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.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Corona’s unconditional waiver challenge regarded as his “defining moment” and “legacy move.” Citizens say: officials who don’t want to sign, resign! Anthony Taberna: 'Ginoong Pangulo, heto ang ballpen. Pirma na kayo.' Sen. Chiz: “I need condolences, not congratulations.” Chiz feeling remorse about his convict vote?

Last Wednesday in the Senate---the day after it voted to convict Chief Justice Renato Corona on betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the Constitution---instead of the expected air of rejoicing over the spectacular “landslide” victory by the President's allies, there was a palpable pall of gloom hanging over its premises. A staffer of a senator ran into Sen. Francis Escudero and congratulated him on this victorious vote, but Chiz retorted, to the surprise of those who heard him, “Don’t congratulate me. I need your condolences.” Did this indicate that Chiz is feeling remorseful over his convict vote?  What about the others? 
Later that day, at the confirmation hearing of the Commission on Appointments,  Escudero, who chairs the CA's committee on foreign relations, gave Ambassador Nestor Padalhin, our nominated ambassador to Syria, a good dressing down over his failure to include in his SALN a three-bedroom residential apartment in the US. The envoy reasoned that he didn’t think he ought to include it as it was not yet fully paid. Bellowed Escudero, “Don’t give us that line---after we just convicted the Chief Justice for his failure to disclose his assets in his SALN!”
According to the reports, Sen. Loren Legarda, chair of the Senate foreign relations committee and a member of that CA committee, pointed out that the envoy’s failure to disclose his property was done “an honest mistake." Legarda was also quoted as saying that "The lessons of the past 42 days (of the impeachment trial) tells us that a lot should be corrected" and that this should not be an impediment to the ambassador's confirmation by the CA.
I found this exchange quite interesting, since the day before, the "Sanctimonious 20" senators, including Legarda and Escudero, had ganged up on CJ and gave him absolutely no quarter on having acted in good faith in not declaring his dollar accounts---as he relied on the ABSOLUTE CONFIDENTIALITY guaranteed by the Foreign Currency Deposits Act. Moreover, the senators also gave CJ no allowance TO RECTIFY HIS ERROR, if error it was, as the law on SALN provides. 

The “Sanctimonious 20” simply ruled that Corona lied and cheated, when the fact is that the FCDA law that he invoked for his protection was crafted and passed by Congress. Clearly they were invoking two sets of standards here---one for the ambassador to Syria and another for the enemy of P-Noy, CJ Corona.

As a commentator put it, "CJ was prosecuted by the people who created this defective law which he relied on in good faith. Instead of amending the law to correct the solons' mistake, they put the blame on the person who relied on it. They chose to convict instead of amending the law." 
In the Senate session later that day, Escudero delivered a rather emotional sponsorship speech on his “Waiver” bill, where he challenged the entire Aquino officialdom to accept the dare of CJ Corona to sign their own waivers to hidden accounts.

This challenge, made unconditionally last Friday in Corona’s second appearance at the trial, has been called by commentators his “waiver legacy” and the “defining moment” of his Senate testimony.  And indeed it is. For even though he was convicted and removed from office, his waiver challenge now rages all across the country and citizens high and low---including bishops, civil society, academics and even the PNP personnel---are clamoring for it.
ABS-CBN commentator Anthony Taberna rightly pointed out that while Palace officials and House allies were one in saying it was CJ Corona who was on trial and not the President nor the House prosecutors, NOW THAT LINE CAN NO LONGER BE INVOKED.  The entire officialdom is on trial, noted Taberna, adding “Ginoong Pangulo, heto po ang ballpen. Pirma na kayo.” He stressed that “Hindi na tatanggapin ng bayan ang palusot nila.”

The Supreme Court, convened en banc for the first time by Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio, ruled that all the SALNs of the SC justices be made public henceforth, discarding a 23-year old memorandum to the contrary. In the House a number of members have agreed to do so, including representatives from Cebu. But in the Senate, so far only three senators have said they will comply (the two Cayetanos and Escudero); from the rest it’s silence, prompting naughty observers to muse that maybe these senators have even larger dollar accounts than Corona.
From the Palace and the Cabinet, there’s only refusal so far, with spokesperson Abigail Valte saying President Noynoy is not ready at the moment to sign. But it has been more than two years since he promised on the 2010 presidential campaign  trail that he would bare his SALN once elected. Now citizens are on his back, saying, “P-Noy, if you don’t want to sign, mag-resign ka na! 

Those who refuse to sign---and they include Corona's accusers---will be regarded as the ones with something to hide, NAGPAPALUSOT.

Part of the behind-the-scenes stories about the impeachment trial of CJ Corona is about the tremendous pressures brought to bear on the senators in the final countdown last Tuesday by the Palace and its allies. As this blog had stated earlier, one of the most pressured was Sen. Bongbong Marcos whom the Palace needed to add his gravitas to the “Sanctimonious 20.”
 A key staffer of Sen. Marcos got a call from no less than former President Joseph Estrada, asking if the staffer could talk to his boss about voting with the decided majority. He demurred, saying he wouldn’t presume to do that. The young Marcos’ scion’s steady hand on the keel---obviously born out of conviction and not worn on his sleeve as so many of his colleagues had done---has gained him a lot of admirers even among anti-FM folks. As a noted commentator put it, “Bongbong is redeeming his father.”
In an impeachment trial studded with ironies, one of the more interesting is that Bongbong has become quite close now to Sen. Joker Arroyo, a staunch  oppositionist during the martial law regime, but now his colleague in the “Courageous 3” (their closeness may be due to the fact that from the beginning there were just a few of them).  Observers note that over the five months of trial Joker has become like a second father to Bongbong. 

