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, May 10, 2012

CJ Corona stuns the Senate impeachment court---and the Filipino people---with his sudden decision to testify and rebut his multi-million $ accusers. Win or lose, CJ has already won the hearts of the people, who love true grit and heroes. His accusers one by one wash their hands over the $ issue.

It's deny, deny time, folks. Faced with the frighteningly coercive subpoena from the Senate, the accusers of Chief Justice Corona in the three complaints about alleged bank accounts totaling $10million are now all washing their hands over the messy affair. The subpoena issued yesterday by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, upon request of Corona’s lawyers, commands the accusers not only to testify at the Senate trial, but also to produce documents supporting their allegations.

This latter order is the tougher demand, as now the accusers realize it's far easier to malign a person than to produce evidence UNDER OATH. CJ's accusers only intended to buttress Malacanang's and the yellow media's thrust that he is a corrupt official; but now that they have to produce the evidence in the glare of the Senate impeachment court, naghuhugas-kamay na sila.


As gathered from defense sources, CJ Corona hit the roof and turned red in the face when his lawyers furnished him with copies of the complaints on the $10 million allegation last Tuesday morning. Like a true Batangueno, so the story goes, he uttered an expletive in Filipino and said, enough is enough, tama na, sobra na---he wants to face his accusers. CJ ordered his lawyers to “turn these libelous insults into perjury” by putting them UNDER OATH as they repeat their accusations in the impeachment court, where he would prove them to be liars.  


Sources say that before he met with his lawyers he had a brief moment with his wife Tina and daughter Carla, who wept as he told them of his decision. His wife reportedly was against his testifying in court, as she doubtless was afraid of how he could be treated by the senator-judges whose words and actuations cannot be questioned by his lawyers. But as the French would put it, le moment inexorable est arrive.

The Supreme Court's decision of last November ordering the distribution of Hacienda Luisita and assigning a valuation at 1989 prices of the land triggered his blitzkrieg impeachment. Since then CJ has been pummeled with the most terrible and humiliating blows from the President and his partisans inside the courtroom and in yellow media.

Despite the brilliance of his defense panel, there seemed little hope of victory for the embattled Chief Justice because of the complex web of factors---the looming elections in 2013 and the awesome political powers that the ruling party can muster; a President who has little qualms about employing the entire machinery of government toward the ouster of his political enemy;  a partisan yellow tri-media, the reported change of wind in the Senate, etc. It seemed lost for CJ---until what political pundits termed the GAME CHANGER emerged.


A lawyer-observer I was talking to explained CJ's predicament with the boxing metaphor: he seemed so down and out that his opponents were already doing a count-down to a knock-out---until the $10 million accusation surfaced. Then like a boxer with true grit CJ suddenly rose--- nose bloodied, eyes swollen--- to counter-punch back into the fight. 

CJ’s decision to testify, announced with studied calm by defense lawyer Judd Roy, was kept a tight secret by the defense panel until nearly 6pm. of Tuesday. When it came---after two weeks of hemming and hawing on the part of the defense on whether to put him on the witness stand or not--- it stunned everyone in the Senate hall, including the prosecution and their allies, as well as the nation watching and listening on radio-TV. JPE himself, after recovering, eagerly promised to issue the corresponding subpoenas. 


As the lawyer-observer put it, whether Corona in the end wins or loses this FIGHT OF HIS LIFE, the fact is that he has already won in the hearts and minds of the people (never mind the false surveys). This is because he has shown his mettle---the stuff he’s made of, a true fighter.

 CJ already emerged a hero of marginalized Filipinos in the Luisita decision that was resolved with finality two weeks ago. But because Pinoys love boxing and boxers, said this lawyer-analyst, CJ became an even bigger hero because he chose to fight back--- and defend not only his name but the independence of the institution he heads, THE JUDICIARY---when the odds were down.


Regarding the "hugas-kamay" song and dance by the multi-million $ accusers, Harvey Keh, lead convenor of Kaya Natin Movement, now says he was just an “emissary” of the fat envelop containing 50 pages of supposed documents on those accounts, which he personally delivered at the office of SP Enrile. Keh publicly said he just saw the envelop of docus on his table and didn’t think twice about delivering it to JPE.

Later Keh was quoted as saying he doubted the authenticity of the docus and that the whole thing may even be "a prank." OMG, but you have already maligned the reputation of another person, Mr. Keh!

JPE had the good sense not to share the docus from Keh with the prosecution who were asking for copies---arguing that he did not want to be party to any possible crime. Recall that Sen. Miriam Santiago pointed out weeks back, possession of documents or even mere inquiry into someone’s foreign-denominated accounts could be criminally liable under the Foreign Currency Deposits Act.


