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, June 3, 2012

Drivers of some House members kept engines of their expensive cars running the entire time during impeachment hours. De Lima and Henares would be divisive as SC Chief Justice. Waiver campaign gathers tremendous momentum as El Shaddai makes waiver-signing basis for support for candidates

Sunday, June 03, 2012

This writer had attended nearly all of the over 42 trial days at the Senate, in an effort to understand all the facts about the impeachment trial of CJ Renato Corona, and not depend merely on the biased tri-media. Recently, after the trial was over, I overheard my driver recounting to my household stafff some observations he got from what was happening outside the Senate building in those many days when he would drive me to and from the trial.

One detail that stood out as far as he was concerned was his shock at seeing how some drivers of members of Congress, who were parked outside the Senate with him, had the habit of running the engines of the solons’ SUVs THE ENTIRE TIME that their masters were inside the session hall, attending the  trial.

This meant easily at least four or five hours each day---from before 2pm. to at times 6 or 7 pm. Obviously the congressmen’s drivers kept their engines running to keep the cars cool for their masters. But needless to say, the drivers too enjoyed this perk especially in those many months of waiting in the hot afternoons.


In computing the financial cost to the prosecution of the impeachment trial of about P5.7 million, did Tupas et al factor in all the gasoline from numerous high-powered SUVs  running for easily five hours straight for 45 days? This abuse of gasoline paid for by people's taxes may be a small thing against the backdrop of Their Honors’ PDAFs running into billions from Congress---after all, gas is only a very finite resource of Mother Earth. But it’s still a symbol of the corruption that these House members sought to fight ---with a lot of sanctimoniousness---in the case vs. CJ Corona.


Various members of Congress have gone on record as advising President Aquino to place a premium on independence and integrity as the prime qualification of the candidates for the vacated post of Chief Justice. P-Noy, in a recent interview, proudly mentioned two of the candidates, deemed by media as the “leading” ones---Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and BIR Chief Kim Henares.

P-Noy extolled these two female officials as the “most feared” among the contenders. That he would zero in on this  qualification of being the “most feared” as the two officials’ prime asset indicates that he needs to sustain this quality---especially after the most virulent and ferocious attacks to which Corona and his family were subjected in the impeachment trial.

But this also indicates that P-Noy may not be looking first and foremost for integrity and independence in his hand-picked CJ, but the need for the new SC Chief to be dog-loyal to him.

What would this speak of the independence of the SC?


Unfortunately, the two female officials are also deemed by many observers as among the most arrogant officials around;  and had Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales not retired from the Supreme Court in early 2011 upon reaching 70, it would really be a toss-up among the three as to who is by popular belief the most arrogant among them.

Sadly for the High Court, however, being the most feared is not necessarily the best qualification to head it. BIR Chief Henares exudes this arrogance in her perpetual smirk as she seems to have fun scaring the daylight out of businessmen and doctors who don’t issue proper receipts, etc. But De Lima’s arrogance is more disturbing as it’s also intertwined with her penchant for twisting interpretations of the law to her own liking.


I saw a good deal of this when De Lima defended before the SC her TRO of the Arroyos when they sought leave for medical treatment of GMA abroad. De Lima's insistence on the police powers of the DOJ’s Circular 41 as the basis of her watch-list order on the Arroyos---and that this circular is higher than the citizen’s right to travel clause under the Constitution---shocked the justices, including then Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, now considered the chief contender for CJ.

In those hearings at SC Associate Justice Teresita de Castro demanded to see the law “that allows private rights to be curtailed by police power.” You have to cite specific laws that provide such guidelines, so that you will not go beyond them, De Castro lectured to De Lima.

The DOJ Secretary says she would accept the CJ’s post if offered to her. But one can see the havoc which De Lima---as well as Henares---could wreak in the SC if either of them were appointed CJ. They would be extremely divisive in the court, as magistrates with far older experience in the law and stubborn as mules would predictably fight their distorted interpretations of the law.


Sharp focus is now being cast on the promise made by LP standard-bearer Benigno Aquino in 2010 to waive his right to bank secrecy if elected president---in order to set an example for others in his administration. Leadership by example.

Recall that after signing the waiver to his own bank accounts in his second appearance at the Senate Court, CJ Corona then hurled this challenge to Sen. Franklin Drilon and the House 188 to do the same, in the interest of transparency and good governance. Corona's challenge went unheeded by the solons who obviously had many things of their own to hide;  but now, with his ouster, his challenge has gathered incredible momentum. I believe THERE’S NO STOPPING IT FROM HEREON.

Various organizations, three senators, several district and party-list reps, the House minority led by Minority Leader Danilo Suarez, the PNP hierarchy and personnel and Mike Velarde’s El Shaddai, as well as many in the media, are now pushing the waiver campaign forward---despite continued stone-walling by P-Noy, the senators and the House 188.

