Political Tidbits is the prestigious column of Belinda Olivares-Cunanan that ran for 25 continuous years in the op-ed page of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the newspaper that she helped put up with its multi-awarded founder, the legendary Eugenia Duran-Apostol, in December 1985, just two months before the EDSA Revolution.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Kuryente in North Cotabato and kuryente in the Senate impeachment trial; senators perplexed by the magnitude of LRA Administrator Eulalio Diaz III’s incompetence and his cavalier attitude about the gross errors of his 45 properties list

In North Cotabato, as its courageous lady governor Emilou Talino-Mendoza complained to Manila Standard star reporter Christine F. Herrera, the problem is the lack of KURYENTE:  the horrible eight-hour blackouts in Mindanao.  Gov. Mendoza asserts that “Imperial Manila” is “noynoying” the problem of Mindanao’s electricity (translation: doing nothing)---she alleged that the Palace wants the big island “to submit to its plan to privatize the hydrothermal power plants and accept power barges from big business that charges exorbitant fees of P14/kilowatt hour.” 

 Gov. Mendoza asserts that the government agencies in “Imperial Manila” that ought to deal with the massive black-outs in Mindanao are simply “noynoying” the problem, in order to please the powerful business empires that own the energy sources there. In the meantime, asserts Gov. Mendoza, the people of her province, which, ironically, hosts the Mt. Apo Geothermal Power Plant run by the Lopezes, are also “noynoying” as “they have nothing to do and are helpless about the blackouts that hit us every day.”  


In the Senate, as was evident in the past two days of impeachment hearings, the problem is also KURYENTE, but of another kind. Land Registration Authority Administrator Eulalio Diaz III resorted to kuryente of the media, the prosecution, the senator-judges and ultimately the Filipino people when he presented an official listing of 45 properties allegedly belonging to Chief Justice Renato Corona and his family;  but in the last two days of the hearing the defense summoned Diaz as its witness and extracted from him the admission that 29 titles had been cancelled from that list.

Diaz, a batch-mate of President Aquino at the Ateneo, who served as Aquino’s former staffer at the Senate for three years and was part of his legal team in the May 2010 campaign, resorted to WHOLESALE KURYENTE when at the request of the prosecution in early January, he turned over an unverified computer-generated listing that included properties of “namesakes” of the CJ and other people completely unrelated and even unknown to the Coronas.


Senators Loren Legarda and Bongbong Marcos sought to establish how the listing of 45 properties came about. Loren, sounding quite techie, got Diaz to admit that it was a “general name search,” i.e., including those belonging to people with the same family names. Marcos, a keen listener, caught that line of Diaz where he said that the system used in generating those 45 properties was DISCONTINUED right after the list was submitted to the prosecution. Queried by Marcos why, Diaz said the system showed some “weakness” that could be capitalized upon by unscrupulous elements, so that his office wanted to rectify it (how true is the rumor that the person who actually produced that list was already terminated?).

In another strange twist, Diaz admitted that the “Corona search,” as Bongbong termed it, was not subject to “rules” as it was for use in the Corona impeachment "where I had to help out.” That flabbergasted Marcos even more, and by then all the senators---and doubtless everyone else in this country tuning in on TV---were reeling from confusion.  Because of the delicateness of the Corona properties information sought from LRA, shouldn’t rules have applied in its handling, more than anywhere else?

Diaz’s testimony in the past two days was studded with inconsistencies which, though minor in some aspects, only showed that he and the prosecution led by Rep. Niel Tupas were lying. Even Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, usually very studied in his words, was forced to utter, “Companero, medyo malabo ang istorya mo.” (Ah, but in the light of such bare-faced lies, we victims run to humor to save our sanity. Savor this texted wisecrack: “Sabi ni Tupas ipinakuha niya sa driver niya ang LRA docus; sabi ni Diaz ipinahatid daw niya iyon ki Tupas sa driver niya.  Di kaya nagbanggaan ang dalawang drivers?”).


