Corona on the night after the verdict

This is a post from Wilfred Avila, a friend of Renato Corona . I removed some names in this post

Immediately after the trial, a few other friends and I ate a humble dinner together commiserating with the loss and the pain we all commonly felt.

After the dinner, we together with our children trooped to Medical City in the hope that we could lift the spirits of the Chief Justice.

We found old friends there. The entire Defense Panel and the close supporters of the Cj was there. Justice Midas Marquez was all there together with Carla (his daughter) and his son-in-law, Jojo Castillo who entertained us first since the Chief Justice was closeted with his attorneys. . We were all shocked to learn that Francis (his eldest son) was also hospitalized for very high blood pressure levels. Francis is also confined at Medical City at an adjacent room to the CJ. We all felt a little hesitant because we did not know how to begin a conversation to lift one’s dead spirit. I simply suggested that we say why we were there and that would be that.

We didn’t have to say anything. As soon as the Chief Justice saw me, he immediately approached me and hugged me so tight. We both started shedding soft but painful tears. Without a word, we told each other what we both felt. Everyone looked on and started to cry as well. Hugs followed . No eye was dry.

Yet, in all of that, I realized I was in front of a truly strong and principled man. He may have lost in the trial but he was not a beaten man. He was truly far from that. We gathered in the waiting room where he addressed us. Yes, he said, we accept the verdict but this is not the end of our fight. This is only the beginning. Cristina Corona joined us and gave everyone a strong and kind smile. I guess she must have realized that we were all hurting like her.

For a while, I felt like I was in a courtroom listening to the argument of the accused. He reviewed the case for us and told us that the decision was all based on the wrong premise. He began waxing poetic and romantic lines when he started to speak of the support of Cristina and his family.

I will speak of all of this in my blog on the last day later. Suffice it to say that I underlined that his friends and ALL OF US continue to support him. That it has turned into a personal level for most us cannot be denied.

Earlier in the evening, the Chief Justice issued a press statement snippets of which I quote in full here:

Saying he was sad but ready to offer his life for his country, Chief Justice Renato Corona, ousted on a 20-3 vote by the Senate on Tuesday, said he was leaving his fate to God and the Filipino people and hoped the “hatred” that had fuelled his impeachment would ease.

Corona reminded the people that he submitted himself to the impeachment process, even though he said he knew that the President would use government agencies in order to pin him down – the House of Representatives, the Bureau of Internal Revenue, Land Registration Authority, the Ombudsman; and resort to feeding dubious documents to the media.

He said the leak of unverified, undocumented documents to the media, and not to the court, made him wonder, “If their case was strong, why did they have to invent documents?” The statement, issued from his hospital room at the Medical City, was mostly in Filipino.

He said the impeachment trial that began January 16 and ended on Day 44 with the promulgation, has burdened the nation for a long time. “Let’s stop the politics, personal attacks. Let’s quell the poison of unabated anger and hatred,” Corona said.

He said it was time to focus on the serious challenges to “our life as a nation.”

The statement is seen as a signal that he would not resort to an appeal to the Supreme Court, as his chief counsel, former Justice Serafin Cuevas, had earlier indicated. This tack was seen to create a constitutional crisis.

“Ipinapaubaya ko na po sa ating Poong Maykapal at sa taong bayan na higit na makapangyarihan sa ating demokrasya ang aking kinabukasan at ang kinabukasan ng ating Hudikatura (I am leaving my future and the future of our Judiciary to God and the people, who are the supreme authority in our democracy),” Corona said.

“I am innocent,” he added. “There is no truth to the charges against me in the Articles of Impeachment. My conscience is clear.”

At the same time, Corona also called for reconciliation, urging people to “turn our backs” on the past five months to “rebuild the torn fabric and focus our attention once more on all the challenges and promises the Philippines faces in the next century.”

He thanked the three senators who voted to acquit him — Joker Arroyo, Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

He also sought the forgiveness of his wife, children and grandchildren “sapagkat sa aking pagtatanggol sa kasarinlan ng Hudikatura ay nailagay ko sila sa kalbaryong hindi naman nila kinailangang maranasan (because in my defense of the independence of the judiciary I placed them in a Calvary that they did not need to suffer).”

Yes, the Chief Justice continue to believe in his (OUR) fight. This travesty cannot be allowed to go on. 2013 is not far away in the horizon and, already, the magicians of PCOS is strengthening their position to take all the positions available in this country.

Thank you Chief Justice for giving us a reason to be proud of our country once again! And, YES, we are proud of you!

Photo via Camille Zamora