For Feb. 8, 2012/ Wednesday
Good Morning Philippines
ON SECOND THOUGHT

The issue of what standards or benchmark to use in determining when a SALn is considered properly and accurately disclosed can easily be arrived at by a comparative presentation of several SALn’s to show what a typically correct disclosure looks like. Since the requirement for a disclosure of one’s SALn is likewise required of the Congressmen-Prosecutors and their being present in the court room would allow them to explain their respective SALn’s, why don’t they volunteer their SALn’s as evidence of how a complete and accurate SALn should look like? It would be much clearer to the public if they were to present the issue in that manner. It would also prove that the Chief Justice has no excuse in filing a SALn that’s “wanting” if that is indeed the case, and that could be borne out by means of comparison with the SALn’s of the Honorable Representatives of Congress. This would seem to be the most practical solution to this issue and could help restore the credibility of the Congressmen that signed the filing of charges against the Chief Justice without first reading them, a requirement of the Constitution that is part of the need for verification of the Articles of Impeachment. Of course, this suggestion is being made with tongue in cheek knowing it’s not going to happen.

“From September 2010 to December 2011, the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) made a total of 28 calls and sent four letters to the Office of the Secretary General to obtain copies of the July 2010 (upon assumption) and December 2010 SALNs of the 15th Congress members and the CVs and PDS of 14th Congress and 15th Congress members. As of this writing, these have yet to be released by the repository agency.” This statement was made by the PCIJ only last month. Based on this, what was suggested above is asking for a miracle. The question therefore begs to be asked: what are the Representatives “hiding” – as they often repeat addressing the Chief Justice? To begin with, they are required by law in the same manner the Chief Justice is, to disclose their SALn.

The palace has been accused, repeatedly, of “selective justice.” They, too, can now disprove the accusation and enhance their credibility by asking the Congressmen to release their SALn’s. They cannot be seen to be applying laws stringently on their perceived enemies and waiving the same for their allies. Or, do they really care and feel they, and only they, are above the law?

It was a bit of a surprise the impeachment court voted to allow the subpoena of Corona’s bank documents from PSBANK and BPI, but seeing how it was a precise account number (as passed-on by a little lady) and not just an account name, then I guess the majority opted to please the gods of liberality. But what’s good for the goose, likewise for the gander, so I think the defense can also look forward to the same treatment when their turn comes. Problem is: expect the full force of the Palace’s propaganda machinery, state and private, to create an artificial situation where it would seem like the prosecution, after tackling all eight articles, had already won and it was just a matter of formalizing the vote. With that, the broadcast and print coverage will be turned down, reduced, given less airtime during the turn of the defense; they would make it seem like the defense was merely going through the motions. Senator Ralph Recto’s suggestion on the sequencing of defense and prosecution – that each take their turn on a per article basis but voting comes at very end of all articles — was not a bad idea.

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