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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

"Ano Ba Talaga, CJ?"

I've been meaning to ask that aloud ever since Chief Justice (CJ) Renato Corona's trial began.

(Courtesy of loqal.ph)

I'm confused with everything that Corona has said/done. His impeachment trial has necessitated him to sprout off statements or do things in defense of himself, which, unwittingly leave more questions than answers in their wake.

This is a collection of the inconsistencies I have heard - so far - from his interviews, statements, news reports, following the trial, and now that the trial is on break, his reactions to journalist Raissa Robles' investigations and questions from other media outfits.

He says he has not done anything to be ashamed of, but promptly withdraws millions in the bank the day his impeachment became official.

He says the millions he withdrew were from his wife's company, but they were deposited in his personal account.

Any employee found keeping company money in a personal account would be fired, no questions asked, and a defense of "I'm just safekeeping it" would be met with contempt and disbelief on top of outright laughter. The CJ keeps the money of a company he has - supposedly - no ties with, and on record, is not a part of (BGEI), but rationalizes that it is "in trust" and "for safekeeping". (Are we saying that any ordinary company employee is expected to be held up to a higher ethical standard than the Chief Justice of an entire country?)

He says the reason he withdrew them was because he lost trust in the bank, but he promptly deposited the money he withdrew - again, at the same bank.

He says he will submit to the impeachment trial, then asks his lawyers to try their best to have the trial nullified and the proceedings thrown out.

He says he will reveal all "in due time". His lawyers proceed to throw every possible legal impediment to prevent records from being scrutinized.

He says he has honestly completed his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN). If not for this trial, we would not have known that - by his own admission - he has dollar accounts he did not declare. We would also never have known how lucrative it is to work in the judiciary with multiple Christmas "bonuses", various allowances and multiple expense accounts, none of which were declared in the SALN.

When confronted about why he never included all these "earnings" and "assets" in his SALN, his lawyers reply that there is no specific rule to say what items to fill up, or that these are not taxable and there is no need to disclose them, or that the rules are shifting all the time, or that...I can't continue, I'm not that crafty in coming up with the reasons they gave, and it rails against my personal code to mouth off their brand of "lawyering".

The SALN requires a public official to declare all bank instruments and investments. One of his lawyers believes it is not a requirement to declare a bank account. (?!?)

He refuses to stand in the impeachment trial to make official statements -he will supposedly be "ridiculed" - but goes on a media blitz to air his side.

He decries Pres. Aquino for taking his fight against corruption to the bar of public opiion. He then goes to TV stations, radio programs and everywhere else to convince the public he is beyond reproach.

He says he supports the rule of law. Depending on which property of his we are discussing, the rule of law could be upon receipt of title, upon acceptance pending fixing of damages, upon being bought from various relatives but still holding on to the title, and so on.

He accuses the President of polarizing the judiciary. He responds by holding masses in the SC, having SC people wear red to "support" his "crusade". (Of course, he says people do this on their own volition. As one commenter noted, imagine if any member of the army or any executive wears a yellow ribbon of their own volition, Corona and his supporters would have a field day calling him a dictator, but when the judiciary does it, it is called "freedom of expression".)

He says he has nothing to do with BGEI. He hides, I mean "safekeeps", BGEI money in his personal account.

He says he holds BGEI money "in trust". The account he places this in is a personal account, where the law requires you to declare an account to be In Trust specifically in the account name.

The law also requires all accounts held in trust to be declared in the SALN. Since he claims that the millions in contention were held in trust, they still should have been declared. He did not.

He says "101%" his family doesn't own properties in the US. The next day, he reveals his daughter bought a property "dirt cheap". He also says the "we" in "we don't own property" is his wife and him, it excludes the children.

He says he has no interest in BGEI and its affairs as it is an internal family squabble of his wife's family. Former Manila mayor Lito Atienza revealed that CJ was with Cristina (his wife) when they were negotiating the sale of the BGEI property to the city.

Bloggers like Raissa Robles have been asking for interviews with him. He then invites "other" bloggers to the SC itself to a sit-down dinner.

He says the SC is a collegial body, each member getting one vote only. He also says all that is standing between PNoy and the Hacienda Luisita ruling is him alone.

He says the rule of law is supreme. Apparently, when his own Supreme Court ruled three times "with finality", it means "until someone changes my mind again" - see the FASAP case.

He thinks he is beyond reproach. He then proceeds to sit in his position while the Senate is investigating the charges against him, and meddles with decisions that are referred to the SC, decisions that have bearing on the case itself. (Think US$ deposits.) In effect, he has a say to parts of his investigation, where he actually interferes with the Senate's attempts to ferret out the truth.

He says he has nothing to lose. He has not revealed his dollar accounts.