To me there are two most troubling aspects of this Diaz fiasco. One was his “cavalier attitude,” as Sen. Joker Arroyo put it, in merely shrugging off the errors in that list. As yesterday’s session ended, of the 45 properties in Diaz's   stupid list the defense claimed only five as truly owned by CJ and his wife, while prosecution still disputed a sixth one. Diaz displayed little remorse in having destroyed a family’s name and reputation---parang wala lang sa kanya! 

In a related manner, Sen. Pia Cayetano correctly pointed out that because the list of 45 properties was the OFFICIAL RESPONSE of the LRA Administrator to the official request of the prosecution, it carried tremendous weight and undoubtedly caused so much harm to Corona. For as Pia and other senators stressed, Diaz made no effort to qualify in his accompanying letter that the information is raw and needs item-by-item verification.


It was left to Sen. Jinggoy Estrada to point out that the giant media outfits went to town with this eye-popping disclosure from LRA.  Jinggoy asked Diaz whether he made an attempt to rectify the error in the media and the witness didn't seem to even comprehend the question. The damage to CJ Corona is evident from the Pulse Asia survey taken from Feb. 26 to March 9, just before the defense began its presentation of evidence and witnesses. No matter whether Pulse Asia and SWS have “interlocking directorships” dominated by Cojuangco relatives,  the fact remains that a sizable chunk of the population believes Corona is guilty. The major reason was that shocking  and highly erroneous listing of 45 properties. 

The prosecution shares considerable blame for the properties fiasco, for it obviously did not bother to check out the data in Diaz’s listing.  I recall how that obnoxious prosecution spokesperson with generous serving of gel in his hair, Rep. Miro Quimbo (he of the Globe Asiatique controversy, where as head of Pag-Ibig  he stands accused of unjustifiably accommodating Delfin Lee with over P6 billion in loans) kept waving that list in press conferences, trying hard to sound like Mr. Clean. It was a grand conspiracy between Diaz and the prosecution from the outset, and the longer the listing the better for them. As Sen. Jinggoy queried, “Upon whose orders were they both acting?”


As in the case of North Cotabato Gov. Emilou Talino-Mendoza, it took the three brave lady senators to lead the way in stripping this Diaz fiasco of its falsities and putting it in stark perspective. Loren Legarda deplored the “inaccuracies, incompetence and sloth” that characterized Diaz’s work, and how it obviously showed “that no complete staff work was done. “ Senadora Miriam Defensor Santiago, eyes slitting in wrath, lambasted Diaz for not checking his data when he fully knew that “there was already a brewing political firestorm.”

Citing a number of SC and other court decisions that she always presents in a scholarly manner in every argument she takes head-on, Miriam pointed out violations of standards of human behavior embodied in the Civil Code, as codified by Justice Jorge Bocobo, grandfather of Leslie Bocobo and Gary Bocobo Olivar. These are as follows: Every person must, in the exercise of his rights and in the performance of his duties, l). Act with justice, 2) Give everyone his due and, 3). Observe honesty and good faith.” It should also be pointed out that these basic tenets have also been the pillars since forever of every major religion in the world.

Sen. Miriam adjudged Diaz guilty of gross negligence that “borders on malice,” and warned him that “you are standing on the brink and all I have to do is to push you with one finger and you will fall.” If Diaz does not resign out of delicadeza, a case should be filed against him for gross negligence and irresponsibility or dereliction of duty. Otherwise, government officials would think they could always get away with just a slap on the wrist. 

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  1. same with thick-faced tupas, he should likewise be disbarred.

  2. You're right, Mr.Unknown, Diaz ought to be disbarred. And as Matteo suggested above, the same with "thick-faced Tupas, he should likewise be disbarred." What is now very evident is that the House 188 simply jumped when P-Noy ordered CJ Corona impeached, and only after the impeachment complaint was signed in record time of two hours did they start looking for the evidence. They needed Diaz's list of 45 properties, which included even the sickly Mel Mathay in it, as "evidence," the longer the list the better kuno. Kind regards to you both.