thereafter they presented David Piedad and Rochelle Mendez both employees of ABS-CBN who testified on the veracity of the videos being presented by the prosecution.
And just some minutes before 5 o’clock lead prosecutor Rep. Niel Tupas took the podium and issued a manifestation that they are resting their case, thus causing shock and amazement and surprise from people inside the impeachment court.
According to Tupas, they have already presented enough and overwhelming evidences just in the Article 2 to convict the Chief Justice. He said they’ve already presented 25 witnesses and hundreds of documentary evidences for Articles 2,3 and 7 and they believed that those were already enough to get a conviction thus no need for them to present evidences on other Articles. In effect they were also withdrawing those articles that were yet to be presented such as Articles 1,4,5,6, and 8. Several times the presiding justice Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile asked Tupas if in fact they are “dropping” the other articles and Tupas replied in the affirmative.
As for the defense panel’s reaction, they said it was a welcome development for them. Now that the prosecution rested their case, they can now present their defense against all the allegations leveled against their client.
Now that the ball is transferred to the defense side, let’s see if they have substantial evidence to re-butt all the allegation and charges against the Chief Justice.