first post in this blog was in november 22, 2008. after 3 years and 3 months, 772 posts and 10,007 comments posted, the blog has reached 1 Million hits. that to us is a lot of zeroes and we are above ourselves that we got this far.
the blog had modest beginnings – just another blog talking about the upcoming presidential elections in 2010. the blog quickly got hits which we credit to the fact that this is one of the first blogs to use the term “presidentiables” as a blog name. it was a marketing decision. we thought getting a recognizable name and being first at it was going to be critical in getting readership. we thought it was natural for netizens to search for the word “presidentiables” to get information or news on the upcoming presidential elections.
the strategy worked.
after the 2010 elections, we thought of closing down the blog. but then there were requests to continue it and thus we transformed the blog to talk about topics other than the election that was already concluded but also national issues in politics or governance. and those that concern the people.
we like to thank those who contributed to the 1 Million hits.
CoronaGate: day 1 Chief Justice Corona Impeachment Trial – opening statement for the defense by eduardo de los amheles
(Following is the full text of the opening statement of the defense, read by Atty. Eduardo De Los Angeles, in the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona at the Senate.)
During the past few days, Prosecutors happily displayed pictures of the Bellagio and a list of some 45 properties, supposedly owned by the Chief Justice, to create the impression that he accumulated ill-gotten wealth. In fact, the Chief Justice owns only 5 real properties.
Yet, the Complaint, which contains 8 grounds for impeachment, does not accuse the Chief Justice of acquiring ill-gotten wealth. He is accused of graft and corruption only for refusing to account for the Judiciary Development Fund or JDF. Even with regard to his statements of assets, liabilities and networth or SALN, the issue is whether or not the alleged failure to disclose violates the principle of accountability.
The pictures of the Bellagio and the bloated list of titles are, therefore, irrelevant to this trial.
This impeachment finds its roots in President Aquino’s fight against corruption and his perception that the Supreme Court is a hindrance to his quest. He believes that the Supreme Court protects former President Gloria Arroyo. On the other hand, the defense believes that President Aquino is antagonistic to the Court because of its ruling in the Hacienda Luisita case.
The nobility of President Aquino’s fight against corruption cannot be questioned. It is respectfully submitted, however, that in his fight, the President and the Executive Department are duty-bound to scrupulously observe an abiding respect for the Constitutional rights of every one of us.
The 8 Articles of Impeachment can actually be classified into 2 categories. First, those that involve decisions of the Supreme Court (Articles I, III, IV, V, VI, VII). And, second, those that pertain to the non-disclosure of the SALN of the Chief Justice, and his alleged refusal to account for the JDF. (Articles II and VIII).
Let me first address the latter. Complainants accuse the Chief Justice of allegedly refusing to account for the JDF. The documentary evidence will prove the contrary. And, with respect to his SALN, the defense will establish that in accordance with law, the Chief Justice annually files his SALN with the Clerk of Court of the Supreme Court, who has legal custody of such documents. We shall show that the Clerk of Court is restricted from disclosing the SALNs by resolutions first issued during the term of Chief Justice Marcelo Fernan way back in 1989. In ligt of current developments, the Chief Justice has already caused these resolutions to be included in the agenda of the Supreme Court for re-evaluation.
With respect to the decisions, the complainants made a tally of selected cases to show that the Supreme Court was biased. This is not so. First, it is not fair to handpick decisions that supposedly favor the Arroyo administration; all the decisions of the Supreme Court must be considered. Second, there are several decisions against the former President and her administration. For example, in Islamic Da’wah Council of the Philippines v. Office of the Executive Secretary, the Chief Justice himself penned the decision declaring former President Arroyo’s Executive Order No. 46 null and void. Third, in any decision, the Supreme Court always bases its judgment on sound legal grounds.
Take the case of the Truth Commission. The defense will establish that the Supreme Court was not biased towards the Arroyo administration. Aming ipapakita na tama ang desisyon dito. Nilabag ng Executive Order No. 1 ang Equal Protection Clause dahil ang pag-imbestiga kay Ginang Arroyo ang tanging layunin ng Truth Commission. Moreover, the Supreme Court even suggested a cure for the defect by not limiting the probe to the Arroyo administration. But the Executive Department stubbornly refused to adopt such simple amendment.
