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, May 21, 2012

CJ Corona’s testimony in Senate serendipitously begins on Feast of Sta. Rita of Cascia---the “Advocate of the Impossible.” Reports say P-Noy's leaders seek to cushion impact of INC support for CJ by assuring reelectionist senators who would convict CJ that PCOS machines will help them. Is this why Comelec is vociferously fighting Tandem's petition for TRO of contract with Smartmatic?

Tomorrow, May 22, as the personal testimony of Chief Justice Renato Corona begins at the Senate impeachment court, it also happens to be---in what may be termed happy serendipity---the feast of Sta. Rita de Cascia.  It’s serendipitous because this saint, who lived in the late 14th century in Cascia, Italy, about 150 kms. north of Rome, is also known as the “Advocate of the Impossible.” And a lot of miracles have been attributed to her intercession, including some spectacular cancer cures.

Now, virtually all the political pundits have said that CJ Corona is up against the entire machinery of government, as President Aquino has made it his primary "reform agenda" to oust CJ from office.  And because of this, stacked up against CJ are frightening odds.

But given all the praying that CJ, his family and his myriad supporters across the country---especially the various units in the judiciary which have been solid in his support---as well as all his “prayer warriors” have been doing in the past six months, CJ might just have won over Sta. Rita, among other heavenly patrons, to his side.  The "Advocate of the Impossible" might just pull the miracle of an acquittal for him.


A friend of mine has attended most of the masses celebrated at the SC compound by various members of the clergy who are also supporters of CJ. One of the more constant celebrants is Fr. Dave Clay of the Columban Fathers, and earlier today it was outspoken Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles.

Recently this regular mass-goer told me how impressed he is with the supernatural faith of CJ and his wife Cristina through all the incredible trials and tribulations they have undergone since last November. He noted how calm and serene the Coronas have remained in the face of perhaps the most  vociferous personal attacks in the media in recent times; he opined that this can only come from their deep abiding faith in God. As CJ put it to media recently, “I have put my entire life in the hands of God. I know He is in control.” 

The Chief Justice and his family have also won a lot of admiration for the dignity with which they have carried themselves despite all these tirades especially toward CJ from the President of the Republic.  


Politicians close to P-Noy have pooh-poohed reports that the powerful Iglesia ni Cristo is moving for acquittal of CJ by the senators.  But the fact that the President went to the INC central headquarters this morning to talk to its officials on the eve of CJ’s Senate testimony means that there’s a lot of uncertainty about the trial’s outcome and how INC’s reported support for CJ could spell the difference.

But there’s also talk that administration and ruling party leaders have quietly tried to minimize the impact of a potential loss of support from the INC especially for senatorial re-electionists who won’t vote for Corona. Reports say these leaders stress to the senators that even if they were to lose the INC vote, the PCOS machines can make up for it. Papapanalunin naming kayo through the PCOS machines, so the stalwarts reportedly tell the senators.

Is this the reason why Comelec is fighting tooth and nail the petition filed before the SC by the Tanggulang Demokrasya and other civic organizations to void the contract between Comelec and Smartmatic?


Like many citizens I was shocked to realize, after the dizzying power-point presentation of OMB Conchita Carpio Morales at the Senate impeachment court, that her data on the alleged dollar bank accounts of Corona were a mere hodge-podge of unsigned, unverified information from the AMLC. What OMB did was to hype her PPP with the help of COA deputy chair Heidi Mendoza’s team, to make it look like CJ has innumerable bank accounts with  unending deposits and withdrawals by CJ. But these turned out to be based on raw intelligence data culled by AMLC, with the help of lousy accounting hocus-pocus from COA. 

It was sheer irresponsibility on the part of Morales to present these totally raw and unverified data in a formal and official impeachment court against the highest magistrate. In fact one cannot imagine this sort of thing happening in an impeachment trial in the US Senate. Thus, if a lawsuit would be filed by some citizens against OMB or even an impeachment proceeding, to test the constitutionality of her resort to power, it would be only proper; and the AMLC has to share the blame. 

The office of the Ombudsman and the AMLC have clearly been used as weapons of destruction against enemies of this administration.  As Philippine Savings Bank president Pascual Garcia had testified two months ago, the AMLC had begun looking into CJ’s bank documents as early as September 2010.  On the other hand, Morales admitted doing the same as early as last Feb. 19, after the scripted filing of complaints without basis by some civic groups.


Following is an email received from a reader:

“I read your 15th May online column and I really do not know how the senator-judges will treat the 17-page report brandished by the OMB---but from my end, I think it was pure kuryente. If news reports say that the document had a cover letter with a warning that its contents were primarily for intelligence purposes only, then the AMLC has NOT determined the accuracy of the information as well as the reliability of its source.  

“This is a standard intelligence requirement in the military or law enforcement service. Such data CANNOT be used for judicial proceedings at this stage. Obviously, the report only contained investigative LEADS which the OMB should have prudently used to painstakingly develop hard facts--- instead of presenting it openly and publicly to the Impeachment Court. This is precisely why such a sensitive piece of information was UNSIGNED by AMLC Executive Director Vicente Aquino, who also personally took pains to hand-carry it SAFEHAND to the OMB.

“This episode only confirms one thing: the OMB despite her more than 40 years of legal practice, is not wise to the ways of the world's second oldest profession.”


As any military personnel will tell us, any intelligence data need to be checked and re-checked first before being used, as the reader stated above. The question is, was OMB Morales just being naïve and taken for a ride by AMLC’s Aquino on the unverified data he submitted to her, or was there malicious intent on her part to destroy the reputation of CJ by confusing the citizenry with unverified allegations in her PPP?

Incidentally, why isn’t AMLC Executive Director Aquino responding to public complaint about those raw data he submitted to OMB Morales, which became the basis for her allegation that CJ has 82 accounts in five banks? Why is Aquino now making Insurance Commissioner Emmanuel Dooc, who is one of the three members of the AMLC Board, attest to those supposed AMLC data?  Is Commissioner Dooc now being made the fall guy?

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