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.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter, the Church’s most significant feast, celebrates Christ’s triumph over death, without which our faith “comes to no gain.” CJ Corona cites sufferings of Son of Man in his Lenten message, amid his own vicious and savage persecution (but Valte says why the CJ’s message?). Sen. Gringo Honasan says CJ’s family “should have been spared of agony of impeachment, had the prosecution been a little kinder, more considerate.”

 Blessed Easter to one and all. May the Risen Lord shower our country and people with abundant blessings to withstand all the trials and tribulations that may come our way and unite us all in pursuit of the common good.

In the physical world, Easter Sunday comes after the first full moon in spring, and as we saw last night, a painfully beautiful moon sailed across the breathtakingly clear sky. In temperate countries, this is the season when the first re-stirrings of nature are seen in the shrubbery after the harsh winter, and people are moved to heady emotions. Note the annual Easter Parade in New York City, where women don the fanciest hats and attires as they march down Manhattan in full gaiety, as though to shackle off the straight-jacket of winter. 

In the spiritual world, however, Easter Sunday is when we celebrate the Resurrection of the Lord, His glorious triumph over death. This is the most significant event in the Church calendar (yes, more significant than Christmas, although we Pinoys are more a Christmas people than an Easter people), for  as St. Paul tells us, without the Resurrection our faith comes to no gain.


As I wrote in my Holy Thursday blog, I decided this year to spend Holy Week in the city, instead of going off to the beach or to traditional vacation spots.  My late husband of 45 years was an indefatigable traveler and a couple of times he bundled the whole family for a drive through the Cagayan Valley, visiting its beautiful churches; at another time it was the churches of the Ilocos. 

Eight or nine years ago my husband and I and one of our sons were able to spend Holy Week in Paris. On the advice of our Paris-based friends Aquilino and Lilia Opena we lined up on Good Friday with hordes of tourists at the famed Notre Dame Cathedral for the once-in-a-lifetime experience of viewing the glass-encased Crown of Thorns of Jesus Christ, which is displayed to the public only on that day each year. 


I didn’t regret staying in town this week, as I was able to attend practically all the Lenten rituals, which the Church, steeped in traditions of centuries, is so rich in. I was like a little child reveling in Lenten minutiae, e.g., on Holy Thursday's mass the Holy Host distributed was dipped in the Blood of Christ (under the appearance of wine), so that the faithful could not receive it in his hand but straight to his lips. But on Good Friday, the mass was abbreviated, without the bells and the final blessing (which was given at the Easter Vigil Mass on Holy Saturday night); but to make up for it our parish staged the senaculo, complete with the “crucifixion” of Christ and the two thieves, acted out by committed young people.

The ritual attending the transfer of the Eucharist to the special altar of adoration on Holy Thursday is also well-pronounced and that night I did a couple of visits to churches around the Makati-Bonifacio area where devotees streamed in and out. The visita iglesia is alive and well, and in fact, a number of youngsters I know were part of the horde that trekked all night on Holy Thursday and early Good Friday to Antipolo as part of their yearly panata.


As I had written earlier, Holy Week was also an occasion to ponder on the fate of personalities who had gone or are undergoing their own personal version of Calvary and the crucifixion.

 This week much of my thoughts were with Chief Justice Renato Corona, his wife Cristina and their family, and what they are undergoing. Early last December the demonizing of CJ by the Aquino administration began, a week or so after the Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision (with only Associate Justice Antonio Carpio abstaining) ordering the distribution of the Hacienda Luisita lands to the farmer-tenants. What angered President Aquino apparently was the fact that Corona, in heated en banc discussions, batted to compensate the Cojuangcos based on 1989 prices, which was so remote from the P10 billion based on 2006 valuation that another justice was insisting on.


After a series of direct attacks by P-Noy of CJ in public forums, the House of Representatives rushed bullet-train fashion Corona’s impeachment with 188 votes last Dec. 12, and Senate trial commenced within a month.  Since then all agencies of government have been mobilized to persecute CJ and his family. Simultaneous with the trial, the BIR hit them with investigations of their income, but investigation of his bank accounts appeared to have been conducted by the Anti-Money Laundering Council as early as the first semester of this administration.

