POSTSCRIPT / March 8, 2012 / Thursday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Give Azkals ‘stray dogs’ psycho test, treatment?

OPENING SALVO: Speaking out of the formal confines of the Senate impeachment court hearing charges that he had committed high crimes to merit dismissal, Chief Justice Renato C. Corona fired yesterday the opening salvo of his upcoming defense.

In a televised interview on radio station dzBB, the beleaguered Corona said in response to questions:

* He will explain to the last centavo the entries in his questioned Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth and show there is no discrepancy between what he had declared and what he legally owns or earned.

* He is ready to testify on his bank accounts, including dollar deposits, but will consider his lawyers’ advice on the wisdom of his taking the witness stand.

* He withdrew substantial deposits in the Philippine Savings Bank, because he lost faith in the bank after learning that it was the source of the leak of confidential information and documents pertaining to his accounts.

* The campaign of President Noynoy Aquino to hound him out of the Supreme Court is an offshoot of the tribunal’s order that the Aquino-Cojuangco clan’s Hacienda Luisita be given to the farm workers and his objections to the clan’s demand that they be paid P10 billion for it.

* There is no other woman in his life and he had never threatened to shoot a worker of his wife’s relatives, adding that the rumors on this alleged errant behavior were black propaganda.

* He linked Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio (who he said has been aspiring for the top SC post) and his associates in his former law firm to the campaign to ruin his name in the public mind.

* * *

MY STAND: During this brief break in the Senate hearing, and as the Corona defense panel prepares for its presentation on Monday, it may be timely to clarify to readers how Postscript stands on the impeachment of the Chief Justice.

I don’t really care if Corona is removed or retained as Chief Justice, provided this is done properly under the law and without destroying the delicate check and balance among the three branches of government.

The same scrutiny being used to judge the Chief Justice as regards his SALN should be applied, possibly in a parallel public process, on his accusers from the House of Representatives and the senators who sit in judgment.

With the initiating, hearing and deciding of impeachment cases having been assigned by the Constitution exclusively to the Congress, the President should respect the process and not butt in with uncalled-for statements.

* * *

EVIDENCE IRRELEVANT: While we non-lawyers who simply want to find the truth welcome Corona’s talking freely to the mass media outside the impeachment court, we wonder how his dzBB interview will affect his standing with the Senate IC.

Because impeachment is largely a political process, a defendant has to fight two battles simultaneously: one before the Senate court and another in the court of public opinion where the rules are ill-defined and easily manipulated.

For better or for worse, the search for truth and justice via impeachment is distorted by politics.

The evidence is largely irrelevant to meting out a just ruling of conviction or acquittal. The evidence is hardly given any probative value. It is useful only to senator-judges looking for a way to justify or rationalize their political bias or personal agenda.

* * *

NOY A NUISANCE?: Some senators have expressed dismay over attempts by some parties to subvert the trial by pleading the case before the extended jury of the people outside the court.

Yesterday, Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos went to the extent of calling President Aquino a “big nuisance,” lamenting that his statements on the trial have been causing confusion. (“Malaking pampagulo ang nangyayari.)

Marcos complained that since the President’s tirade against the Chief Justice did not tally with the evidence being presented in the Senate, “it muddies the water and places the judges in a very difficult position.”

“I don’t know what the purpose is,” he said, “because the senator-judges are very, very focused in what is going on during the trial.”

* * *

STRAY DOGS: What do we do when some Azkals players act, as their name may suggest, like “asong kalye” (street dogs) but we need them to win football matches here and abroad?

The dilemma arose when Cristy Ramos, daughter of former President Fidel V. Ramos, filed a sexual harassment complaint against Azkals players Angel Guirado and Lexton Moy with the Asian Football Confederation.

Cristy, who served as commissioner of the international football exhibition match between the Philippines and Malaysia last week, said she felt insulted with their sexist remarks and behavior during her inspection in the Azkals’ dugout at the Rizal Memorial Stadium before the game.

Do we, as in the case of prosecution lawyer Vitaliano Aguirre in the impeachment trial, simply reprimand them so we do not lose them or affect the field performance of our national football team?

* * *

PSYCHO TESTS: Social Welfare Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman weighed in with a stern piece of advice: make the offending Azkals submit to psychiatric and psychological assessments and be taught how to comport themselves.

Why have psychiatric tests and treatment now seem to be in vogue? A spillover from the political spectacle in the Senate and Malacañang?

“It really is no joke when you’re idolized by so many, and you misbehave,” Soliman said, “I don’t want to insult dogs, it’s just not acceptable to me because young people idolize you.”

Talking to reporters, former First Lady Amelita “Ming” Ramos, said she fully supported her daughter’s filing the case. She said: “They should behave, they should have just respected her. Instead they were laughing when she was checking their credentials.”

She called on the Azkals team captain, James Younghusband, to discipline his teammates. “He didn’t do anything to control them,” she lamented.

* * *

(First published in the Philippine STAR of March 8, 2012)

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