Make or Break: Judicial Independence

In about five days time, the Senate, as the Impeachment Court, will finally get what they’ve been asking for: the testimony of the accused himself, Chief Justice Renato Corona. The Chief Justice has no other alternative but to testify if he wishes to be acquitted of the impeachment charges against him. Even a walkout by the defense will not prevent the Impeachment Court from rendering a verdict.

Barring any unforeseen bombshell from now until Tuesday when the CJ will appear in court, the testimony of CJ Renato Corona will be the “make or break” of this trial; and of the 3 remaining Articles of Impeachment, it is Article 2 that the prosecution is hoping for a conviction and rightly so. In fact, they could have dropped articles 3 and 7 and the verdict would not be expected to change. Everything now hinges on Article 2 which charges the CJ of “culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of the public trust for allegedly failing to publicly disclose his statements of assets, liabilities, and net worth as required by law.” Though it has already been shown that the CJ has, indeed, filed his SALN “faithfully” year after year, the veracity of the disclosure, a sworn document, is what is at question and this is where the issue of the dollar accounts come in – its alleged existence and omission in his disclosure. There are also Peso accounts allegedly belonging to the CJ that does not reflect in his SALN.

It has already been proven that there were Peso and Dollar accounts the amounts of which do not show in his SALN disclosures. The manner in which the bank documents were acquired is the subject of its illegality and admissibility in court; nevertheless, it is in existence. The defense’s only way out on this is that the amounts in said accounts were the monies held in trust by his wife which is another story irrelevant to the charges. This is only relevant in as much as they do not belong to the CJ and so was not included in his SALN.

Then, you have the dollar accounts allegedly belonging to Corona to the tune of $12M if we are to believe Ombudsman Morales, herself, a former Justice of the Supreme Court. With the help of COA and the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), she came to court with a power-point presentation that left everyone watching with their mouths agape. Her credentials and intelligence should tell you that chances of its veracity are high, and that gets even higher when told, as she admitted to the court, that the sources of information is no puny and powerless organization – AMLC — that could easily make mistakes to the amount of $12M. Even if they were 20% or 30% exaggerated, the balance would still be enormous for a Chief justice to have obtained and worse, to have kept hidden and undisclosed in his SALN. Yet, the CJ has vehemently denied it and called it a “lantern of lies” and has flatly stated that he would prove them to be false when he testifies. Those are very brave words and sounds like it must come from someone that is speaking the truth given that in five days, the whole world will know anyway. Something does not connect here.

Both versions are on a direct collision course so only one can be the truth. If the data Morales has is accurate, we may still witness the resignation of the Chief Justice rather than his humiliation in public, before Tuesday’s resumption of trial. If what the CJ is claiming turns out to be true, then we will be witnessing in our own respective visualizations, the equivalent of a bird flying over PNoy and dropping the proverbial “bird poop on your head.” Though it is considered lucky and a harbinger of a windfall of money in some cultures, I’m sure PNoy would rather that it does not happen notwithstanding the superstition behind it. He hopes to get the windfall, anyway, from the “just compensation” as payment for “their” hacienda with the help of a Supreme Court operating under his mercy.

Why is it that money is often the last scent whiffed in any controversy? Ten Billion Pesos is not peanuts and is the amount the Cojuangco family had pleaded with the court to grant them as payment. The Court ruled that the correct amount was less than P200M, a far cry from the minimum P10B they were asking for. Would PNoy actually go out on a “political limb” for that? They shoot farmers, don’t they?


1 Comment

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One response to “Make or Break: Judicial Independence

  1. adolfo mortera

    Well written piece. I believe the Chief Justice when he said the Ombudsman’s ppt presentation is a lantern of lies. His testimony next week will certainly turn the tide in favor of CJ Corona and validate the grand conspiracy of this yellow government to oust him at all cost.

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