For Friday, Jan. 20, 2012
Good Morning Philippines
ON SECOND THOUGHT
The biggest surprise to a large number of people who were made to believe Chief Justice (CJ) Corona was guilty a thousand times over is the possibility that he may not be guilty, after all, of any of the charges filed against him. In the weeks in between the time he was impeached by the Lower House to the time the trial commenced in the Senate a few days ago, the prosecutors, Malacanang, and what is now known as the “yellow media” – Philippine Daily Inquirer and ABS-CBN – bombarded the public with sensational stories of a thoroughly corrupt Chief Justice, owner of an unbelievable number of condos and houses. He was not afforded the chance to adequately reply. We remember the prosecutors asserting they had a plethora of evidence when they went all over town via radio and TV waving documents, releasing pictures to the media, and having the public believe the case was a done deal. It turns out, the shameless assault was replete with spurious land titles, a fabricated World Bank report, false accusations regarding his sterling academic achievements, and other tall tales that put him in the worst light. It was obviously a blitzkrieg designed to traduce, malign, and vilify CJ Corona enough to make him, or anyone for that matter, resign. Didn’t work.
Now, at the on-set of the trial, the Congressmen are pleading with the Senator Judges to reconsider the barring of private prosecutors from making legal arguments on the prosecutor’s behalf and restricting their participation to witness and evidentiary presentation. They were ridiculed on the second day of trial when their first presentation of documentary evidence did not have proper authentication and their unpreparedness was glaring to say the least. From hubris and arrogance during the days leading to the trial, plummeting down to begging for help to allow their private lawyers to take over has not been lost on the public. The prosecutors have had no choice but to come back down to earth seeing how inadequate their capabilities were against a defense “dream team” of experienced, knowledgeable, seasoned, and brilliant lawyers with beauty to boot in the person of Karen Jimeno, the youngest among the team and a graduate from the UP College of Law, cum laude, with a Master of Laws from Harvard University. All that and with dignified humility.
In addition, the outrage the Congressmen had hoped to incite in the public has now been divided: yes, there is public outrage against Corona but also another growing one, this time, against the prosecutors themselves.
And now that the presiding officer in the trial, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, has put his foot down on attempts at “trial by publicity,” and asked all involved to refrain from commenting on the merits of the case while the case is at bar or sub judice, the prosecutors’ enthusiasm has palpably been reduced if not deflated.
But the Chief Justice remains the underdog in this fight, which is not necessarily a position undesirable in this land of “lovers of underdogs” — the reason being because the great majority of Filipinos are exactly in that situation – underdogs to a small elite – and they live it everyday, for generations, and with much suffering. More are now saying that instead of being embroiled in his personal battles against political enemies, the President should have put more time in addressing climate change related calamities and in improving the economy and the lives of the people. Moreover, if the populace begin to believe Corona’s assertion, not exclusive to him, that this is all about Hacienda Luisita, the anger of the people could be worse than a woman scorned. There is more discontent with government than is generally perceived, amongst the people hidden underneath the “yellow propaganda blanket” which is driven by a powerful newspaper daily, a broadcast network, and the Palace itself.
The Hacienda Luisita farmers may still get their “just deserts” before the family of P-Noy gets what the President believes should be awarded his family. The amount of the “just compensation” is P12B minimum – it is, at least, what the family reckons is “just” and PNoy appointee, Justice Serreno, agrees with; compared to P350M as pegged by Corona and 9 other Justices; while the remaining 3 Justices opine that the DAR should be left alone to determine its valuation; and the last one to complete all 15 Justices has abstained from voicing his opinion. Hacienda Luisita is the controversial land that is the “ancestral home” of two Presidents, Cory and PNoy. It has provided the Cojuangco family — the President’s family — with their wealth, prestige, and symbol of power since 50 years ago, right around the time PNoy was born. The Supreme Court will be making the decision on the correct valuation of the land soon, either under the baton of PNoy, or of Corona. That’s the road, straight or otherwise, this impeachment trial will inevitably lead to.