The defense will also explain that when the Supreme Court issued a TRO enjoining Secretary Leila De Lima from enforcing her Watchlist Order, the Supreme Court acted in accordance with the Constitution and jurisprudence. Hukuman po lamang ang maaaring magbigay ng Hold Order kapag mayroon nang naisampang criminal case. Ngunit, noong panahong iyon, wala pang naisasampang criminal case si Secretary De Lima laban kay Ginang Arroyo kahit, bago pa dito, matagang nang naghain ng reklamo ang Akbayan for Plunder. Bakit naman po natin sinisisi si Chief Justice? Di po ba’t malinaw na ang Exective Department ang may pagkukulang sa kaso ni Ginang Arroyo?
I remember a Secretary of Justice who aimed to rid our country of corruption. His name is Jose W. Diokno. He secured several search warrants and raided the offices and homes of Harry Stonehill, a rich American businessman who was alleged to have bribed government officials. To set an example, Secretary Diokno sought to prosecute Mr. Stonehill. Using the search warrants, the raiding teams seizes truck-loads of incriminating documents, including a “blue-book” containing the names of the bribed government officials. Yet, after 3 days, the Supreme Court issued a TRO preventing Secretary Diokno from using all the seized documents. Tulad ng marami, nagtaka ako: paano ito nangyari? After I read the decision penned by Chief Justice Roberto Concepcion, I understood. The decision explained that the search warrants were void and the seized documents inadmissible in evidence because the warrants did not specify the things to be seized, as required by the Constitution.
The Stonehill case is strikingly similar to the crusade of President Aquino. In both, there are crusading officials who want to eliminate corruption. In both, the public overwhelmingly support these officials. In both, the officials unfortunately transgressed the Constitution. And in both, the Supreme Court stepped in and issued adverse and unpopular decisions because its task is to always uphold the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
The House also complains that the Chief Justice betrayed the public trust when the Supreme Court decided on the cityhood of 16 municipalities, the creation of a new district in Camarines Sur, and the conversion of the Dinagat Island into a province. Aba, nakakalimutan na yata nila na sila ang naglikha nitong mga batas na ito. Now that the Supreme Court has upheld what they did, sila pa ang nagagalit at nagmamadaling magsampa ng impeachment case laban kay Chief Justice. Ano bang kalokohan yan?
At eto pa po, sabi nila, this impeachment is not against the Supreme Court but aimed to make the Chief Justice accountable for his personal actions. All decisions are, however, rendered by the Supreme Court, never by the Chief Justice alone. Isa lamang po ang boto ng Chief Justice at hindi niya kontrolado ang ibang mga mahistrado. Each Justice votes according to his own opinion. Taliwas sa sinasabi nila Congressman Tupas, wala pong voting bloc dito.
Your Honors, in performing its responsibility under the Constitution, the Supreme Court as a co-equal branch of government is now being assaulted and criticized. It is our humble submission that in upholding the Supreme Court and the Chief Justice cannot be considered as obstacles to clean government or to the President’s vision to realize his “daang matuwid.” In upholding the Constitution and in safeguarding individual rights, the Supreme Court and the Chief Justice cannot be considered the enemies of the people. Precisely, they protect individual rights and therefore do not betray public trust.
Today, the House of Representatives and the Executive Department have joined all their might, power and resources to impeach the Chief Justice. This impeachment sends a chilling threat to the Supreme Court to withhold the exercise of its judicial power and just let the President have his way.
Unfortunately, his obsessive pursuit of his goal has, at times, resulted in the infringement of the law. It has also brought the branches of government into collision, and now it divides the nation. During this crucial moment in history, we fervently pray that you, our Honorable Senators will listen, consider the evidence and as your solemn oath declares, do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws of the Philippines.
May God Bless us all.
CoronaGate : Day 1 Chief Justice Corona Impeachment Trial – Rep Niel Tupas’ opening statement for the prosecution
this is history being made at the senate in the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Corona. we will be posting the important speeches and developments in this blog.
