Thursday, March 15, 2012
What I Learned From Cuevas And Company
Many people have commented about how "brilliant" Chief Justice Corona's defense team is, in particular, former Justice Serafin Cuevas with his kilometric objections. So I thought it best to compile what I've learned from the defense team so far.
1. Invoke the "rule of law" when it suits you.
When the prosecution presented their witnesses, introduced evidence, and did anything to build up their case, they were always rebuffed by the defense team - and cheered on gleefully by senators like Miriam Defensor-Santiago - with statements like "Irrelevant", "Not included in the Articles of Impeachment", and the like. One thing the defense had thrown out was 2.4 of the Articles of Impeachment, the allegation that the Chief Justice had ill-gotten wealth. And now that they've done that, we move on to number 2.
2. Discard the "rule of law" when it doesn't suit you.
Their witnesses this week are concentrating on the "proper-ness" of the CJ's wealth. Disbursement officer Bayuga came in testifying about how much allowances, bonuses, expenses, etc. Corona was getting as his "earnings" for being the highest magistrate of the land. This, after anything related to his supposed irregularity of obtaining wealth was something they successfully had thrown out. The prosecution cannot present anything that will prove their allegation, but the defense is free to proclaim all evidence to prove the opposite.
Again, this specific discussion was thrown out, thanks to them.
And now that the "Acquisition Costs" have been initially hashed out today, and there is no denying the fact that Corona in some of his SALNs left the column for these particular amounts blank, Cuevas says it could be the secretary who prepared the SALN, or maybe the valuation of the property is much lower than when it was bought.
And I thought following the "rule of law" meant just that: If you do not declare something truthfully in your SALN, then you are breaking the law. And Corona has been "not declaring" for a decade? Once, we can let it slide. To do it for 10 years, no excuse. Is Cuevas now saying that even though Corona signed the SALN as correct and true under oath, he is not liable?
What happened to "rule of law"?
3. Allege that senators can be bribed. They won't bite. WAH!
When private prosecutor Aguirre covered his ears to save his eardrums from Santiago's vitriol - and only as a reaction to her and her alone, he even gave a speech of how some senators talk down to the prosecutors and not caring about human dignity, obviously referring to her - he was adjudged by the entire impeachment court as being bastos (rude or disrespectful) to the entire Court.
When Atty. Roy of the defense called a press conference to announce that they have "reliable information" that the Senators were being bribed for 100 Million pesos each, something that reads to me as an indictment of the entire Court as having their votes "for sale", what did the Senators do?
Openly reacting honestly to a senator's diatribe and cussing? Bastos. To the whole court.
Spreading unfounded rumors about the conduct of the Court as a whole, casting doubts on their impartiality and integrity? No comment. Approved.
Should we allow children to learn ethics from this example?
4. "Wait for our turn", they implore. Then stonewall some more when the floor is yours.
When people commented based on what the prosecution has presented thus far, and the consensus is that there is definitely something irregular in the transactions and conduct of the Chief Justice, defense cried foul saying it was unfair to be judged that way when they haven't presented their evidence.
Santiago even denounced a survey in UP (75% of the respondents believed Corona to be guilty), asking that the students be expelled. (I didn't know people could be expelled for expressing opinions. Is former president Ferdinand Marcos back from the dead? Did Santiago declare Martial Law?)
Now that the floor is theirs - and they lead us to believe that they were raring to disprove the allegations contained in the Articles of Impeachment, this is what they did.
Cuevas again - unsuccessfully - tried to declare the entire trial void/illegal and thrown out.
After being rebuffed, he presents Tiangco as his first witness, something to bolster his contention why the trial should be stopped. No comment from the Senators.
They present Bayuga, who listed the salary and allowances of the Chief Justice. She unwittingly made the prosecution's case stronger: Out of the purported 21 million he "earned" (Bayuga included 2011 earnings, when the SALNs in question were until 2010.), 5.8 million of which is his "official salary", the House Chairman of accounts has said that 7 million of those bonuses should be liquidated. (Returned if unused, and explained with receipts if used.) Given the properties he has amassed and their known acquisition costs, he cannot justify having bought them with what he has "earned".
They present Villaruz, who could only testify regarding tax declarations and assessed value. He cannot speak for the Acquisition Costs, which is what was in question (they were all blank in Corona's SALNs.) Even Presiding Officer Enrile seemed exasperated and had to spell this out to Cuevas, as to what was being asked or being determined in relevance to the Articles of Impeachment.
And I saved the best thing I learned so far for last.
5. You're a criminal? Illegal activities? Open a Dollar account here - It's more fun in the Philippines!
That's because NO ONE has the right to question anything in a dollar account, because our laws state that unless you give your consent, not even an impeachment trial, or allegations of fraud, can force any government official or body to look into those accounts.
Oh, happy day for money laundering! The AMLC (Anti Money Laundering Council) is a joke in this country! Come one! Come all! Criminals, nefarious characters, dubious dealings, the Mafia! Open Season for where to stash your loot! It's perfectly legal and safe to keep your wealth here!
Only in the Philippines.