Chief Justice Renato Corona replied to President Benigno Aquino’s speech in La Consolacion College with a challenge to Aquino to disclose his own statement of assets, liabilities and networth (SALn), bank accountsand psychological records. Here is Corona’s statement below in Pilipino with Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte reply.
THIS IS THE TRANSLATED VERSION OF CHIEF JUSTICE RENATO CORONA’S FEBRUARY 17, 2012 STATEMENT ANSWERING THE PRESIDENT’S LA CONSOLACION SPEECH.
Via Wilfred Avila
I am calling on our President not to meddle, pre-empt and influence the Senate Impeachment Court. There is a process to these impeachment proceedings, and that is written in our Constitution and the Rules of the Senate.
Wasn’t it you who chose this step and brought it to the Senate? Let us not allow this hearing to go far from the Impeachment Court and use media to judge me. Let us allow the case to move forward based on the Rule of Law and its rightful process. As you once said, “it is best if we all watch and keep silent first.”
As to what you said (at La Consolacion) “It would seem that we are being led astray so we can lose interest in the case.” There is no one else to blame but your very own Prosecution team who continuously bring out false lists of my properties, print out my salary to show that I do not have the capacity to purchase, yet, not including the overall situation, and in the end, brought out falsified documents from the bank. Who, then, is the one responsible for fooling the people?
As President of our country, you do not need “to lighten up and straighten out the issue that is determinedly derailed by some.” That is the duty of the Senate Impeachment Court. Your duty is to seek solutions to the worsening poverty and hunger of our people, the never-ending rise of gasoline and other prime commodities, the continued demolition of the houses of the poor and the slow response to aid for those who have been hit by calamaties brought about by disregard for our environment. This is what you must focus on, sir!
Why do you teach the youth to judge when they do not know the whole truth, when only one side is still being heard? Is this the “justice and fair play” you teach the young? Give me, sir, the opportunity to give my side, present my evidence, answer your baseless charges, and to bring out the truth. This is true justice and based on our Constitution.
If you find the hearing of the case you brought against me to be slow, the solution is in the hands of your prosecutors!
I bring out my SALN. I have not hidden this. My not having this printed out is based on a ruling of the Supreme Court of over two decades now, I was not even a magistrate then. I will explain my SALN when my time and opportunity comes, as dictated by the process of the impeachment proceedings.
Probably, it would be best if you, Mr. President, bring out your SALN, and explain it to the people. Maybe, bring out your bank accounts and psychological records that have been an issue for so long. We have the duty to show our people that we are of sound mind!
Now, regarding what you said on the case of Rabe v. Flores, where the court interpreter was removed from service, maybe your brilliant lawyers should have explained that Ms. Flores was removed not only for non-declaration of her SALN and her renting out. She was removed because of her “double compensation,” or salaries primarily, or receiving salary twice, one from the town of Panabo, Davao, and the other from the court!
I am with you in stating that we should not allow to “continue a system where one is oppressed.” I have only abut 20 in my defense that serve me for free, against 188 congressmen and 60, more or less, private prosecutors, who are all paid from the cofferes of the country. Let’s add to this the BIR and LTO Commissioners, LRA Administrator, Registers of Deeds, BID Commissioner, and many mor officials and men of government that is sent out to look for more wrong-doings of myself and my family.
You are using the power and might of the entire government machinery to abuse, coerce and humliate me and my family. Is this fair play? Is this the “Daang Matuwid?”
I am also calling on our people. The President controls the entire Executive Department. He also controls the House of Representatives. Let us not allow him to also handle the Senate. Let us not permit him to handcuff the Supreme Court and the entire Judiciary. This is for our democracy. This is for all of us.
Tugon ng Punong Mahistrado sa Talumpati ng Pangulo sa La Consolacion College tungkol sa Impeachment Proceedings (ika-17 ng Pebrero, 2012)
Ako po ay nananawagan sa ating pangulo na huwag pakialaman, pangunahan at impluwensiyahan ang Senate Impeachment Court. Mayroon pong proseso ang impeachment proceedings, at iyan po ay nakasaad sa ating Saligang Batas at sa mga alituntunin at kalakaran sa Senado. Hindi po ba’t kayo ang pumili ng hakbang na ito at nagdulog nito sa Senado? Huwag po natin ilayo ang usapin sa proseso ng Impeachment Court at idaan sa media ang paghusga sa akin. Pabayaan po nating umusad ang kaso nang ayon sa batas at sa proseso nito. Gaya po ng una ninyong nasabi, higit na makabubuti kung kayo po ay “magmasid at manahimik muna.”
Doon po sa mga nabanggit ninyong “tila ba sadya tayong hinihilo o inililigaw para mawalan ng interes,” wala po tayong dapat sisihin diyan kung hindi ang inyong mga taga-usig na siyang naglabas ng huwad na listahan ng aking mga ari-arian, naglathala ng aking sahod upang ipakita na wala akong kakayahang bumili, nguni’t hindi naman isinama ang pangkalahatang sitwasyon, at nitong huli, nagharap ng mga palsipikadong dokumento ng bangko. Sino po ba ang talagang nanlilinlang ng taong bayan?