Following is the full text of the opening statement for the prosecution, read by Iloilo Rep. Niel C. Tupas Jr., in the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona at the Senate
As public servants, we took an oath to uphold the people’s will at all times. All who hold positions in the government of our Republic are accountable for their actions. For the power of the sovereign Filipino people is a power that is higher than the Executive, the Legislative or even the Judiciary. And therefore, no matter how high and mighty one’s position may be, one can never, ever be beyond public accountability.
Today, we lay down before this impeachment tribunal the product of the collective voice of the people. Impeachment of Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona for betrayal of public trust, culpable violation of the Constitution, and for graft and corruption is the verdict in the House of Representatives. By issuing such verdict, we took the first step to accomplish our oath as the keepers of the people’s trust.
Let me be clear: We are not here to indict the Supreme Court as an institution, or to do battle with the judicial branch of government. We are here to search for the truth so as to restore the strength and independence of the judiciary. We are here because one man — Chief Justice Renato Corona — has bartered away for a pot of porridge the effectiveness, the independence, and the honor of the Supreme Court.
Mr. Senate President, your honors, one very important question before this honorable impeachment tribunal is, by what standards should Renato Corona be judged?
You only have to look at the Supreme Court itself to know the answer. As you climb its steps, you will see two statues. One of these statues is of Cayetano Arellano, the first Chief Justice, a man of absolute integrity, and of the deepest legal wisdom. The other is of Chief Justice Jose Abad Santos, who viewed his oath so sacred, and loved his country so deeply, he preferred to die at the hands of the Japanese rather than betray his country.
The Supreme Court itself, then, views the position of Chief Justice as beyond politics, beyond personal considerations, and always about putting honor and justice ahead of every other consideration. Pagkatao po ang ating pinag-uusapan dito. The Code of Judicial Conduct demands that a judge must be like Caesar’s wife — someone who must not only be pure but must be beyond suspicion at all times. Therefore, a Justice must be judged according to the highest standards. Against such standards, we then ask: Who is Chief Justice Corona? What kind of a man is he? Ano po ba ang pagkatao ni Renato Corona?
Chief Justice Renato Corona was a loyal servant to former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo from the time she became Vice-President in 1998 until she became President in 2001. Such loyalty had numerous rewards for the Chief Justice. Imagine, GMA paid for his back surgery. His wife was given plum positions in the John Hay Management Corporation. He was appointed Associate Justice, and the best reward of all, against all odds, he took a midnight oath as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
Corona’s appointment as Chief Justice also served an immoral purpose: that of shielding GMA from prosecution for her misdeeds during her presidency. The prosecution will show how Chief Justice Corona became the crowning glory of the cast of accomplices of former President Arroyo, and how he protected GMA’s interest in exchange for his position of prestige and power. This is at the heart of Article 1 of the Impeachment Complaint.
This unholy alliance between Chief Justice Corona and GMA, and Corona’s deep indebtedness to the former President culminated in the issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) to enable GMA and her husband to leave the country, and escape accountability. This is Article 7, Corona’s biggest favor yet to his benefactor. And in Article 4, we will show how the Chief Justice intervened in the impeachment case against former Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez also to protect GMA.
In Articles 3 and 5, we will show the lack of moral fitness of Chief Justice Renato Corona when he committed acts of impropriety involving parties with pending cases in the Supreme Court. His mockery of the disciplinary institutions of the Supreme Court in the plagiarism charge against a Supreme Court Associate Justice will be proven in Article 6. And in Article 8, we will show how he failed to account for the Judiciary Development Fund (JDF) and the Special Allowance for the Judiciary (SAJ), funds which are managed by the Chief Justice. Malinaw po: Kung gusto natin ng hustisya, hindi na dapat ipagkatiwala kay Chief Justice Corona ang pinakamataas na pwesto sa hudikatura.
