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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.

Monday, March 12, 2012

P-Noy says nothing less than a conviction of CJ is “acceptable” to him, but he is dictating to the senators how to pass judgment on CJ. What happens if CJ is acquitted? C’mon, Mr. President, show us that you’re Cory’s and Ninoy’s son---accept what comes. That’s how the game is played in a democracy---or don’t you believe in it anymore?



As the Senate impeachment trial reopens today after a week and a half’s rest, with the defense team of Chief Justice Renato Corona prepared to argue his side before the nation, President Aquino was quoted as saying there will be “no acceptable condition” except a conviction of CJ Corona, given the “overwhelming evidence” offered against him by the prosecution in the past two months.  Presidential deputy spokesperson Abigail Valte, right on cue, affirmed her boss’ “condition.”  


Both the statement and its timing ON THE DAY THE DEFENSE TAKES THE FLOOR are SHAMELESS flexing of presidential muscle, as they’re meant to dictate to the senators what they ought to do, even as they themselves still have to hear the defense’s arguments. As Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile keeps reminding the senators, CJ Corona has to be presumed innocent until proved guilty, but obviously P-Noy is not waiting for that. He can only accept CONVICTION of CJ.

XXX

This indeed is the problem: can P-Noy accept an acquittal by the Senate? At this juncture everyone and his uncle have already made a list of the senators and how they think these would vote. Everyone concedes that getting 16 votes to convict even in one Article of Impeachment is quite tough---NOT IMPOSSIBLE, BUT TOUGH, given the disposition in the Senate, the bunglings of the prosecution and the realities of politics, such as the Iglesia vote;  whereas all Corona needs to be acquitted are eight votes in each of the three Articles. The likelihood is that with the defense’s expertise and the appearance of CJ and his wife Cristina at the trial, they can explain the issues that are now hanging in the air and a perplexity to the citizens.

 But the bigger problem is getting P-Noy to accept a defeat, for he has thrown just about everything against Corona. Never before and perhaps never  again will any impeached official undergo such demonizing as what CJ and his family have suffered on orders of the President. Malacanang has mobilized all the agencies of government, including the BIR, the BSP/Amlac and the Palace propaganda machinery, generously aided by ABS-CBN and the two major newspapers. 


Given all these, what would P-Noy do if CJ were still to be acquitted?  

XXX

If P-Noy has everything to lose in an acquittal of Corona, so does CJ have everything to lose in a conviction. It’s zero sum game for the two leaders.  JPE is correct: Corona has no option but to appear at the Senate and disclose his foreign bank account, and to CJ’s credit he has said he would do both. There is no way he can evade these two situations now, and like the true-blue Batangueno that he is, Corona undoubtedly will show up.  This is the reason also why I think that the two scenarios recently spoken of by my good friend Ellen Tordesillas of Malaya, and repeated in her popular blog, are difficult to believe. 
Let me quote Ellen:
 “Reliable sources said even as Corona was going on an offense, he has asked another retired SC justice (not Nachura) to relay a message to Malacanang that he might consider resigning if he would be allowed to name his successor. Malacanang, we were told, said, ‘No way.’
“Corona’s latest offer, our source said, was he is willing to resign on condition that he keeps everything that he has now.
“It’s still ‘No way’ from Malacanang.
“Ano siya, sinuswerte?”

XXX

Frankly, I cannot imagine CJ Corona asking any favor from Malacanang such as those two reported in Ellen’s column (perhaps a more imaginable petition from CJ could be: "lay off the Senate.").  Even during the 2010 campaign P-Noy was already targeting Corona; and as the BSP/Amlac developments showed, as testified to by PSB President Pascual Garcia III and which JPE is inclined to believe, there appears to have been a conspiracy in financial/banking circles to get CJ through his bank accounts as early as the last quarter of 2010, when P-Noy was barely in office for a few months. 


Some observers familiar with the corridors of the banking institutions allege in that issue the possible orchestration by Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Sen. Franklin Drilon and “The Firm” of Pancho Villaraza, which is the legal counsel of the BSP?
.  
Moreover, with the deluge of bad publicity against Corona raked up by the combined forces of government (INCLUDING THE DESPICABLE RESORT OF THE YELLOW MEDIA TO MILK A 30-YEAR OLD FAMILY FEUD OF THE BASAS, highlighting the so-called testimony of a 90-year old religious who obviously wasn’t aware of the legal complications of that feud over time), would CJ have any chance at all for a “settlement” of his case?

XXX

But above all, coming to terms with P-Noy about his impeachment seems out of character with CJ. From the very beginning, when the impeachment case against him was filed by the House’s ROBOTIC 188 on Dec. 12, Corona had vowed before the cheering horde at the steps of the SC that he would fight to the end to clear his name and answer all the issues. Walang atrasan, he had promised---which is why the judiciary personnel almost to a man as well as the board of governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines have consistently supported him. I cannot see Corona now seeking favors from the Palace.


In fact, as he has repeatedly said in media, it was the Palace that had sought favors from him, which he unequivocably said he couldn’t accommodate on LEGAL GROUNDS.

XXX

For Corona, it’s a lonely quest for justice for himself and to shield the judiciary from the executive’s encroachment. What he probably thought would be easy sailing as the highest magistrate until his retirement on Oct. 14, 2018 was not meant to be. But he has come this far in his fight against tyranny and one man’s dictatorial desire to control all the branches of government---that CJ just has to keep fighting to the end. But in this quest he has the support of right-thinking Filipinos who fear the resurgence of one-man rule and want to protect that last bastion of independence and the rule of law---the Supreme Court.  

Corona has reiterated that he has not lost faith in the fairness of the Senate impeachment court and that he is ready to accept its verdict---win or lose (he must be aware that from the “original offer” to the senators of a bribe of P100 million each, the game is now said to have become “name your price.”).  Corona knows that he could lose the shirt on his back, but he said he will accept whatever comes.

For P-Noy, however, the only acceptable condition is his protagonist's conviction. We citizens should then ask: why can’t P-Noy display the same nobility that CJ displays? For once, P-Noy, can you show that you’re Ninoy’s and Cory’s son?  Abide by what will come---win or lose. That’s how the game is played in a democracy. Or do you no longer believe in it?


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