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chief justice trial lessons learned – our reflection on the mirror

May 26, 2012 1 comment

the impeachment trial of chief justice renato corona will come to an end  next tuesday when the senator judges tell the nation their verdict on the case. looking back at what happened and picking up the things that strike us the most could very well be the reflection we see of us as a people and country on a mirror, big picture and details included.

in marketing and advertising, it is standard operating practice to look at the past business year, analyze it and draw up what we call  “lessons learned” . these are conclusions, observations and insights that the marketing guy extracts from data and results from the previous year,  both mistakes and successes that can be used to anchor the succeeding year’s marketing plans and strategies.  the idea is to help ensure the mistakes of the previous year are not repeated and the successes are continued and improved on for the upcoming year.

we will apply a similar process and principle on the chief justice impeachment trial – look back at what happened and draw the things that we think worked and those that did not work.  identifying these will hopefully prompt our leaders to re-shape our country to be better and stronger in the future.

this is from the point of view of an ordinary citizen who is not a lawyer whose only basis are first and foremost the live showing on tv of the trial and to some degree readings of  newspaper and online articles about the trial.

chief justice impeachment  trial lessons learned : 

1. the country’s laws on good governance as it applies to government officials have a lot of big loopholes, if not contradictions and room for mis-interpretation, confusion and misuse in interpretation and application.    these laws need to be looked at and to  fix the problems – the anti-money laundering law, anti-graft & corruption law, SALN  law and the ill-gotten wealth law.

i am not a lawyer and i possibly confused the laws and have duplication but that is the impression that i have as an ordinary citizen based on  what has happened in the trial.

aside from the apparent loopholes, these laws are not specific enough in defining what is lawful and what is not.  law/s recently passed in congress seem to to be inconsistent with law/s passed much earlier. worst, recent laws enacted does not seem to strictly apply or uphold the provisions of the constitution. many of the legal arguments  hinged too much on the “spirit of the law” and “intent of the framers” rather than clear cut and obvious definitions.

2. the impeachment process and its rules need to be tightened for an orderly and smooth process to ensure credibility of the process and results. the current impeachment trial process has too many components left to the discretion of the judges and  is a  large petri dish for misbehavior and abuse by the judges, the defense and prosecution lawyers, witnesses and the media.

while there is good reason to exercising leniency by the judges and the often used Sui generis characterization of the trial,  there  is just too much of those that the trial has become totally unpredictable and unwieldy.

rules and processes are like walls, they both serve the purpose of keeping things in place inside at the same time preventing  things from the outside in wrecking havoc to what is inside the walls.  having no walls is a recipe for disarray and collapse which the impeachment trial came close to at certain points.

a tighter impeachment process and rules will not only make it easier for the prosecution and defense lawyers to battle, it will force both parties to make a much more intelligent and high level discourse of the law and the issues tackled in the trial. a well defined playing field and rules will sharpen the whole discussion and debate and thus result to a much clearer presentation and debate of the issues.

intelligence and clarity of the issues in this impeachment trial are both sorely lacking.

3. the senate’s leniency and often used characterization of it being sui generis allowed both parties and others to make a near mockery of the court.  it can be argued that this is under point number 2, above, but we are dedicating a point to it as we think this is a very major lesson learned in the trial.

we have seen the court brought to confusion many times in the trial as the senate president bent  over backward in allowing both the prosecution and the defense have their way in court.

the senate president probably did that to ensure transparency and show impartiality primarily for  the benefit of the general public  but we think it also brought in its twin partner of many  negatives. both the prosecution and defense took advantage of it and introduced irrelevant issues and arguments in to the trial that in the end the public’s view of the case has become muddled and significantly shaded by irrelevant points.

the general public with a significant number of them being  non-lawyers are naturally more pre-disposed to pick up the more interesting points of personal drama,  histrionics from the senators and idiocies of the prosecution and defense lawyers. proof – showbiz chismis tv shows get higher ratings than talk shows that discuss national issues and news programs  on tv.

in many ways the confusion and irrelevant points were brought to the trial by the impeachment court itself when it refused to deny them and simply sat it out and accepted everything and anything from the prosecution and defense.

4. it is sad that one of the most important legal battles in the country’s history is marked  not by brilliance and intelligence  but remembered most for the errors. blunders and incompetence of both the prosecution and the defense teams. we are absolutely transfixed on our tv screens as senator judges  berate and castigate at different times the defense and prosecution lawyers for their incompetence, poor knowledge of the laws and court procedures and simple bad behavior and lack of  proper decorum.

we witnessed defense and prosecution lawyers build themselves up as heroes only to make a complete turn around and turn themselves as complete fools as the trial went by.

spokespersons of both camps have claimed victory as the trialwent along but for the general public who are non-lawyers, that is very hard to appreciate if not rendering us totally clueless on what successes they are talking about as we are very much bombarded and witness the errors and blunders that they commit.