The battle-cry is Sign or Resign. Kung walang itinatago, pumirma!


A regular reader of this blog who answers to the name “rexyboy56” recalls Noynoy’s promise “to waive my rights under the Bank Secrecy Law” on Feb. 24, 2010 at the Second Integrity and Human Rights Conference at Hotel Intercontinental. Says rexyboy56, “Your Excellency, bakit po mukhang nagka-amnesia na yata kayo? Nakalimutan mo na ba ito?”

The reader quotes from Undersecretary Abigail Valte, who recently 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?”

But rexyboy56 reminds Valte: “This is not a question of who is the accused and who is not. This is a question of moral transparency being asked by the people of the highest official of the Republic- -the President. After all, it was Aquino's campaign promise to lead a transparent government."

Addressing P-Noy directly, the reader exhorts him: “Why don't you rise to the challenge, para malaman ng tao na hindi ka lang puro salita. At upang mapatunayan mong may transparency sa iyong gobyerno, at hindi political ang ginawang pagpatalsik kay ex-CJ Corona, kundi isang judicial process na naaayon sa iyong programang good governance?” rexyboy56 then adds: “Kung wala kang itinatago, bakit hindi ka pumirma?”

Oo nga naman, Ginoong Pangulo. Pirma ka na para sumunod lahat sa inyo.


  1. I really admire Sec. Leila De Lima for her honesty and truthfulness when she said that the next Chief Justice should possess COMPETENCE, INTEGRITY and HIGH SENSE of INDEPENDENCE all of which she doesn't have!

  2. Quote from Usec Abigail Valte:

    “Attorney Roy is making me laugh on a Sunday.”
    This was Usec Valte’s remarks when one of exCJ Renato Corona’s lawyers, Atty. Jose Judd Roy III said that the former Chief Magistrate had set a new standard for transparency when he signed a waiver on his bank accounts during his impeachment trial.
    Ms. Valte also said that Corona’s signing of a conditional waiver only allowed the opening of his local deposits and not the foreign deposits.
    The former Chief Justice was ridiculed and scoffed at when he hurled the challenge to Sen. Franklin Drilon and the 188 “pork-barrel-greedy” Congressmen to sign a similar waiver for the sake of transparency.
    In his second appearance at the Senate Impeachment Court, exCJ Renato Corona signed an unconditional waiver for opening of his Peso and US$ accounts. His tormentors and persecutors described his move as delaying tactics.
    But when judgment day came, Sen. Chiz Escudero, before rendering his guilty verdict challenged all government officials, from the President down to the lowest government employee to sign a similar waiver for the sake of transparency. Sen. Allan Cayetano, challenged the President and all his Cabinet men to sign a similar waiver also for the sake of transparency. “Sign or resign,” was Sen. Cayetano’s challenge to the President and his Cabinet.
    But it seems that you have a short memory Ms. Valte. Allow me to refresh it. If you will recall, {i'm sure you do because you were one of the media operators and speech writers of Noynoy then] during the campaign trail in 2010, then Liberal Party presidential and vice presidential candidates Benigno Aquino III and Mar Roxas, respectively, boldly proclaimed they would sign a waiver authorizing full disclosure of their bank accounts should they be elected into office. Said Roxas: “This is in line with the advocacy of Noynoy Aquino and myself for honest and clean governance … I will propose to Noynoy that this be made to apply to him and to all Cabinet secretaries.” And on Feb. 24, 2010 at the Second Integrity and Human Rights Conference at Hotel Intercontinental, Noynoy promised “to waive my rights under the Bank Secrecy Law”
    Ms. Valte, whether you admit it or not, that conditional waiver signed by exCJ Renato Corona before he was convicted, served as an eye opener. Two Senators, Chiz Escudero and Allan Peter Cayetano finally realized that RA 6426 and RA 1405 need amendments so as not to be abused in the future. The challenge hurled by ex CJ Corona to Sen. Drilon and the 188 Congressmen to sign a similar waiver and the challenge made by Sen. Allan Peter Cayetano to your Boss is slowly gaining support. The battle cry now is “Sign or Resign!”
    Don’t make that silly excuse that your Boss is not obliged to sign a waiver because he is not the accused. That is unacceptable. Rephrasing what Sen. Koko Pimentel III said: “Ang batas para kay Juan ay batas din para kay Benigno III.”
    By the way Ms. Valte, in case you are not aware of it, the Judicial and Bar Council recently added as one of the requirements for all SC nominess to sign a waiver on their bank accounts. That is, according to JBC, for the sake of transparency.
    Sino ngayon ang katawatawa, Ms. Valte? Si Atty. Jose Judd Roy ba o ikaw?
    Atty. Roy was right when he said that Corona had set a new standard for transparency when he signed a waiver on his bank accounts.
    Again Ms. valte, kung walang itinatago ang Boss mo, hindi siya dapat matakot na pumirma.