Wednesday, May 30

CJ on Trial: Convicted

Since I decided to enter law school, I became more interested with the Philippine government. This does not mean that I want to enter politics. Rather, I simply want to keep myself updated with the world that I might be "in" someday. At first, becoming a lawyer was my father's dream for her unica hija. As days pass by, I began to love the idea of studying law and eventually discovered that I am dreaming of the same thing. So, two weeks ago, I enrolled at Ateneo College of Law and from then on, I started reading the news and updating myself with certain current events. Well, maybe, this is my way of preparing myself for June 2012.

This morning, I checked Philippine Star's issue for the day. Before doing so, I knew that the headline would be about Corona. Yes, I was right. The impeachment trial was sensational. Everyone has been keeping an eye on the Senate and of the former Chief Justice Renato Corona (Impeached). Finally, this afternoon, the Senate gave its final verdict. 

All my plans for the afternoon were cancelled because I promised to watch the coverage of the Senate session. While listening to the explanations given by each Senator-Judges, I posted my side comments on my twitter account. These were the votes given by the honorable Senators of the Philippines:

Sen. Angara - Convict
Sen. Arroyo - Acquit
Sen. A. Cayetano - Convict
Sen. P. Cayetano - Convict
Sen. Santiago - Acquit
Sen. Drilon - Convict
Sen. Escudero - Convict
Sen. Estrada - Convict
Sen.  Guingona - Convict
Sen. Honasan - Convict
Sen. Lacson - Convict
Sen. Lapid - Convict
Sen. Legarda - Convict
Sen. Marcos - Acquit
Sen. Osmena - Convict
Sen. Pangilinan - Convict
Sen. Pimentel - Convict
Sen. Recto - Convict
Sen. Revilla - Convict
Sen. Sotto - Convict
Sen. Trillanes - Convict
Sen. Villar - Convict
Sen. Enrile - Convict

As you can see, only three senators believed that ex-CJ Corona was not guilty based on Roman Numeral II of the Articles of Impeachment. Among these three legislators, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago gave the best speech. She was able to cite the different legal bases on why she has chosen to give the "Acquit" verdict. According to her, the Constitutional Law of the Philippines, being the fundamental and supreme law of the country, is not subject to any interpretation. One cannot simply give judgments based on his or her personal interpretation of the 1987 Philippine Constitution. Quoted from the honorable Senator: "Hindi naman pwede basahin ang Konstitusyon na parang nagbasa ka lang ng dyaryo." Some viewers were not able to grasp her complete explanation because they were busy scrutinizing the way Sen. Santiago delivered her speech. I cannot blame them for that. All I know is this: I admire how she said what she wanted to say. The Philippines is lucky to have a Senator like her - someone who knows how to defend the Constitution.

Highlight in Sen. Santiago's speech: "Under the rule of ejusdem generis, when a general word occurs after a number of specific words, the meaning of the general word should be limited to the kind or class of thing within which the specific words fall. The Constitution provides that the impeachable offenses are: “culpable violation of the Constitution, treason, bribery, graft and corruption, other high crimes, or betrayal of public trust.” An omission in good faith in the SALN carries a light penalty, and is even allowed to be corrected. Thus, it is not impeachable."

The senators who voted "Convict" stressed the fault of Corona in not declaring his cash in bank (foreign currency.) This is a clear violation of the Republic Act 6713 or commonly known "Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees" Section 8A.

(A) Statements of Assets and Liabilities and Financial Disclosure. - All public officials and employees, except those who serve in an honorary capacity, laborers and casual or temporary workers, shall file under oath their Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth and a Disclosure of Business Interests and Financial Connections and those of their spouses and unmarried children under eighteen (18) years of age living in their households.
The two documents shall contain information on the following:
(a) real property, its improvements, acquisition costs, assessed value and current fair market value;
(b) personal property and acquisition cost;
(c) all other assets such as investments, cash on hand or in banks, stocks, bonds, and the like;
(d) liabilities, and;
(e) all business interests and financial connections.

The former Chief Justice Corona may have failed to declare $2.4 million in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN). However, I believe that it is not a clear ground for conviction. There were no sufficient evidences provided by the prosecutors that would warrant his removal from the office. The defense team emphasized on their final argument yesterday, "...He (Corona) acted in good faith when he did not include his bank deposits in his SALN." No one has proven that he has an ill-gotten wealth. All they know was that he lied about his foreign bank deposits. From there, all judgments were based. Looking at this, only this, he should be acquitted (legally).

All public officials should start making their SALNs available to the public. This way, they can begin to earn the public trust. Transparency for their assets, liabilities, net worth and other financial transactions should be fully disclosed to the Filipinos. It is part of their jobs as public servants.

In totality, I admire how the Senate handled the impeachment trial. Most importantly, I was amazed with how the Senate President, Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, presided and concluded the case. Renato Corona is the first chief justice of the Philippines who was impeached by the Senate.

All opinions expressed on this post are mine. We have different things to say about this issue. I respect whatever decision you have in mind. If my thoughts are opposing yours, then forgive me. I am only expressing my thoughts and ideas about the historical impeachment. 


  1. I think it is a big step for Pnoy Administration to clean up our government, free from corrupt officials.

    1. There are many issues that the Pnoy administration should look into. And yes, corruption is one of those. It's time to abolish the "wrong" institution for the betterment of the Filipino people. The "impeachment" issue is not just about "corruption."

  2. I so love Miriam too! Sya lagi ang nagpapasaya sa senado. And lagi naman syang may point sa sinasabi nya.

    1. She is one of the best legislators in the country!

  3. I love Sen. Miriam's conviction. There's no doubt she stand by her ground bilang mambabatas. What bothered me though, was when she said, kapag kinonvict ibig sabihin malinis na kayo? ...not her exact words but it's something to that effect. If the senator-judges are not to convict CJ Corona in the grounds of them being corrupt also (because it will make it hypocritical) -- where do we run for justice then? --- kaka sad naman ang Pilipinas! Thanks for sharing your points. I enjoyed reading.

    1. Well, we all have different views about the impeachment. Miriam made a point when she enumerated the different grounds for impeachment and the "SALN fault" does not fall to any category. Legally speaking, CJ should not be convicted. But I'm not saying he's not guilty.

  4. I think he should not be convicted as well. Hay. Politics. Something's cooking in there!

    1. Yes, agree. But I can't imagine the reaction of the Filipinos in case CJ gets his position again. Not good. Hahaha :D

  5. ok ,only 3 believes that CJ should not be convicted. but i believ that these 3 knows that he is guilty

  6. Yay, updated! Way to go Atty. Hehehe

  7. In this picture, I keep my eye on the larger picture (for me): Is this trial really worth its fame?

    This trial is now considered as a history, but I firmly believe that the people's, especially the government officials', reactions upon this matter are really the stuff that count the most.

    As we see, it ignited the idea of opening all the SALNs of the politicians, which I may say, is a milestone to eradicate corruption.

    But on the way the people are acting now, I think that this major step will be put in to waste. :(

    1. The impeachment trial will soon appear in Phil. History and Social Studies books. Yes, it doesn't deserve the fame but it has to be noticed. We have to know the different reasons why such trial happened. We also need to understand the different sides of the prosecutors, the defense team and the senate judges.

      The information bill should become a law soon. All these politicians and government officials need to make their SALNs available to the public. We need to know. Transparency is important.

      P.S. No one has proven that CJ's wealth was ill-gotten.

  8. Agi na sad kodiri Gene... How are you?

  9. I hope that CJ Corona conviction will be the start of better governance.


Let's talk over a cup of coffee.