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Revisiting the impeachment process

Last week, I had the chance to talk with the widow and children of the late Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona and I told them how, about three years ago, Casiano Navarro, former chief of the Philippine News Agency and I had a discussion on the fate the befell the late Chief Justice, who was about a year then from having been convicted by the Senate sitting as an impeachment court, which resulted in his removal as the head of the Highest Court in the land,
While we are no legal experts, Cass and I agreed the Senate might have erred, or even abused its power when it convicted Corona over the erroneous filing of his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Networth.
While there may have been wrong or missing entries in Corona’s Statement of Assets, Liabilities and net worth, it is recognized to be a correctible offense as no less than the Civil Service Commission had acknowledged that erroneous SALns can be corrected.
So, if the grounds for Corona’s conviction are non-existent as the erroneous filing of SALn and that the CSC had averred can be corrected, then the late Chief Justice could have his case appealed, which we heard he did. Unfortunately for him, he lost his appeal. As the law provides a decision on the impeachment proceedings is non-appealable.
Then, around 2013, then Sen. Jinggoy Estrada bared the existence of the Disbursement Acceleration Program from which the Aquino administration sourced its fund to “reward” senators who voted to convict Corona with additional pork for projects of their choice.
Estrada’s revelation was corroborated by his colleague, former Sen. Bong Revilla who gave additional information as to how he was picked up by former Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas from a designated meeting place before he was dropped at Bahay Pangarap where he was met by then President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino and former Budget Secretary Butch Abad. The two, according to Revilla, convinced him to convict the former Chief Justice.
“Ibalato mo na sa akin yan pare,” Revilla quoted Aquino saying. And this was allegedly followed by Abad’s statement, “Magtulungan na lang tayo.”
Revilla however did not elaborate whether the term “magtulungan” refers to the additional funding coming from the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
Also, the two senators, while admitting they had received additional funding from the Aquino administration, denied being persuaded by the promise of the additional pork which came in, complete with the gravy and the trimmings, to convict Corona. According to the two, they voted based on what their conscience dictated them at that time.
And that was how the other members of the Senate declared when records were made public showing they received additional funds in excess of their pork after having convicted Corona — that the additional fund had nothing to do with the way they voted as it came after the impeachment trial.
But, let’s apply the same scenario to a typical traffic violation. A traffic enforcer stops a motorist who had just violated a traffic rule. The motorist stops, gives his license to the enforcer and promises to give him a few hundred bucks if he will let him off the hook.
The traffic enforcer hands him back his license, then accepts the promised money and lets the motorist leaves.
And then, when confronted on the incident, the traffic enforcer reasons out he let the motorist go because he believes him to be honest whose only fault was to commit an honest mistake. And that was what his conscience dictated to him at that time.
Who’s buying his line of reasoning? No one because that’s a lot of BS. But what’s the difference with the line of reasoning of the senators on the Corona conviction?
Clearly there was bribery and no less than a sitting senator at that time admitted. If there was bribery, it would point to the highest official of the land then who could be guilty of abusing his power just to remove a sitting Chief Justice.
But as the decision of the impeachment court is non-appealable, how then could we correct the injustice meted upon the former Chief Justice.
Corona has already gone, but that doesn’t mean we should just accept the things as they were and as they are now. Little by little, we are now discovering how Aquino had abused his power to persecute his perceived enemies.
How he persecuted to no end former President, now Deputy Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for having invalidated the stock distribution option which paved the way for the distribution of the Cojuangco-Aquino-owned Hacienda Luisita, the collateral damage of which was Corona; how he demonized former Vice President Jejomar “Jojo” Binay, which cost him his chances at the recently-concluded presidential elections after he spoke against the DAP; and how he destroyed the political careers of Estrada and Revilla over the alleged pork barrel scam when he could not come up with potential candidates to beat them in the 2016 elections.
An injustice had been done and it must be corrected. And it could be anchored on two major things. First, establish the link between the decision of the senators on the impeachment trial and the additional funding through the DAP; and second, amend the constitutional provision on impeachment.
For while the Executive and the Legislative bodies are supposed to be acting independently of each other, the Corona impeachment showed us otherwise. The Corona impeachment is a classic case of how a sitting president can abuse his powers just to get back at his opponents, real or perceived. And the present Constitution does not provide a safeguard against those abuses.

12 comments

  • Mikey Robles

    In the Corona impeachment trial CJ Corona was the least guilty. His offense was simply filing an incomplete SALN. The congressmen/women, senators, witnesses, Ombudsman, SOJ, AMLC, and media were all guilty of receiving bribes. But the most guilty by far was BS Aquino because he was the one who ordered the impeachment and the bribes totaling in the billions of pesos. Aquino should be in jail for the rest of his miserable life.

    Mikey Robles Friday, 13 January 2017 09:30 Comment Link
  • Max Soliven

    Don't mislead the reader with your stupid opinion and conclusion Mr. Charlie Manalo, First of all Corona was not found guilty in Impeachment trial because of erroneous filing of his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Networth.
    only, He is found guilty mainly because he cannot explain how he accumulated the amount of dollar in his account, and for your information, he declared 2million dollar only as the total deposit in his dollar account, but the truth is the bank account of corona was not open during impeachment process and for sure it is more than what he declared. He cannot even explain how his children accumulated their millions and properties in the U.S. How come he became a chief justice if he don't know how to accomplish the SALN and he even did not disclose the existence of dollar account if not the AMLC and the ombudsman revel it. For me you are an idiot and stupid to depend corona same with your avid fan reader.

