#Cjtrialwatch: Acquit Him

Update: Please check my other article on Close vote expected for Corona Impeachment trial

I will not deal with legalities that the senator-judges need to confront with but after today’s testimony, I am satisfied with Corona’s answers to my letter:”Dear CJ Corona: three questions on my mind“.

I felt Corona was innocent of the Articles of Impeachment but I was not absolutely sure until today because I needed some answers. A few days before his court appearance, I wrote three questions that I hoped he would reveal to the Senate Impeachment Court:

I want to hear both sides before I form my own opinion about your guilt or innocence. Now that I will finally hear you testify, I just have three simple questions that will hopefully be asked by the Senate Impeachment Court for the benefit of the Court of Public Opinion, as follows:

1.Explain contents of your SALN so that the public will be enlightened on what is there and what has been omitted. If there is an omission, why?

2. Admit or deny the existence of dollar accounts and explain.

3. Explain the role you played in the conflict of the Basa Guidote issue.

In fact, Atty. Raul Pangalangan explains the same three issues on my mind.

Those portions pertain to three issues: the Basa-Guidote expropriation money, the duty to disclose dollar accounts in the statements of assets, liabilities and net worth, and the question of whether the SALN omissions rise to the level of an impeachable offense.

I thought the walkout issue and the conditional waiver hurt the Chief Justice even more. I was praying that he would come back and explain. Atty. Pangalangan adds “For his own sake, he must appear today, waive his confidentiality, and then look us straight in the eye.”

I teared as I listened to Corona apologize for his behavior last Tuesday and relate the pain he had been suffering the past five months. It is not easy to go through months of witch-hunt, illegally obtained evidence and the trial by publicity from media and black propaganda from certain sectors.

Acquit Corona

I felt his testimony was direct, honest and sincere.

After 5 months of full coverage, research, daily discussions with my lawyer-husband (to understand the law) and an intimate interview with Corona, I believe he should be acquitted.

What finally sealed my vote of acquittal is when Corona cited Article XI, Sec. 17 of the Philippine Constitution on declaring assets: the declaration should be made AS PROVIDED BY LAW.

Here is Senator Kiko Pangilinan asking the Chief Justice on which to follow the Foreign Currency Deposit Act or the Constitution

Section 17. A public officer or employee shall, upon assumption of office and as often thereafter as may be required by law, submit a declaration under oath of his assets, liabilities, and net worth. In the case of the President, the Vice-President, the Members of the Cabinet, the Congress, the Supreme Court, the Constitutional Commissions and other constitutional offices, and officers of the armed forces with general or flag rank, the declaration shall be disclosed to the public in the manner provided by law.

“As provided by law”..the magic phrase that caught my attention yesterday and which stumped Senator Kiko Pangilinan.

The Foreign Currency Deposit Act or RA 6426 IS that law that defines what is exempt from the asset declaration. The foreign currency deposits secrecy law OVERRIDES the 1987 Constitution so he need not declare his dollar deposits.

Section 8. Secrecy of foreign currency deposits. – All foreign currency deposits authorized under this Act, as amended by PD No. 1035, as well as foreign currency deposits authorized under PD No. 1034, are hereby declared as and considered of an absolutely confidential nature and, except upon the written permission of the depositor, in no instance shall foreign currency deposits be examined, inquired or looked into by any person, government official, bureau or office whether judicial or administrative or legislative, or any other entity whether public or private;

My twitter friend @Tito_ces asks “If you think you are following a law that is in conflict with another law who is there to tell you you are wrong? Bring the issue to the Supreme Court”.

Will the Senators judge the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the arbiter of the law, as wrong in his interpretation, and convict him based on that? I will leave the legal interpretation to them. (Update: I wrote more about the legal analysis in this article: Close vote expected for Corona Impeachment trial)

What my friends think

The moment I tweeted this, I received a stream of tweets that affirmed my vote for acquittal. Limited with 140 characters in Twitter, I turned to facebook to ask some of my friends if they thought it should be acquittal. Here are some reactions:

Pedobear thinks “He should be acquitted since impeachment is a tool for the Cojuangco-Aquino payback. Plus, they don’t want someone who will spoil their plans to punish their enemies, especially Gloria Arroyo.”