Bilang pangulo ng bayan, hindi po ninyo kailangang “liwanagin ang dapat liwanagin, at ituwid ang isyung pilit dinidiskaril ng ilan.” Tungkulin po iyan ng Senate Impeachment Court. Ang tungkulin po ninyo ay hanapan ng lunas ang lumalalang kahirapan at pagkagutom ng marami nating mamamayan, walang humpay na pagtaas ng presyo ng gasolina at ng ibang pangunahing bilihin, patuloy na demolisyon ng tirahan ng mga maralita, at mabagal na tugon sa mga nasalanta ng kalamidad dala ng kapabayaan sa kalikasan. Itong mga ito po ang dapat ninyong pagtuunan ng pansin.
Bakit po ninyo tinuturuan ang kabataan na maghusga na hindi alam ang buong katotohanan, na iisang panig pa lang ang nadidinig? Ganito po bang “hustisya” at “fair play” ang tinuturo ninyo sa kabataan? Bigyan ninyo po ako ng pagkakataon na magbigay ng aking panig, magharap ng aking ebidensiya, sagutin ang inyong mga walang basehang paratang, at ilahad ang katotohanan. Ito po ang tunay na katarungan at ang naaayon sa ating Saligang Batas.
Kung kayo po ay nababagalan na sa pag-usad ng kasong isinampa ninyo laban sa akin, ang solusyon ay nasa kamay ng inyong mga taga-usig.
Ako po ay naglabas na ng aking SALN. Hindi ko po ito itinatago. Ang hindi po paglathala nito ay ayon sa nabuong patakaran ng Korte Suprema dalawang dekada na ang nakalipas, hindi pa po ako mahistrado. Ang SALN ko po ay aking ipaliliwanag pagdating ng aking oras o pagkakataon, ayon sa proseso ng impeachment proceedings. Marahil, higit na makabubuti kung ilabas na rin ninyo, Ginoong Pangulo, ang inyong SALN, at ipaliwanag ito sa taong-bayan. Siguro, isama ninyo na rin ang inyong bank accounts at psychological records na matagal ng isyu. Mayroon po tayong obligasyon na ipakita sa taong-bayan na maayos ang ating pagiisip.
Hinggil po doon sa nabanggit ninyong kaso na Rabe v. Flores, na kung saan ang isang court interpreter ay natanggal sa serbisyo, dapat po sigurong maipaliwanag sa inyong mabuti ng inyong mga magagaling na abogado na si Bb. Flores ay natanggal sa serbisyo hindi lamang dahil sa hindi niya dineklara sa kanyang SALN ang kanyang paupahan. Si Bb. Flores po ay natanggal dahil sa pangunahing dahilan na tumanggap po siya ng “double compensation” o sahod ng dalawang beses, isa galing sa bayan ng Panabo, Davao, at yung isa mula sa korte.
Sang-ayon po ako sa inyo na dapat hindi na payagang “magpatuloy ang sistema kung saan may nanlalamang at nilalamanagan.” Nasa mga 20 po lamang ang aking mga tagapagtanggol na nagseserbisyo ng libre, laban sa 188 congressmen at humigit kumulang na 60 private prosecutors, lahat sumasahod sa kaban ng bayan. Ito po ba ay tama? Idagdag pa po natin diyan ang BIR at LTO Commissioners, LRA Administrator, Registers of Deeds, BID Commissioner, at marami pang ibang opisyal at kawani ng pamahalaan na inuutusan upang hanapan ako at ang aking buong pamilya ng mga kamalian.
Ginagamit na po ninyo ang buong puwersa ng gobyerno upang ako at ang aking buong pamilya ay apihin at pagmalupitan. Ito po ba ang patas na laban? At matuwid na daan?
Nananawagan din po ako sa taong-bayan. Kontrolado po ng ating pangulo ang buong Executive Department. Kontrolado rin po niya ang House of Representatives. Huwag po nating payagan na mahawakan pa niya ang Senado. Huwag po tayong pumayag na posasan niya ang Korte Suprema at buong hudikatura. Ito po ay para sa ating demokrasya. Ito po ay para sa ating lahat.
On the on the statement of Mr. Corona,
[February 17, 2012]
Despite the lengthiness of Mr. Corona’s recent statement, he remains deaf to the basic question foremost in the public’s mind: Why is there a discrepancy between what he disclosed in his SALN, and the wealth and properties that have surfaced in the course of his trial? And more of this wealth is being revealed with every day that passes.
Instead of insulting the branches of our government and its agencies; instead of agitating the masses to attend his rallies—it would have been a simple matter to explain where all the money in his accounts came from. He has said that he will respond to every allegation; and yet he himself filed a self-serving petition at the Supreme Court to halt the impeachment trial.
Mr. Corona continues to deflect public attention from the real issues. We repeat: This is not personal; it is a fight for our justice system. It is dismaying to hear from the Chief Justice the same lines we have heard from Mrs. Arroyo. If he had only used this statement to clear his name, then public discourse about this issue would not have been diminished. Has anything good come out of Mr. Corona’s statement? No.
We have complete confidence in the Senate, which, as the representatives of the Filipino people, will determine whether Mr. Corona deserves to retain his position. We leave it to the Filipino people to judge if Mr. Corona’s statement displays the dignity expected from an Honorable Chief Justice.