    Max Soliven Thursday, 12 January 2017 11:10 Comment Link
  • Max Soliven

    Don't mislead the reader with your stupid opinion and conclusion Mr. Charlie Manalo, First of all Corona was not found guilty in Impeachment trial because of erroneous filing of his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Networth.
    only, He is found guilty mainly because he cannot explain how he accumulated the amount of dollar in his account, and for your information, he declared 2million dollar only as the total deposit in his dollar account, but the truth is the bank account of corona was not open during impeachment process and for sure it is more than what he declared. He cannot even explain how his children accumulated their millions and properties in the U.S. How come he became a chief justice if he don't know how to accomplish the SALN and he even did not disclose the existence of dollar account if not the AMLC and the ombudsman revel it. For me you are an idiot and stupid to depend corona same with your avid fan reader.

    Max Soliven Thursday, 12 January 2017 11:08 Comment Link
  • Max Soliven

    Don't mislead the reader with your stupid opinion and conclusion Mr. Charlie Manalo, First of all Corona was not found guilty in Impeachment trial because of erroneous filing of his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Networth.
    only, He is found guilty mainly because he cannot explain how he accumulated the amount of dollar in his account, and for your information, he declared 2million dollar only as the total deposit in his dollar account, but the truth is the bank account of corona was not open during impeachment process and for sure it is more than what he declared. He cannot even explain how his children accumulated their millions and properties in the U.S. How come he became a chief justice if he don't know how to accomplish the SALN and he even did not disclose the existence of dollar account if not the AMLC and the ombudsman revel it. For me you are an idiot and stupid to depend corona same with your avid fan reader.

    Max Soliven Thursday, 12 January 2017 11:07 Comment Link
  • Nestor

    Ang nakakatawa, the three senators who happily connived with Pnoy were themselves encarcerated eventually. Ang tatanga kasi. He who rides the tiger will end up in the tiger's mouth.

    Nestor Thursday, 12 January 2017 03:07 Comment Link
  • Clamor

    Ever since the impeachment trial of the late chief justice Corona, I truly believed that the decision of the senators sitting as judges was politically motivated. Only the late senators Miriam Defensor Santiago, Joker Arroyo and former senator BBM voted for aquittal. As a result, those 3 good senators did not receive money from the DAP. If we examine the charges against the CJ Corona, none of the them relates to his job as chief justice nor his judicial responsibilities. Even if he failed to declare some of his assets in his SALN, those are not considered ill-gotten wealth as there was no such charge against him for amassing ill-gotten wealth. And we all know by now, that the claims made by the Ombudsman Morales on Corona's bank accounts were incorrect and baseless. She counted transactions and not balances in Corona's bank records, of course in collusion with the AMLC. An error in the SALN cannot be the reason for removing a sitting chief justice. The reason behind his removal is vindictiveness from Noynoy Aquino and it has nothing to do with the judicial functions of CJ Corona.

    Clamor Thursday, 12 January 2017 02:17 Comment Link
  • Akoy Pinoy

    Anyone accepted CJ Corona challenge to open their bank account? The career politicians and the law makers who filed/signed/voted for the impeachment were the real thieves.

    Akoy Pinoy Thursday, 12 January 2017 02:01 Comment Link
  • Akoy Pinoy

    Anyone accepted CJ Corona to open their bank account? The career politicians and the law makers who filed/signed/voted for the impeachment were the real thieves.

    Akoy Pinoy Thursday, 12 January 2017 02:00 Comment Link
  • Clamor

    Ever since the impeachment trial of the late chief justice Corona, I truly believed that the decision of the senators sitting as judges was politically motivated. Only the late senators Miriam Defensor Santiago, Joker Arroyo and former senator BBM voted for aquittal. As a result, those 3 good senators did not receive money from the DAP. If we examine the charges against the CJ Corona, none of the them relates to his job as chief justice nor his judicial responsibilities. Even if he failed to declare some of his assets in his SALN, those are not considered ill-gotten wealth as there was no such charge against him for amassing ill-gotten wealth. And we all know by now, that the claims made by the Ombudsman Morales on Corona's bank accounts were incorrect and baseless. She counted transactions and not balances in Corona's bank records, of course in collusion with the AMLC. An error in the SALN cannot be the reason for removing a sitting chief justice. The reason behind his removal is vindictiveness from Noynoy Aquino and it has nothing to do with the judicial functions of CJ Corona.

    Clamor Thursday, 12 January 2017 01:59 Comment Link
  • Pogikunu

    How right you were on your analysis! I do not feel sorry for Enrile, Estrada, and Revilla for being double cross by abnoy, they do deserved to be in jail and rot in jail, too bad Enrile was able to persuade the Supreme Court to released him from jail, and too bad abnoy is still free. I have nothing but contempt for all those members of congress that impeached the late Honorable Chief Justice Corona, and those in the Senate that convicted Corona on a flimsy charged, what I find more bothersome is the Senate President Enrile statement claiming abnoy should just leave Corona alone and not pursue in persecuting him as Corona never stole public money since Corona was able to proves how he accumulated his dollar accounts though honest mean, there is no proof that Corona stole public fund and yet he and the rest of stinking corrupt senators found him guilty, as Sen. Santiago said, there is nothing impeachable against Corona so there in nothing to convict him with.

    Pogikunu Wednesday, 11 January 2017 17:29 Comment Link

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