Patricia Ilagan adds “ab initio the impeachment complaint was unconstituional, and cases filed in the SC in this regard have not been acted on. there is no case. and even the sham senate impeachment court has not established “proof beyond reasonable doubt” even for the AoI that have been shortlisted because they couldn’t find or fabricate evidence needed for probable cause. acquittal or conviction? for what? there is No Case!”

Adolfo Mortera has a longer explanation:

The law should be interpreted strictly, and the evidence presented should adhere to jurisprudence. The impeachment court should disregard illegally seized or obtained documents, like the AMLC report presented by the Ombudsman because it’s not covered by the articles of impeachment in the first place. The Senate should acquit the chief justice if it truly champions the bill of rights, and due process in filing the impeachment complaint, which was filed without due hearing on the floor.

This government has marshalled the whole government machinery to remove Corona. This is a sham impeachment, intended to keep the yellow administration in power, control the 3 branches of government, and make the judiciary subservient to the executive. It’s tyranny.

Edvicious Cruz explains ” He should be acquitted because the very first step of the impeachment process was unconstitutional and I refer to the “verification” of the Articles of Impeachment which is required by the Constitution but was not read much less, accomplished by the signatories by their own admission.”

Dario Borje says “Acquit Him, conviction will not help us and no effect, only Pnoy and his men will benefit from it and would definitely worsen the division among Filipinos. But if that 188 + 1 will sign the waiver, plus the Pres and his Cabinet, our country will balloon to prosperity ”

A good day

It was a great day. The Basa family’s move to forgive and reunite with each other is humbling. The unconditional waiver on Corona’s bank accounts shows that he is the first public official to be open to transparency. His humility in begging for forgiveness started the Impeachment trial in a positive note. Lastly, the Senator judges were mostly fair in their questioning.

I believe forgiveness lifted a burden from Corona’s heart that enabled him to give an “honest laying-everything-including-my-soul-on-the-table testimony”.

Benign0 added that “Chief Justice Renato Corona may be a lawyer, but apparently he was well aware that he was surrounded by emos today.”

True, I may have been caught by the emotions but I have been covering the Impeachment trials since day 1 and analyzing the merits of the case. In fact, I went all the way to get Corona’s side . I was just waiting for his testimony to clear some doubts on my mind.

One thing good that sticks out today and let me quote Benign0 again:

Who would have thought that Chief Justice Renato Corona might even come out of this a hero — the first top government official to voluntarily and unconditionally open his bank accounts to the public to precipitate long overdue transparency across the public service? So ironic that the man who President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino III singled out as the biggest roadblock to making good on his Daang Matuwid “straight path” campaign promise would actually be the one who’d blaze a trail for it.

In fact, Corona beat the President first into signing the waiver. Two years after his promise, the President still has to sign that bank waiver. Maybe the president forgot about this so let me paste it here:

“I am willing if necessary (to waive my rights under the Bank Secrecy Law)…but I will not presume for others who will join government,” he said in the Second Integrity and Human Rights Conference at Hotel Intercontinental Manila.

If the president signs this waiver, maybe he will inspire others to follow suit.

With Corona’s waiver, it is a sign of hope. The call for greater accountability and transparency is actually starting to gain ground .

Awaiting the verdict

Though I believe Chief Justice Corona should be acquitted, it is the duty of the Senate to deliver this verdict. I pray they vote with their conscience, decide based on legally obtained evidence and testimonies of credible witnesses.

As my facebook friends said “I hope the senators reflect very deeply before making up their minds. They should look very seriously into their souls for answers.”

Here are the twitter reactions in my Twitter mentions:

Here are the twitter reactions from Julius Babao:

Photos via Senate.gov.ph and ABS-CBN/senate pool