Our Constitution defines what is required of someone working in the judiciary - let's not even delve into what we expect from the head of the judiciary. His lawyers, in effect, are saying that it is unfair to hold him to a higher standard and must be accorded the same expectations we would a "normal" person, and even a common criminal - astonishingly innocent until proven hideously guilty beyond every shadow of every doubt.

He says he bows down to the Constitution. He accepted an illegal appointment to his current position, in direct opposition to the Constitution he claims to revere.

I know I missed a lot more "Huh?!?" moments, but this is a good start. (I'm not even including his supposed "jazzing up" of his resume - claiming to be an honor student all throughout when he was not - or the fact that some of his batchmates from his schools are denouncing him already.)

When I started writing this post, I initially only had 3 to 4 inconsistencies in mind. But as I wrote, my memory got refreshed with statements made that were tangent to the ones I had in mind. As I sit here reviewing this list, one thing dawned on me: Has he EVER been consistent?

Consistently inconsistent is more like it.

And we should ask ourselves: How can we trust someone to be our Chief Justice when he seems to revel and excel in not meaning what he says? Is this someone you want to pin your hopes on to attain justice, objectivity and fairness? (Again, let's leave out "expecting the highest level of ethical behavior" - anyone who thinks holding some company's money in a personal account and not declare it as "In Trust" in writing or in his SALN as perfectly acceptable doesn't even deserve to be mentioned where matters of ethics are concerned.)

Given his predilection to be inconsistent, it comes as little surprise to me why former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo would champion him to be appointed as Chief Justice.

(Courtesy of judiciary.gov.ph)

Do we want someone like this to be the final arbiter of all our laws?

17 comments:

  1. wow!!! great list

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  2. And thank you for reminding us all of these. Sometimes I get frustrated when thinking about how deeply the corruption is rooted in our culture but what's happening now gives me a ray of light. A signal of hope that if the people stands up for truth, for morality, there might be a bright future generations ahead. Guys like you and Miss Raissa should keep up the good work and be a candle in this journey. Kudos!

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    1. As Raissa has said, sama sama tayo. We have come to the point where journalists who do their job are accused of being paid hacks and citizens who want the truth revealed are accused of being zombies. That same side saying all these have as lawyers ones who think that bank accounts are not to be declared in a public official's SALN. Their kind of lawyers also think that one can place 34 Million in a personal bank account - even in trust - without declaring this in the account name or the Saln and this there is nothing highy irregular about it.

      I blame my parents for giving me my values. I also thank them profusely. :)

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  3. Corona categorically denied he keeps bank accounts with huge deposits not declared in his SALN. read full text of corona's reply to the impeachment complaint vs him

    http://www.rappler.com/nation/570-full-text-of-corona-s-reply-to-the-impeachment-complaint-vs-him

    10. In pars. 2.3 and 2.4, Complainants suspect and accuse CJ Corona of betrayal of public trust because he allegedly accumulated ill-gotten wealth, acquired high-value assets, and kept bank accounts with huge deposits, not declared in his SALN.

    11. The allegations are conjectural and speculative. They do not amount to a concrete statement of fact that might require a denial. Accusations in general terms such as these have no place in pleadings, as they bring only hearsay and rumor into the body of evidence involved.
    At any rate, the allegations are flatly denied.

    at any rate = in any case, whatever the case may be
    flatly = absolutely, categorically, definitely, 101%

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    1. I would advise him and his lawyers to view a TED talk by Pamela Meyers, author of Liespotting, if I remember correctly, that 20 minute talk is entitled How To Spot A Liar.

      Interestingly enough, when she listed what an honest person would do if they were accused of doing something s/he didn't commit, it highlighted that what Corona has both been doing and not doing are the opposites of what an onest person would have and have not done. *honest, not onest

      And as I mentioned before, just because one does what is legal does ot make it right. *not, not ot

      Those of us who see Corona as unfit are judging him on the basis of ethical considerations, which we also presume to be higher and more important than legal ones. There is a reason why people talk about Buddha and Gandhi in high terms, while I have never heard anyone claim someone to be the "best lawyer" - a search for that would cause all lawyers to state their case and argue with each other, which would result in millenia of debates.

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  4. he wants to gain public sympathy, and he knows media statements are not admissible in court. He is counting on sympathy from those who don't really follow the case carefully.

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    Replies
    1. My reply to you is actually the next post, I don't know why it came out as a separate entry, LOL ;)

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    2. When will your next post comes out?

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    3. To cds: My next one is out already. Although it isn't about the CJ since I write about many things :)

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  5. The price we pay for democracy: eternal vigilance.

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  6. Indeed. Our vigilance is turning out to be a powerful tool. Let's not let up on this and show them what public service really means.

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  7. Thank you very much for the very articulate opinion.

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