5. there is a lingering bad feeling in the mouth when you witness THE chief justice of THE supreme court in the country use the drama of tears, emotions and illness to argue his case and points of law.  the supreme court is the country’s highest office in the judicial system. it is the supreme body that decides for the country in finality matters of law. the court’s decisions have the effect of becoming laws themselves for future generations.

this supreme body is headed by its chief justice who is renato corona. corona holds the highest position in the country’s highest judicial body – his words have the effect of being cast in stone.

but this chief justice did no such thing. rather than defend himself with brilliance of law and the superiority of debate and discourse, the chief justice of the supreme court used tears in his eyes to argue his point, illness to escape debate and emotional stories about himself, his family and his grandson.

we do not even think this drama or the gimmicks that corona performed on live tv will not be allowed in hearings at the supreme court. malice is done to the judicial process and the reputation of the chief justice when he himself performs such acts in a hearing in court.

in twitter we said that we should perhaps call mr. corona from now on as the cheap justice of the supreme court for his cheap tricks drama.  we have also wondered whether law schools in the philippines will now offer acting classes to law students to teach them how to properly get their tears to drop on cue or declare illness and set up a walk out in dramatic fashion like saying the words “the chief justice of the philippines wishes to be excused”.

it is regrettable that the the chief of the supreme court  himself has set a bad example for all lawyers to see. we were expecting that the man with the highest level of position in the judicial system would actually take the debate at a high level and yet he   performed one of the lowest forms of strategy in winning a court case, and all done on live national tv.

we do not know what the verdict of the senate impeachment court will be but it is plain to see that we can already lay claim to verdicts  on the conduct of the trial and the laws that are supposed to govern the trial.  this is over and beyond corona, the senator judges and the congressmen, this is about the whole country and our pride as a people for future generations  of filipinos.

 

 

the evidence presented by the prosecution that corona needs to answer today

May 22, 2012 Leave a comment

this is an excellent summary from GMA7 new. we are posting it here for your appreciation. thanks to GMA7 for such great work . (source:  http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/257127/news/specialreports/as-corona-trial-resumes-here-s-a-summary-of-the-evidence-so-far)

note: for easier reading, double click image to enlarge it

As Corona trial resumes, here’s a summary of the evidence so far
BY KIMBERLY JANE TAN & ANDREO CALONZO, GMA NEWS May 6, 2012 10:39pm

On May 7, the Senate sitting as an impeachment court resumes the trial of impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona. The defense team is expected to continue its presentation of witnesses and evidence in a bid to debunk the arguments of the prosecution, who have accused Corona of betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the Constitution.
GMA News Online has prepared the infographic below to help our audience wade through the evidence presented so far during the first 34 days of the trial for Articles II, III, and VII of the impeachment complaint. The prosecution has rested its case and the tables will be continuously updated with the response from the defense team as Corona’s lawyers proceed with their presentations in the impeachment trial.

for easier reading, double click image to enlarge it.

for easier reading, double click image to enlarge it.

for easier reading, double click image to enlarge it.

for easier reading, double click image to enlarge it.

post here : your questions you want corona to answer at the hearing

May 13, 2012 4 comments

very soon, probably next week, the event we have all been waiting for will happen – chief justice corona will testify at the impeachment court trial.

after many weeks of corona and his defense lawyers consistently and strongly saying  he will not testify in court, a miracle happened and his lawyers said in open court that the chief justice will testify on the condition that the ombudsman and others who have charged that he owns $10M are sent subpoenas to appear in court.

so far, all those he wanted to appear in court have signified their intent to appear in court. with no more barriers for an appearance in court. corona testifying seems like a sure thing.

when corona  testifies, that means it’s open city for corona at the court. the prosecution lawyers and the senator judges can ask corona whatever questions they like.

senator kiko pangilinan tweeted just today asking for netizens to send him questions that they want corona to answer at the hearing. we are following senator pangilinan’s lead and opening up this blog for netizens to post the questions they want corona to answer during the hearing.

to send in your questions, hit the reply button in this post and type in your questions. we will be letting senator pangilinan about this post here for him to check out your questions for cj corona.

SWS Poll – is corona testifying in the trial the swing vote to an innocent verdict?

