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.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

P-Noy is not afraid of impeachment, as he controls both chambers of Congress. But it should still be challenging for the tiny opposition or the gutsier leftist groups in the House if they file that impeachment---even if it won’t prosper. Corona defense lawyer Judd Roy back to his pugnacious self after his contrite apology to senators during the trial---asserting now that P-Noy violated provision of the Revised Penal Code on direct and indirect bribery and corruption of public officials.

Sen. Bong Revilla
Last Monday in his privilege speech at the Senate, Sen. Bong Revilla did not manage to clear his name in the PDAF scam one bit despite his father’s tears. The people still believe he abused his PDAF by channeling it to fake NGos.  But what Revilla achieved was to damage President Aquino’s “Daang Matuwid” so gravely with his revelation about his meeting with P-Noy, Mar Roxas and Butch Abad in Bahay Pangarap at the height of the Corona impeachment trial in 2012.

Coming as Revilla’s expose did in the wake of Sen. Jinggoy Estrada’s revelation---eventually confirmed by Sen. Panfilo Lacson---months back about the multi-million Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) package given to some 20 senators in varying amounts---from P50 million for most of them to P100 million for the Finance committee Chief Franklin Drilon to P90 million to then Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile---Revilla’s revelation about his hijacking was instantly and totally credible.  

So much so that the President himself and his cohorts were later forced not only to admit that meeting, but they had to name other senators who were likewise invited to rendezvous with P-Noy. The Filipino people are now waiting for those senators to explain P-Noy’s explanation about them.


It is, however, the explanation of the rationale for those meetings with the senators that takes the cake. Palace Communications Chief Sonny Coloma was quoted as saying that P-Noy’s aim in his historic tete-a-tete with the senators was his desire “to verify persistent rumors” that they were being pressured by interest groups to influence the outcome of the Corona impeachment trial. Coloma said the President only asked that the senator from Cavite and presumably the other invitees to decide the Corona case “on the basis of its merits.”  


Talagang ginagago ni Coloma ang taong bayan. In the first place, why did DILG Secretary Mar Roxas go through a cloak-and-dagger scenario to bring Revilla to Bahay Pangarap if the Palace group didn’t have what Lyceum Law Dean Ma. Soledad Mawis termed a “sense of impropriety” about what they were doing.   How citizens wish the other senators similarly invited could also spill the beans.

Then too, who but the Palace would have the resources to do any influencing of the senators.  Recall how Malacanang marshaled all the agencies of government to nail down CJ Corona---from the “45 properties” listed and fully publicized with shocking carelessness by the Land Registration Authority headed by Eulalio Diaz, a classmate of P-Noy at the Ateneo, to the DOJ, to an appointee of P-Noy at the Supreme Court and the coiffed Ombudsman who enjoyed counting every dollar deposit of Corona as a new account, and even the BSP.  And yes, prosecution team leader Niel Tupas whose PDAF shenanigans are being glossed over by the DOJ-COA-Ombudsman team.

The only real pressure group one can think of as pro-Corona was the Iglesia ni Cristo, but even that P-Noy didn’t let go of. Recall how he personally dropped by the INC headquarters one morning to talk to its supremo. In the end the INC clout was neutralized as the senators, elected at large, lost their fear of this powerful sect and believed instead in the infinite power of the PCOS.


Those in media who followed the Corona trial distinctly remember that rainy evening during the one-month break in the trial, when the Chief Justice’s team of lawyers gathered at Club Filipino to denounce what was being wildly rumored---a payola of P100 million for each senator for a conviction vote. At that point I thought it was just a trick of the defense lawyers to win public sympathy and attention---the payola amount being cited seemed just incredible. No one had any idea of the DAP at that point.  

When the Corona trial resumed, the senators were quite angry and they demanded a public apology from the defense, the threat of disbarment palpable in the air. Lawyer Judd Roy, normally pugnacious as a bulldog, was tasked to deliver that speech and he was uncharacteristically subdued and even truly contrite. Parang natuka ng ahas si Roy, which mollified the senators and the trial went on.  


Atty. Judd Roy
After Monday’s expose by Sen. Revilla, however, Judd Roy was back to his old pugnacious self. “If you can impeach some guy for not filing in his SALN completely, you can surely impeach someone for trying to distort the outcome of the case, improperly,” he said over a morning TV program. Roy rightly stressed that it’s okay for the President to lobby with legislators about programs, BUT NOT WITH SENATOR-JUDGES.”

Speaking in the present tense, Corona’s lawyer asserted that the President can go out and talk about the impeachment case publicly, but if he wants to say something to the Senate Court he should enter his appearance and testify if he wants “But never never talk to the judges, even if they are your partymates,” he stressed.


Roy asserts that the President “violated provisions of the Revised Penal Code on direct bribery, indirect bribery and corruption of public officials.” This point will be debated by lawyers on both sides of the fence, and how citizens wish more of them would weigh in on this issue, for the enlightenment of the public. What about the IBP, the Philconsa, the PBA?

For instance, Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago asserts that the President did not violate anything in meeting with Sen. Revilla at the height of the Corona trial, but she tried to make amends with this unenlightening remark by saying that P-Noy opens himself to impeachment with what took place.

The President, on the other hand, grabbed the bull by the horns when he said that he’s ready for impeachment; in fact he challenged those lusting after that process for him to file it. One can see where his braggadocio is coming from---he controls both chambers of Congress. But it should still be challenging to anyone in the opposition or among the more gutsy leftist groups to file an impeachment complaint in the House---even if it won’t prosper. If that happens, at least for the record, there would be those brave enough to foist a trial balloon.

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