31 May 2012

Franco Castillo tearfully breaks conviction news to grandpa Corona; defense lawyers teary-eyed during voting; many of the ‘Sanctimonious 20’ senators doubtless have foreign accounts, but are not signing waivers; JPE persuades six followers to convict CJ at secret dinner meeting at Loren’s residence.

Such is the human heart that when something is so hurtful, it tends to retreat from searing pain. I understand that when last Tuesday’s voting at the Senate impeachment court began, Chief Justice Renato Corona and his wife Cristina, who were in his hospital room, chose not to watch the proceeding;  instead they spent the time praying quietly. His family had advised against the Chief’s watching it on TV so as not to overburden his heart, but other relatives and family friends watched it in an adjacent room.

One of those in that adjacent room related to this blogger how the Coronas’ eldest grandchild, 10-year old Franco Corona Castillo, a bright student at Xavier School, who seems to be very close to his grandpa, kept track of the score among the senators; from time to time he would run to his grandparents’ room with results, e.g., three for guilty and two for not guilty. When the conviction votes reached 16, Franco dashed back to their room screaming, “They impeached you, grandpa! They impeached you. “ Then he burst into unconsolable tears. Grandma Tina led him to the bed next to his grandpa to quiet him down.


Franco wasn’t the only one who shed tears that afternoon. At the Senate session hall, members of the defense panel quietly followed the voting and cameramen with their zoom lens swore later that while Atty. Ramon Esguerra was bent over his knees he would periodically wipe the corners of his eyes. Rico Paolo Quicho stared at the ceiling but cameras caught him at some point winking away tears.

The defense panel had, as Atty. Quicho put it, given their client “an honorable fight” in accordance with the highest professionalism. This was in sheer contrast to the bungling of the prosecution which, as Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile noted in his closing remarks, had relied on the court’s subpoena too often to produce evidence, when this should have come complete upon submission of the complaint to the Senate. The prosecution had no evidence of CJ's guilt at the start and just went on one grand fishing expedition.


A lead member of the prosecution, Rep. Rudy Farinas, had early on criticized his team’s complaint as lousy and the 188 signatories as having failed to read the complaint.  Yet, it is the height of irony that the prosecution succeeded in convicting Corona—thus meriting invitations to a grand victory party at the Palace last night, amid reports of fat cash bonuses and multi-million projects for their districts.

This elicited the wry remark from DZBB commentator Joey Reyes Zobel that "namamasko na ang mga House prosecutors." It also gave rise to a new joke about the principle of check-and-balance, as Malacanang understands it: “a check now and the balance later.”

 On the other hand, the defense could not save CJ despite its brilliance---because the case against him was won not due to the complaint’s merits but because of political accommodation of the Palace’s order.


 In fact, an indication of how some of the “Sanctimonious 20” who condemned CJ wore their convictions on their sleeves was the media buzz that some senators  prepared two speeches to read, depending on the voting trend.

  It was also heart-rending that CJ was being crucified for non-disclosure in his SALN of his peso and foreign accounts---monies that, as Senate President Enrile acknowledged in his closing remarks, were NEVER PROVED BY THE PROSECUTION AS ILL-GOTTEN---whereas a good number of his senator-crucifiers doubtless own dollar accounts perhaps even bigger than CJ’s, that were unreported in their SALNs. Moreover, except for three senators, they refused to sign waivers on these accounts.

 As TeddyBoy Locsin noted in his “Tedditorial,” the hypocrisy of the Senate on this issue was stifling.


The Philippine Star has a story today about the dinner meeting of seven senators at Sen. Loren Legarda’s beautiful Forbes Park residence last Sunday “purportedly to map out their  strategy in the impeachment trial of (CJ) Corona.” This blogger learned that it was called at the behest of SP Enrile and attending, aside from hostess Legarda were JPE’s loyal disciples, namely, Jinggoy Estrada, Vicente Sotto and Gregorio Honasan. 

Added to the original list were Manuel Villar and Ramon Revilla III, doubtless because they hold solid political parties, the NP and Lakas, respectively. So secret was the gathering that there were no staffers present except JPE’s chief of staff, Gigi Reyes.

When the impeachment trial was fairly new, former Sen. Ernesto Maceda, an old hand in the Senate, told us that in such an undertaking, where the Senate President goes, there’s the direction of the trial. In the first four months, JPE was being touted everywhere as fair and impartial, the savior of the court. In fact, deposed President Estrada had said that if the presiding judge at his own impeachment trial had been of the caliber of JPE, he would have been acquitted and no walkout would have occurred.


But by May 7, when Corona’s trial resumed after a five-week break, the gallery habitu├ęs all felt the Senate President had changed. He seemed quite partial to the prosecution, despite giving the latter the occasional scrubbing it deserved. A number of gallery habitues thought he looked like a man going through an inner turmoil they didn’t see in the first half of the trial.  The perception that JPE had gone to the prosecution’s side grew stronger as the voting approached.