March 29, 2012 Leave a comment

consistent with the Pulse Asia poll, this SWS poll says corona is guilty. the rating is much higher than pulse asia. at 73% versus 47% at pulse asia, but the direction is the same and a very clear statment of opinion by the repondents.

the SWS poll gives us much more information on the attitudes of the respondents with a few additional questions one of which is the question should corona testify in the trial. a huge 73% of the respondents are saying it is important that corona testify in the trial.  it is the exact number as the number of people who find corona guilty but this is just a coincidence.

we think these two questions are related. we think the respondents are saying for them to change their minds on the guilt of corona, they want to hear corona testify in the trial. his testimony in open court may very well be the silver bullet that will change the minds of the respondents on the guilt of corona.

to say the least, many, in fact too many questions have been raised on the character of corona, not to mention the assets and proprieties of corona, the mysterious bank transactions where many of these have been explained by corona’s lawyers in some way but none properly squared off in the minds of the respondents.

people probably want to hear it straight from corona’s mouth on what happened in these transactions and charges, corona’s lawyers may think his testimony in court is not necessary to win their case in court, but the people probably think it is important in the court of public opinion.

SWS Poll On Corona Impeachment Trial : corona is “damaged goods”

March 29, 2012 Leave a comment

Should CJ Corona resign? The respondents were asked to choose one of the following: (a) CJ Corona should resign as soon as possible; (b) CJ Corona should wait for the Senate decision and, if acquitted, then resign; (c) CJ Corona should leave office only if found guilty; or (d) they didn’t know enough about the case to have an opinion. To this item, a plurality of 49% say he should wait for acquittal first, followed by 30% saying he should resign as soon as possible, 18% saying he should leave only if found guilty, and 3.5% without an opinion. The only demographic deviations from this are pluralities in NCR (45%) and class ABC (45%) saying that he should resign as soon as possible

source : http://www.sws.org.ph/

first a disclaimer: we think this question in the SWS poll on the chief justice corona impeachment trial is a slightly unfair question. the question forces the respondents to make a choice on only one side – resignation of corona. it does not provide the respondents an opt out answer of corona not resigning and staying in his position.  this question forces the respondent to just choose degrees which are all on one side.

however, we think this question reveals something about what the people think of corona and that is corona is damaged goods.  in here,, 49% of the respondents think corona should resign even after he is found innocent of the charges and acquitted. this answer got the highest rating from the other 2 questions.

chief justice corona’s approval rating suffers a catastrophic meltdown – Pulse Asia Poll

March 23, 2012 Leave a comment

source Pulse Asia : http://pulseasia.com.ph/pulseasia/story.asp?ID=748

  • chief justice corona’s approval rating plunges to 14% from previous 38% and his disapproval rating took an upward sizzle from 24% to 58%. those can only be described as a catastrophic meltdown all due to the impeachment case t oust him being held at the senate. there is no other way to describe in approval rating  by more than  half  and a more than doubling of number of responding disapproving of corona.’s performance.
  • results on corona in this poll is highly consistent with the other Pulse Asia that showed a high 47% of the respondent found corona guilty versus only a 5% of the respondents found him innocent of the charges filed at the impeachment court.
  • this is the court of public opinion, not the impeachment court so many things can come into play on this resulting approval/disapproval rating of corona by the respondents.
  • over at twitter, we had said corona should form his own professional Crisis Management Team very early during the impeachment case. we had called out for this need almost on the first day the case was filed at the house of representatives. we figured the prosecution team obviously had their own team operating prior to day 1 of the whole process. the actions and messages of the prosecution team was so well crafted and well planned that there was a strategy in play and that can only come from a professional team of PR practitioners or media managers.
  •  the need for corona to have his own Crisis Management Team was not only necessary because of their adversary, but also this was obviously a very major development in the chief justice’s career. something as major as an impeachment case needed major efforts to protect his interests. the impeachment case was something very public, live tv coverage has been announced and that meant corona needed professionals to manage the media aspect of it.
  • the need for a professional Crisis Management Team to handle corona’s affairs was highlighted when he decided to deliver a speech in front of the Supreme Court premises attacking President Noynoy Aquino. corona with that speech decided to be a politician and effectively declared a media war and opened the court of public opinion.  moves like that should not be done without careful thinking and professional handling.

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more on this next….

Pulse Asia’s Chief Justice Corona Trial Poll results – the people sees past through prosecution’s incompetence

March 21, 2012 Leave a comment

source: http://pulseasia.com.ph/pulseasia/story.asp?ID=747

  • we are surprised at the high number of 84% of the respondents following the developments of the impeachment rial of chief  justice corona. we thought it would not be this high. after all this is not the president of the country like the erap estrada impeachment, just the chief justice. the erap impeachment getting high numbers will not be a surprise but a chief justice impeachment is.
  • a high number of those who follow the developments say tv is their media choice at 80%. that means many of the people are watching the live coverage of the impeachment trial. they are getting the developments first hand, seeing the drama unfold in front of their eyes.
  • internet for some reason got a very low number – just 1%, we think this is mostly a function of low computer incidence and low internet usage among the poor who accounts for a large majority of the philippine population.
  • radio coming in only at 12% is a shock. radio is the dominant media ownership in the country, almost 100% of homes have radio. for radio to be a non factor in medium choice is very surprising. this means tv has become a most important medium in the country. (the advertising industry need to retool some of theoir thinking on this one.)