False accusations were made about CJ’s alleged 45 properties here and alleged two in the US, with nary an apology when most of these were disproved. Only five properties here and not even one abroad, Corona insisted; but the falsehoods were already trumpeted by various pro-Aquino media eager to conduct the more effective trial outside the courtroom---a trial by publicity---whereas the prosecution’s case had collapsed inside (from eight Articles of Impeachment it was forced to shrink them to only three, a clear sign that it had little solid evidence).   


Those of us in media who are by now veterans of impeachment proceedings  have been aghast at the viciousness and savagery of the persecution that CJ and his family have been subjected to. I covered the Estrada impeachment trial that was aborted after three weeks, but I know for a fact that the prosecution then was far more humane to impeached President Estrada, and the House members sought the truth by buttressing their evidence and adhering to defined rules of engagement. For instance, when Citibank said it could not disclose Erap's foreign accounts because of the law prohibiting unauthorized disclosures, the prosecution respected it.

 But the prosecution in CJ’s case is different: it has no qualms in resorting to fairy tales about a “little lady” and “an envelop left at a gate” and stealing bank documents, to bring out in yellow media what couldn’t be done legally in the trial court. It's easy to see terrorized the other SC magistrates could be,  seeing how their Chief is being persecuted.

Sen. Gregorio Honasan rightly put it when he said, “The family of Chief Justice Renato Corona, especially his children, should have been spared from the agony of his impeachment trial if his critics had been kinder, more considerate and compassionate.”  Perhaps in a impeachment such virtues can be extravagance, but definitely truth should be served, not fairy tales nor naked distortions of evidence.


CJ Corona himself couldn’t fail to see a parallelism between his own agony and that of the Man on the Cross.  In his Easter message (which presidential loudspeaker Abigail Valte was quick to decry by arrogantly saying “We’re not aware that the Chief Justice traditionally releases an Easter message.” The poor nitwit soon realized her stupidity and later resorted to  “no comment.”), Corona said: “Easter is a story of penitence, perseverance and faith. It began when the chief priests and other leaders plotted against the Son of God, leading to His arrest, mockery, trial and crucifixion.”

CJ noted that Christ’s persecution reflects what people go through nowadays “where the temple of justice is shaken by tectonic plates of political expediency, and in a government where leaders take away the rights of others to give in to the demands of the mob.”


He continued: “The sufferings caused by such injustice by complicity, trial by publicity and conviction by popular opinion seem like dark thunderstorm clouds. But in the end, it will still be between us and our Creator, just like the time of the Son of Man when He called on His Heavenly Father. The sacrifice of Christ is a timely reminder to value our ideals and principles to the point of risking everything for them.”

Said CJ: “The message of a Risen Christ gives us strength, hope and solace. This occasion, therefore, is a welcome opportunity for us to reaffirm our courage and thank the Almighty for His unceasing grace as we face an unknown tomorrow and uncertain future.” Corona continued that the promise of Easter gives the people the resolve “to overcome hate and division and help us tread the path of peace and faith towards a society free from poverty, violence and injustice.”

Amen to this prayer. May the Lord of Justice and History impart on the Senate trial, that will resume on May 7, the wisdom and discernment to sift through the untruths and demagoguery being generously dished out in media and in manipulated surveys, in order that it may arrive at a just and fair decision toward the accused.

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  1. Amen to that too, Ma'am.

    Am sure there are Senator-judges who still adhere to the Rules of Law, and am sure too that they know that the impeachment of Chief Justice Renato Corona was done in haste upon the orders of Pres. Benigno Aquino III.

    But, as I've previously written, the fate of Chief Justice Corona will partly depend on the evidence presented by the Prosecution team [which so far ay wala pang solid evidence na ipinakita], the rebuttal of the Defense Team and largely in the coming 2013 mid term elections.

    I say again that the X factor here will be the Iglesia ni Cristo vote. The re-electionist Senators, even if they are allied with Pres. Aquino III couldn't afford to lose the INC vote.

    I agree with you Ma'am that these Senators seeking reelection couldn't afford to antagonize the INC hierachy, but can afford to quarrel with Noynoy and make amends later after the election.

    Siyempre, uunahin ng mga re-lectionists yung sarili nilang political agenda, at saka na si Pnoy.

    Political survival pa din ang mangingibabaw.