Most of us have come to expect pandemonium when it comes to the impeachment trials of our public officials and that is usually what we get. I must say that this is one for the books. We all knew that Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Coronaâ€™s appearance in his impeachment trial would be filled with drama. But what we didnâ€™t expect after his long-winded testimony was the added twist in the end, right before Corona excused himself from the witness stand.
The Chief Magistrate of the Supreme Court had a simple explanation for excluding his dollar deposits from his statement of asset, liability and net worth. (SALN). His dollar account was covered by the Foreign Currency Deposit Republic Act 6426, which states that dollar accounts by individuals are absolutely confidential in nature. And his challenge to his accusers, all 189 Congressmen including Senator Franklin Drilon, is to sign a waiver similar to what he signed authorizing the disclosure of his dollar accounts.
According to Corona, if they do not sign the waiver allowing the disclosure of their own dollar accounts, then his interpretation of the dollar secrecy law will be proven correct – that they are not required by law to include their dollar accounts in their own SALN. The first to react negatively to this was none other than Senator Frank Drilon who branded Corona â€œpatheticâ€ and confirmed that he wouldnâ€™t sign the waiver. Drilon made no secret of the animosity he felt for the Chief Justice by saying â€œI wonâ€™t stoop down to his levelâ€. One wonders why the Senator still hasnâ€™t inhibited himself from being a judge in the impeachment court. Surely he cannot remain objective with his kind of attitude.
After Coronaâ€™s remarkable testimony, most of his detractors are still saying that his words are not enough to exonerate him. They are so predictable, indeed. I have been saying all along that Chief Justice Coronaâ€™s testimony will not be enough to satisfy his detractors. True enough, a lot of people are now saying that he needs to provide proof to support his statements. Never mind that that was exactly what the defense team was trying to do earlier in the presentation all while being repeatedly told that only Corona could shed light to all the allegations against him. We recall that it was even Presiding Officer Senator Juan Ponce Enrile who was impatiently dispensing earlier testimonies by defense witnesses saying that they are â€œirrelevantâ€. But now Senator Enrile is adamant that Corona has to be cross-examined immediately or else his three hour testimony will be stricken off the record; this despite Coronaâ€™s poor state of health on his first day.
Private prosecutor, Mario Bautista even denied forcing Corona to testify but the records show that the prosecution has been asking in every day of the trial when the defense team will present their client. When Corona was finally narrating his own defense, however, some of the members of the prosecution team could be seen visibly joking around. It seems they were not really interested in what Corona had to say. Similar attitudes of indifference from the anti-Corona mob was noted with others saying his narration was boring them. Itâ€™s as if these people can see his mouth move but they canâ€™t hear him over the sound of their narrow-minded views.
And whatâ€™s with some peopleâ€™s cynicism after Corona fell ill? Is it too difficult for Filipinos to believe that a person could be sick? Does one have to die just to prove that he was sick? What is wrong with our society? Majority of us do not even seem to have an ounce of compassion for a man who was visibly affected by months of persecution by his political enemies. Corona was practically begging for people to hear him out plead for his innocence but his detractors can only give him scornful jeers and more accusations that he is just faking his illness or doing an a la â€œGMAâ€ supposedly so he can get away from being cross-examined by the prosecution.
It is so easy for Corona’s detractors to ridicule him without bothering to consider what he and his family must be going through. I wonder how these people will handle being under scrutiny by the government, the media and the public for months. I wonder how they would feel about the idea of having the full force of the Aquino government bearing down on them and turning their life upside down.
Yes, the Filipino peopleâ€™s vindictiveness is in full view once again as they prejudge Corona even before the court does similar to how they prejudged Former President Ferdinand Marcos, Joseph Estrada and Gloria Arroyo even before the court rendered a â€œguiltyâ€ verdict. Past witch-hunts did not change the condition of the poor in the Philippines though. It just changed the names of public officials in power.
To be fair, I can understand why some people are disappointed. Coronaâ€™s alleged walk-out from the courtroom was unexpected. It seemed like a sign that he was fed up with the Kangaroo Court. I can understand that too. If I were in his shoes, I would be mad at the Senator Judges of the impeachment court as well. Anyone with half a brain should have thrown the baseless and badly-written impeachment complaints filed by Congress out the window even before the trial started. It was probably obvious to Corona that some Senators tolerated the violations of the prosecution because they were allied with the Aquino government. How can you actually respect a court that you perceive to be too biased against you? Corona being only human can be forgiven for thinking that some of the Senator Judges were going to convict him no matter what he said or did anyway.
Most of us have come to expect a circus show when we watch our politicians conduct their â€œbusinessâ€. Sometimes it ends with the signature street revolution. Sometimes it ends tragically with someoneâ€™s death. For Corona it can end both ways. The Aquino government with the help of the Filipino people and their total disregard for Coronaâ€™s wellbeing have already convicted him even before the trial ended. That is the way the cookie crumbs in the Philippines.
[Photo courtesy Yahoo! News.]