And finally, we come to Article 2 where the prosecution will prove that Chief Justice Renato Corona amassed ill-gotten wealth after he was appointed to the Supreme Court in 2002. To give you an idea of this article, let me present to you some of the prized pieces of the Corona crown jewels:
Spanish Bay Tower, Bonifacio Ridge, acquired October 14, 2005, purchase price Php9,159,940;
McKinley Hill, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City, acquired October 21, 2008, purchase price Php6,196,575;
Bellagio I Tower, Taguig, acquired December 2009, purchase price of Php14,510,225;
The Columns, Ayala Avenue, Makati City, acquired in 2004;
One Burgundy Plaza – the building where Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had a penthouse unit while she was Vice-President – acquired in 2003, purchase price Php2,758,000; and
Number 57 Maranao Street, La Vista, acquired in 2003, zonal valuation Php20.4 million, sold to his daughter for Php18 million.
The governing principle of our laws is clear: unexplained discrepancy between an official’s income and his assets, declared or undeclared, is prima facie evidence of ill-gotten wealth, and therefore, is an impeachable crime of graft and corruption.
The process of accountability is always a painful one. But the legislature is tasked by no less than the Constitution, the very expression of the people’s will, to undertake this sacred duty. And if at this instance, this is how we are called upon to be of service to our country, impeach we must. Mr. Senate President, your honors, we submit that Renato Corona, by his misdeeds, is unfit to remain Chief Justice.
In closing, the message of the House, as the representatives of the people, is the same as that given by Oliver Cromwell when he dismissed England’s Long Parliament on April 20 of 1653. Before God and country, we say: “It is high time for us to put an end to your sitting in that place, which you have dishonored by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice, you are an enemy to good government, as you have sold your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas Escariot betrayed your God for a few pieces of gold. Depart I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!”
Thank you and good afternoon.
it is just a few thousands more and this blog will reach an amazing 1 Million hits. it’s hard to imagine the number, how it looks or feels that netizens took to their computer to click to this log 1 million times. thank you to all the readers who made this possible.
the DOT, secretary mon jimenez in particular is explaining the new slogan for philippine tourism as you read this. live tweets from reporters in the venue have said this is the new international line : “It’s More Fun In The Philippines”.
we like the line. the power of the line rests on the key insight that tourists really want to have fun. it is the first and last goal of every tourist. filipinos too are fun to be with. we in fact can find humor in almost everything.
another core insight is what sec jimenez said – “It is the Filipino that completes the Philippine experience”. that could very well be the secret weapon of this new tourism campaign. the philippines do not have a monopoly of mountains, beaches and other tourists sites, every other country has one. but it is only in the philippines where filipinos are everywhere. it will be the filipinos themselves who will make a difference for tourists to enjoy themselves during their vacation.
a country can have the best beaches in the world, but a rude and an unpleasant encounter with the people will delete all that joy.
however, we have not seen the execution of the filipinos as key to the campaign in the ads so far. they are still about tourist spots. jimenez in his speech this morning and in other times have been talking about the importance of the contribution of pinoys to the success of the tourism campaign. we will need to see how this is executed in future ads.
the line is also a competitive line. it does not just say what the philippines is all about, it says the philippines is better than other countries in giving them what they want which is fun. in advertising terms, that is a powerful slant.
but then again “#1forFUN” is included in the local line. this is not an original as it is in the amazon.com website.
first, we are unable to appreciate the need for a local line. this line, though simple is also in english. in twitter, singer and songwriter jim paredes of the APO said the tagalog translation of the international line also works very well – “Mas Masaya Sa Pinas” we agree with paredes. we think that is a great line for pinoys in the country.
we do not see any value in having two lines for the same thing. besides the line “#1forFUN” is not an original. we do not think it has any place in the slogan we want to use for the ocuntry.
so far pinoys seem to take to the line looking at the number of tweets it was able to get from everyone so much so that it was trending worldwide. practically all the tweets were positive with almost all giving their own example of why it is more fun in the philippines.
this is a far cry from the precious DOT chief who had to junk the line they developed where people were vjust divided plus the fact that there logo design was just too close to the the Poland tourism logo.
we will see how the ad agency will take this further if this line has legs.
the DOT also has a new website – http://www.itsmorefuninthephilippines.com/
~~a mindscape landmark~~