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senator judges’ explanations on their votes on cj corona’s conviction

May 30, 2012 Leave a comment

source: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/203299/senators%E2%80%99-explanation-of-their-votes-excerpts

Senators’ explanation of their votes (excerpts)

5:05 am | Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

Verdict rebuilds ‘new paradigm of transparency’

EDGARDO ANGARA

The Constitution and our statutes oblige every public official to make and submit  “a complete disclosure of his assets, liabilities, and net worth in order to suppress any questionable accumulation of wealth.”

This obligatory constitutional rule seeks to eradicate corruption, promote transparency in government and maintain a standard of honesty in the public service.

The prosecution and the defense were one in producing proof that the Chief Justice has bank accounts he did not declare in his SALN. Removing any iota of doubt about this vital fact was the Chief Justice himself who openly admitted before this court that he has four  US dollar accounts totaling $2.4 million, and three  peso accounts of P80.7 million.

I may grant the Chief Justice’s plea of honest mistake of judgment. But given his broad experience in public law and practice in investment advisory services, his willful and deliberate omission, together with the magnitude of the subject matter, amounts to a culpable violation—thus a failure meriting condemnation.

ALAN PETER CAYETANO

The impeachment court does not simply pass judgment on this specific case, or on this specific Chief Justice. The court action, being far-reaching and precedent-setting, is actually rebuilding a new paradigm of transparency and accountability in public office.

The verdict of this court will affect more than 1.3 million civil or public servants, government employees and officials. It will affect 100 million Filipinos in other countries. It will affect our future.

I cannot agree with the Chief Justice’s interpretation of the law in his explanation of the P80 million and $2.4 million deposits. However, in signing the waiver that allows the Ombudsman to look into his bank accounts, he has set a new standard.

I ask the President to instruct his Cabinet to sign the waivers or resign and leave the government. Lead by following, or get out of the way. Executive, legislative, judiciary. COA, Comelec, BIR, Customs, judges, governors, mayors, barangay captains, congressmen, senators, let us agree on one standard.

PIA  CAYETANO

…I aslso have difficulty accepting the defense on commingled funds. The fact of commingling, I can accept that but the huge amount involved leaves too much doubt in my mind. In our interpretation of the law, we who hold a position of public trust, must choose the interpretation that will uphold public interest over private interest. Regardless of whether malice or an intent to suppress the truth was present, we must remember that public office is a public trust. Once that trust is gone, we must step down to preserve the integrity of the position we hold…

From the start, I questioned breaches in procedural law and ethical conduct of various participants in the impeachment process—the trial by publicity and the irresponsible hurtling of bloated unverified figures of assets, among others…

The other lesson must go beyond the Chief Justice. It is the call for transparency. I echo that call. Those of us who sit as judges, those who acted as prosecutors and all those in public service should not hide behind our titles…

FRANKLIN DRILON

The Constiturion commands the respondent Chief Justice to file an accurate and complete SALN.

Respondent concealed his luxurious condominiums for five years after they were fully paid. Worse, respondent reported the values of these condominiums at less than 50 percent of their acquisition cost.

Respondent admits he did not declare $2.4 million and P80 million  in his SALN. The enormity of respondent’s hidden assets—over P180 million, or 50 times more than his declared cash assets—is scandalous. It is grossly disproportionate to his total income for 10 years of about P27 million. It establishes a prima facie case of ill-gotten wealth under the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

The Supreme Court dismissed Delsa Flores, a lowly court interpreter, for not reporting in her SALN her stall in a public market.

The Chief Justice must be held to a much higher standard.

Where our Constitution and our laws require disclosure, he chose the path of concealment. He has lost his moral fitness to serve the people. He has betrayed the public trust.

Read more…

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.

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.

CoronaGate: day 1 Chief Justice Corona Impeachment Trial – opening statement for the defense by eduardo de los amheles

January 17, 2012 Leave a comment

(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.)

Your Honors,

My Countrymen:

Good afternoon.

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 video of Chief Justice Renato Corona Impeachment Trial

January 17, 2012 Leave a comment
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