Starting about two weeks ago, Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona started conducting interviews with the media, and also started appearing more often in public forums. These were the forums wherein he spoke out against every accusation leveled at him by the President, his critics, and the Basas.
Was it truly a wise decision for him to come out speaking to the media? Objectively speaking, he was never a match for President Aquino, who is backed up by media juggernauts ABS-CBN and PDI. Between a scholar with a soft voice and a moron with a megaphone, who do you think the people are going to listen to? The answer is the no-brainer.
With one week to go before the Senate goes into recess on March 23, they are aiming to reach a verdict in the current impeachment trial before doing so. Everybody, most especially the senator-judges themselves, is growing tired of it, and his/her patience has already worn out due to this proceeding that has more or less played out like a telenovela. It is also not a stretch of the imagination to say that this trial has brought development in the country to a halt.
Undoubtedly, the question on a lot of people’s minds is this: Is Chief Justice (CJ) Renato Corona going to take the witness stand or not?
Indeed, only CJ Corona can truly explain all the numbers with regards to his properties, liabilities, income, and so on. Yet he does not have to. Under Article 3, section 17 of the Constitution, no person shall be compelled to be a witness against himself. Some may argue that the above provision only applies to criminal cases, and that this one is not. Yet it still does not change the fact that ultimately, it is the defense council’s prerogative if he is to testify.
More importantly, one should ask: should CJ Corona even take the witness stand? Dig deeper, and you will find even more important questions that need to be answered first.
1. Who stands to benefit if he testifies?
2. Will his testimony actually help his own case?
3. What does CJ Corona stand to gain, or lose, once he does take the witness stand?
4. Does the concept of truth, that supposedly CJ Corona’s testimony will unlock, have actual substance in it, or is it yet another vacuous claim purported by the vox stultorum?
5. Is the failure to disclose acquisition cost actually an impeachable offense?
It is simple, really. Putting CJ Corona on the witness stand is like sending in a hunter into the tiger’s cave alone. The prosecution lawyers will only be too willing and gigil na gigil(eager) to humiliate him, instead of cross-examining him properly, like real lawyers do. The senators who have clearly shown their allegiance to the President will only be too happy to pounce on him and serve him up to the king of the pack in pieces. Even senator Enrile’s promise that he would resign should disrespect be shown to CJ Corona is not going to help. He is actually the one person who has kept some sort of order amid the chaos in this kangaroo court of a trial. Those who have been eyeing his seat will only be too happy that the number of dissenting voices will be one less. Does Franklin Drilon come to mind, anyone?
Putting CJ Corona on the witness stand will just compound the big error that this whole impeachment trial was from the very start. Thanks to Congressman Tiangco’s testimony, that the impeachment complaint was railroaded and defective from the start is no longer hearsay.
In a way, I understand Senator Enrile’s ruling that the SALN’s of other officials is immaterial to CJ Corona’s case. What I do not understand is whether he and the other open minds in the Senate have already seen the bigger picture. The Chief Justice is merely being used as an example, and a scapegoat being hung out to dry.
The law must apply to all, or none at all.
Regarding the SALN discrepancies, let’s do it this way. Why don’t they audit the SALN’s of each and every member of Congress and see how well he/she can explain whatever discrepancies could come out? If Malacañang is quick to dismiss any doubts on Butch Abad’s SALN, why don’t we get a third-party auditor, unaffiliated with the President, or any Philippine law maker, for that matter? Why don’t we see how well every single congressman can explain everything on the statement? Why are the congressmen so afraid of putting their own statements on the line if they have got nothing to hide?
Pandora’s box has already been opened with this impeachment trial, anyway. Why don’t we take out the last remaining thing, hope, as well? Hope in what, exactly? Is this trial going to be the one thing that is going to breach the Filipino’s tolerance for impunity? Will this trial set the precedent for any and all steps that we are going to take towards finally getting the transparent government we have been failing at for almost three decades?
If there is one person whom I would personally like to see testify, it is the President himself, Benigno Aquino III. It is the ultimate opportunity for accuser and accused to meet face-to-face in court. Yet if the Senate are unable to subpoena the judges of the Supreme Court, I doubt they will have more success summoning him. And frankly, I think his testimony will add nothing of substance.