I had earlier stated here that had the senators depended only on legal arguments, they should have acquitted Corona, but the fact was that they had as many other reasons for convicting him as there were votes. It was all I-scratch-your-back, I- scratch-yours.
For instance, Sen. Manny Villar’s wife, Cynthia, is said to be running for the Senate under the LP banner next year. Manny’s vote for conviction broke many hearts, for the popular opinion is that with his immense wealth to back up his wife he should have the ability to stand up to Malacanang.  

Then too, Sen. Lito Lapid, who used to be a staunch Lakas and  who owed so many favors from former President GMA, couldn’t have voted acquittal as his wife was caught a few months back smuggling $40,000 into the US;  right now government officials are helping her in that case. Moreover, that smuggle was merely the tip of the vast Lapid fortune and the Aquino administration is said to have the entire dossier on it.  
On the other hand, Sen. Kiko Pangilinan, whose term expires next year, is said to be angling for a position in this administration. By the way, Mr. Sharon Cuneta’s speech at the voting is a run-away as the most horrid---a low-level personal attack against CJ all the way, even calling for his disbarment. Attacking ad hominem someone who’s already down is a no-no in Filipino culture---and perhaps in civilized societies around the world.  Contrast Kiko’s attacks with the high-plane legal justifications by Sen. Koko Pimentel and even Franklin Drilon for their convict vote.


  1. WOOOO!!!! u ROCK Ms. Cunanan!

  2. i don't know. but everytime i read this column, i feel like throwing up. is it the faulty reasoning (if any reason was advanced) or is it the amoral take on the issue blinded by "friendship"? nevertheless, i think he or she is no friend who instead of giving a person a sound advice and pointing out his mistakes, lead him instead to believe that he is perfectly doing the right thing when it is bright as day that he is doing the contrary.

    P.S., i am not a paid opinion writer of malacanan

    1. you should seriously think about applying to malacanang. good drivel like yours deserves to be paid. seriously, you have a calling as a hack..

    2. Agreeing or disagreeing with the writer's opinions is entirely your problem, hot hers. She has hers and you have yours. But making an unsavory remarks such as "you feel like trowing up or faulty reasoning (if any reason was advanced) or is it the amoral take on the issue blinded by "friendship" is to me an UNCIVILIZED manner. If you disagree with her opinions, then don't read them so that you will not "throw up". As simple as that. And whether your are a paid opinion writer of Malacanang or not is, maybe, the writer's least concern. I don't speak for her. It's just a hunch.

  3. Reposting an excerpt from a Press Release from then Presidential Candidate Benigno Simeon Aquino III during the 2010 Presidential election campaign:

    Press Release
    February 24, 2010
    Aquino will waive right to bank secrecy

    Liberal Party standard bearer, Senator Benigno "Noynoy" S. Aquino III, said Tuesday he will waive his rights under the Bank Secrecy Law to set an example for others in his administration if elected president.

    "I am willing if necessary (to waive my rights under the Bank Secrecy Law)...but I will not presume for others who will join government," he said in the Second Integrity and Human Rights Conference at Hotel Intercontinental Manila.

    Your Excellency, yan po ang pangako nyo when you were campaigning. Pero mukhang nagka amnesia ka yata? Nakalimutan mo na ba ito?


    “Let’s go back to the context,” Valte said. “It was the accused [Corona] who issued the challenge to every Tom, Dick and Harry who was willing to take on his dare. Is it fair to put the President, who has not been accused of graft, who has not been accused of dishonesty, in the same category as the man who was just removed from his post?”

    Ms. Valte, this is not a question of who is the accuse and who is not. This is a question of moral transparency being asked by the people on the highest official of the Republic of the Philippines - The President. After all, it was President Aquino's campaign promise to lead a transparent government.

    Why don't you rise to the challenge President Aquino para malaman ng tao na hindi ka lang puro salita. At upang mapatunayan mong may transparency sa iyong gobyerno, at hindi political ang ginawang pagpapatalsik kay exCJ Corona kundi isang judicial process na naaayon sa iyong programang good governance.

    Kung wala kang itinatago, bakit hindi ka pumirma?


    Kung sinasabi nilang sinungaling si CJ Corona, mas sinungaling itong si MANNY VILLAR. During the 2010 Presidential campaign sinabi ni Villar na dahil sa kahirapan ng kanyang pamilya, nagtinda siya ng hipon sa palengke just to make both ends meet. Sinabi din niya na kaya namatay yung isa niyang kapatid ay dahil wala silang pambayad sa ospital at pambili ng gamot. But it turned out na panay kasinungalingan ang kanyang pinagsasabi. Si Villar ay nag aral sa Paco Catholic School isang exclusive school. Hindi din totoong namatay ang kanyang kapatid dahil wala silang pambili ng gamot. Namatay ang kanyang kapatid dahil sa sakit na leukemia at namatay ito sa FEU Hospital, isang pribadong ospital. Yan ba ang isang kahig-isang tuka? Yan ba ang definition ni Villar ng pagiging poor? Pati yung nanay nya at mga kapatid ginamit to bolster his Presidential ambition pero walang kumagat sa mga gimik niya. ‘Wag din sana siya magmalinis kasi nabuking ang double insertion niya ng P200 million sa road projects na inilihis sa original plan upang mahagip ang mga subdivision niya sa Las Pinas. Siyempre pag may access road, tataas ang value ng lupa ‘diba?


  4. And now it is our turn to hold them all to task... http://www.picbadges.com/sign-or-resign/2596515/