Last Sunday at Loren’s place, according to reports, JPE proposed to the group to vote as a bloc to convict Corona. Sensing some resistance at first (three were said to be originally for CJ: Estrada, Sotto and Loren), said the reports, JPE became upset and asked what use would such meeting be if they couldn’t unite.

Since last week tremendous pressures were said to be brought to bear on the senators, in the form of promised appointments to government posts for the "graduating" senators and campaign funds for those running again. One of the most targeted was Bongbong Marcos, but to this young man’s credit, he remained unwavering in his support for CJ to the end. By contrast, Legarda appeared to be vacillating over the past two weeks, but last Sunday she was obviously won over to JPE’s side along with Villar.

Last week prosecution was already boasting of 19 votes in its pocket. Had JPE not abandoned CJ, Malacanang would not have gained the 16 it needed.

Posted at Political Tidbits http://www.polbits.com/ by Belinda Olivares-Cunanan, Veteran Journalist and Relentless Advocate of Truth on Wednesday, May 30, 2012at 10:22 PM.

Bangon Bayan!

"The impeachment of CJ Corona is simply about fake charges brought by a Land Grabber against the Judge who ruled his land grab as illegal.

"For 50 years this Land Grabber corrupted all branches of government, the church and mass media to look away from his land grab.

"Without doubt this criminal is the Biggest Land Grabber in PH history, robbing the poor to make himself rich.

"He is aided by no less than the Biggest Plunderer in PH history, who took government assets for "free" by royal decree of the Mother of the Land Grabber.

"Together they are the biggest Media Manipulators of PH ever.

"Together they seek to convict the innocent through bribery and trial by publicity.

"Together they rule this country with hypocrisy and impunity.

Panahon na para Manindigan."

11 May 2012

Hacienda Luisita vs. Supreme Court

Back to status quo
By Carmen N. Pedrosa
(The Philippine Star)
Updated May 12, 2012 12:00 AM

It is ironic but true. The more we deal with alleged “details” in the Corona impeachment the more we are led away from the essential truth.

The battle is between the farmers of Hacienda Luisita and Philippine oligarchy. CJ Renato Corona represents the farmers because the SC decision to return land belonging to them became final and executory under his leadership.

All other issues pale in the face of what will be achieved by the Philippine nation if CJ Corona is acquitted. No wonder there is a determined push to make sure that Corona is convicted.

Two complainants against Corona before the Office of the Ombudsman claimed they did not accuse the Chief Justice of having $10 million in deposits.

One of the complainants, former Rep. Risa Hontiveros was quoted in media websites: “I didn’t say, and we who signed the letter-complaint did not say and did not mention, any amount of $10 million. Why then did it appear in media?”

President Aquino, because he is a member of the family owning Hacienda Luisita, represents the Philippine oligarchy that runs our country.

If CJ Corona is acquitted, the farmers win, democracy wins. If CJ Corona is convicted, the Hacienda Luisita owners win, oligarchy wins. That to me is simplest way to describe the issue facing the country in this impeachment trial.

We are at the crossroads in the shaping of our nation – either we change or we retain the status quo of an unjust structure. If we change it is the many who will benefit. If we retain the status quo it is the few. We will continue with a government of the elite, by the elite and for the elite. This is the unjust structure of our society that has kept us poor for centuries. Which way should we go?

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With a court composed of senator-judges of an elitist system, it would be too optimistic to think that these men and women would give up their control of power and wealth. Remember that these men and women became powerful and wealthy through the present system that ensures the status quo. Unless the electorate can launch a threat to their elections they can be expected to decide against Corona and the SC’s decision in favor of the farmers. But miracles happen. That is why I am averse to counting which way the votes of the senator judges will go. I remain focused on what we will achieve if we uphold CJ Renato Corona and the Supreme Court. In upholding him we achieve a momentous breakthrough in our struggle for a more just society.

Chief Justice Renato Corona cannot escape the cultural and political context of the same system of his accusers. He also belongs to it and that is why the case against him is about wealth and property. But by a twist of fate the impeachment case against him could unhinge the social and political structure of our country. He may never have thought or planned it this way but his fate could be an important catalyst in structural reform. The question remains. What should we do when the powerful steal property from the powerless?

Then again think how long the case of the farmers against Hacienda Luisita has been going on? Decades. No one had ever thought it would be possible for the poor to threaten the wealthy. If the farmers fail this time we face yet again the postponement of a just society for decades, even generations. For this column that is the most important consideration — Hacienda Luisita vs. the Supreme Court is the conflict, but it could also be the breakthrough needed by the nation for a more level-playing field.

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