Harvey Keh’s fairy tale completes the fantasia tales of the “little lady,”  the ghost delivery of docus at Rep. Banal’s gate on a rainy night, the spurious list of 45 properties from LRA and fake US property accusations, etc. Sirang sira si Harvey Keh sa issue na ito, and the tragedy is that no one now can take the Kaya Natin Movement seriously, which counts with such advocates of good governance as Grace Padaca, Among Ed Panlilio and Jess Lorenzo.

Former Rep. Risa Hontiveros now says she never claimed in her complaint that the CJ had $10 million in his accounts, never mind if she went to town with such allegation. Rep.Walden Bello swears he's "clueless" about it. But why did he affix his signature in one of the complaints? Was it forged?  If so, note observers, Bello should complain to the president of his party, Presidential Political Adviser Ronald Llamas, who's reported to be behind the multi-million $ plot vs. CJ.


At the rate the signatories are denying involvement, it might turn out that Ombudsman Carpio Morales just dreamt the whole thing. But it was her own doing. The signatories sent her the complaints with no evidence to back up their allegations (the docus didn’t even have account numbers), but presto, she immediately issued a letter to CJ demanding an explanation. Now she's admitting that she based her demand solely on news accounts.

Those news accounts contained nothing new, but Carpio-Morales pushed the button on the CJ. Fairness and elementary decency, however, should have dictated that Carpio-Morales, a former colleague of Corona in the SC, await the result of the Senate impeachment, instead of creating a second front vs. Corona. Her move is  simply cheap harassment.  

The positive aspect for CJ, however, is that should the $10 million complaint gain official cognizance in the Senate court through the appearance of the subpoenaed accusers, then a second impeachment complaint against CJ can no longer be filed this December, based on this issue. 

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  1. The Prosecution Team is pretending they know nothing about the brown envelope containing the US dollar and Euro accounts of CJ Renato Corona that found its way to the office of Harvey Keh, Lead Convenor of Kaya Natin Movement. Keh said he did not share the documents [presumably to the Prosecutors] because he was unsure if these were authentic or just a “prank.” Given that kind of reasoning, Keh could have opted to leave the documents as is, where is. But he granted an Interview with Henry Omaga Diaz of ABS-CBN, called three reporters of the Philippine Daily Inquirer and went to the Office of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, instead of going directly to one of the Prosecutor-Congressmen. That’s part of the script para hindi mahalata na may alam ang mga Prosecutors.

    The ploy of the Prosecutors here is reminiscent of the Erap impeachment, wherein the Defense Team of Erap vehemently objected to the opening of a white [now its brown] envelope supposedly containing the details of the Jose Velarde account. The Defense Team argued that it was not part of the evidence. The non-opening of the envelope led to the scripted walk-out of the Prosecutors that led to People Power II. And as the saying goes, the rest is history.

    When the Prosecutors crafted this strategy, they were presuming that when SP Juan Ponce Enrile will present the brown envelope at the Senate Impeachment Court for opening, the defense team would object to its opening since it’s not part of the evidence. Of course, both the Defense and the Prosecution Panel will again be into another legal wranglings until such time the trial is suspended. There will be press conference at siyempre uunahin ng Yellow Media ang Prosecution Team. CJ Corona will again be vilified no end.

    But this ploy of the Prosecutors may have backfired on them, because Defense Counsel Atty. Judd Jose Roy III announced that CJ Corona will testify provided Omb. Conchita Carpio Morales, Cong. Walden Bello, Riza Hontiveros, Harvey Keh and Emmanuel Santos Tiu will also testify. SP Enrile agreed to subpoena the personalities mentioned by Atty Roy.

    Now, the Prosecutors are distancing themselves from that story woven by Hontiveroz and Bello. Cong. Erin Tanada and Cong. Miro Quimbo, two of the Prosecution’s most outspoken spokespersons said they are not keen on using the US$10.0 million account of CJ Corona as added evidence. They said Omb. Morales must first make a report and have to read and evaluate the contents before they decide.

    Riza Hontiveros is singing a different tune now. She said she doesn’t remember the source of the story, when she was interviewed by Anthony Taberna in Punto por Punto last April 30. Walden Bello said he is clueless about the source of the US$10.0 million Corona account. Keh said he can not ascertain the authenticity of the documents he received but brought it to the office of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile just the same.

    Poor Omb. Conchita Morales. She is now alone, burdened with the load of making a report without any basis to begin with. She must be shaking her head now. Siya pa ngayon ang napasubo at ginawang panangga ng Prosecution.

  2. Hi, rexyboy56, as usual,your analysis is on the nose. Will use it in tonite's blog to be posted by 5pm. TY and let's pray for justice for CJ.

  3. Thanks Mam Bel. Palace urged CJ Corona to tell the truth. Of course he will tell the truth and the truth will set him free. The truth will spell doom for Pnoy and his lapdogs. By the way, Happy Mother's Day po.