  • the defense was trying to make something out of their charge that the impeachment complaint was fast-tracked at the Hour Of Representatives. we really don’t understand why this is important and what it is for but they seem to be saying because it was railroaded at the house, the complaint is invalid, don’t ask us why because we can;t explain it.
  • also we do not think it really matters, the fact is the senate has opened an impeachment court. whether it has been fast-tracked or not no longer matters.
  • this table is a practically a split where respondents can’t decide whether it was fast-tracked or not at he HOR. the numbers are practically tied with 32% saying it was fast-tracked while 38% do not think it was fast-tracked.
  • looks like the defense team has lost his battle.

this chart to us the most important findings of the poll – how people feel about the guilt or innocence of the the chief justice on the charges brought to him bu the HOR (House Of Representatives).

it is important to take note of this from the Pulse Asia website:

The survey fieldwork was conducted from February 26 to March 9, 2012 using face-to-face interviews. The following developments preoccupied Filipinos immediately prior to and during the conduct of the interviews for this survey: (1) the ongoing impeachment trial of Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato C. Corona* ; (2) the arraignment for electoral fraud of former President and incumbent Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo; (3) the death and destruction caused by a 6.9 intensity earthquake in the Visayas on 06 February 2012; (4) the commemoration of the 26th anniversary of EDSA People Power I; (5) the controversies involving a few presidential appointees; (6) the death of Negros Occidental Representative Ignacio Arroyo and the fight over his remains; and (7)  the increase in oil prices, fluctuating power rates, declining headline inflation rate, and the record-breaking performance of the Philippine Stock Exchange.

this survey was conducted while the prosecution was still presenting their witnesses and evidence to the court. the defense has not started any of their presentations yet.

  • the significant difference in those who believe corona is guilty at 47% versus those who believe he is innocent at 5% is a very significant finding. that means at that point in time when the poll was taken, when the prosecution was still making their case, the people was seeing corona as guilty.
  •  we were of the view that the prosecution team was screwing up big time.  we are not lawyers but we can tell they were doing a very bad job. the only time the prosecution did well was when neil tupas, the lead prosecutor delivered his opening speech during the trial. everything after that speech was horrible for the prosecution. he did well because he read a written speech.
  • the corona trial became a sad telenovela of “what did the prosecution do wrong this time? the prosecution delivered – they seemed to have done something new that was wrong on a daily basis. we knew that as senator miriam defensor santiago and the presiding judge himself, senator juan ponce enrile  delivered their most impassioned speeches in the trial berating the prosecution team on their latest blunders, incompetence or errors, senator santiago didn;t even bother to sugar coat her words, she just said it in plain, actually elegant and biting english. wha?!
  • over and beyond that thick muck of prosecution incompetence, the prosecution in reality was able to get past the court evidence and testimonies that to say the least corona needed to explain to the court and the country or evidence and testimony that can be used by the senator judges to convict corona.
  • for the respondents to see through that thick muck of prosecution incompetence and find corona guilty to us is just short of being a miracle or brilliance on the part of the respondents.
  • to be fair the incompetence the prosecution showed was not really on the main point of their existence in the impeachment court, but on the almost and everything  they did outside the court and before the impeachment court came into being.  the fact is they were able to get the court to accept testimony and evidence that the senator judges can use to convict corona.
  • okay,  we stand corrected, the prosecution also showed incompetence during the trial as they were constantly berated by senators santiago and enrile on their lack of knowledge and skills in presenting evidence and testimony of their witnesses. in other words, the senator judges were saying the prosecution did not know how to properly conduct a trial. that of course was a surprise considering the prosecutors are lawyers who were elected congressmen in their districts. apparently, not all lawyers are created equal and these congressmen who are also lawyers were shortchanged on that aspect when God made them lawyers.
  • does that mean the respondents were so brilliantly gifted that they were able to separate the garbage from the prosecution on their lawyering skills versus the evidence they were able to get the court accepted?
  • there is no other explanation for it. it looks like the respondents know what a corrupt official is versus one that is not. or an impeachable chief  justice versus one who is not.
  • we think the people are just so fed up with corrupt and incompetent government officials that it did not matter even if the messenger of the message is being faulted by santiago on a daily basis.

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more on this next….

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