POSTSCRIPT / March 22, 2012 / Thursday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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How sweet it is to do nothing -- and then rest!

DIAZ RAPPED: Land Registration Authority Administrator Eulalio Diaz III continued yesterday to reap the ire of senator-judges for giving the prosecution in the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato C. Corona a faulty list of 45 realty assets allegedly owned by the magistrate.

Sen. Miriam Santiago even warned Diaz of possible criminal liability for incriminating persons not involved in the case. With the inclusion of persons other than the Coronas, she said Diaz may be guilty of gross negligence.

There were insinuations that Diaz, a batchmate of President Noynoy Aquino at the Ateneo grade school, may have played along with the prosecution led by Rep. Niel Tupas Jr. who had asked him for the list.

The prosecution and the defense are battling over which property are legally owned by Corona and should therefore be declared in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth.

From the original 45 property listed by Diaz and bandied about by Tupas to media, the prosecution has whittled down the assets to 24, then to 21 (three of them parking slots). But the defense claims that Corona actually owned only five of them.

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NOYNOYING: The reason why the term “Noynoying” has caught on and even landed in international media is because it is true, very descriptive, and widely applicable to non-performing public officials.

Even if pressure were to be applied on such Internet sites as Wikipedia to delete the entry, the new word coined by Filipino street protesters will stay. It has taken root, thanks to Noynoy Aquino himself.

The term has been given various meanings, all related. To many of us, it simply means for someone expected to act on a problem to just sit there and do nothing.

Malacañang may want to adopt as slogan the Spanish line: “¡Qué dulce es no hacer nada y descansar después!” (How sweet it is to do nothing and to rest afterwards!)

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HYPOCRISY: The prosecution in the impeach-Corona trial has rested its case. Despite its not having done much to buttress its case, it now waits for a chance to rest from its labors.

The wobbly structure the prosecution tried to build with non-existing evidence and perjurious (?) testimonies of witnesses is slowly being torn down by the defense.

Among the notable erosion of the prosecution’s case were its dropping five of the eight original Articles of Impeachment and the scaling down of the 45 alleged real property of Corona to only 21.

There is much ado over the valuable property listed because many of the assets were allegedly not declared in Corona’s SALNs in violation of law, making him a liar who should be removed as Chief Justice.

However, as we keep pointing out, it is becoming clear by the day that while the Chief Justice may have been randomly remiss, he is not more guilty on the SALN issue than many of the congressmen prosecuting him and some of the senators judging him.

We keep repeating this to highlight the hypocrisy of it all and to deplore the double standard being applied.

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PADDED REPORT?: The latest survey of Pulse Asia, meanwhile, showed that only 15 percent of 1,200 adults it interviewed from Feb. 28 to March 9 said Corona is “definitely guilty.”

The same poll showed also that 33 percent said he was “probably guilty,” which meant that they were not so sure and that Corona could be “probably innocent.”

The distinction did not stop Pulse Asia for proclaiming that 48 percent (by adding 15 and 33 percent), or almost half, said Corona was guilty. This looks like an attempt to make the anti-Corona figures bigger than they really are.

Although the reliability of the survey cannot be assured, the Pulse Asia report is actually a big blow to the claim of Malacañang that the public saw Corona guilty and that they wanted him ousted as Chief Justice.

Unlike in the past, however, Malacañang did not embark on its usual amplification and dissemination of the survey results.

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TINY SAMPLE: Malacañang need not take seriously the Pulse Asia survey, which looks vulnerable from many angles.

The survey claimed to have involved a sample of 1,200 respondents. How could 1,200 individuals have spoken for 100 million Filipinos (even granting that only 70 million of them are adults).

Since there are more than 1,200 towns and cities in the country, many of these local communities could not have been represented in the nationwide survey! But the survey was represented as the public pulse.

In an ideal controlled situation, 1,200 could be a fair sample, but that is if the population were homogenous and not divided into various economic, educational and social sets. Also if the population were uniformly gathered in one area, not scattered over 7,000 islands.

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NO DEFENSE YET: Another point is that the survey was done Feb. 26 to March 9 when the impeachment court was on recess after 26 days of one-sided hearings dominated by the presentation of the prosecution.

Obviously, the respondents (if their claim is true that they had been following the trial on media) had been exposed only to the prosecution and never to the defense. How then could they have given a fair and intelligent response?

Being of doubtful reliability, for what purpose were the survey results published? Is this part of an attempt to make it appear that public opinion was against Corona and thereby influence senator-judges to vote for conviction?

Some senators have said that in judging Corona they would consider what people think, without explaining how they would determine the public pulse.

Reacting to the report, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile recalled to media that Christ was crucified after being condemned in a survey (actually by a mob outside Pilate’s balcony) but is now universally glorified.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of March 22, 2012)

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