POSTSCRIPT / May 27, 2012 / Sunday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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With CJ’s case rested, let the nation heal itself

TURNING POINT: I emerged from last Friday’s finale of the four-month-old impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato C . Corona feeling light and happy. I sensed change in the air.

The jumbled pieces seemed to have been dropped into their proper places as if by a divine hand. I have this feeling that not even the distracting diatribes of Malacañang can change the imminent judgment.

The fate of the Chief Justice and of the nation is sealed.

* * *

DON’T DISTURB: The Constitution assigns the entire impeachment process to the two coordinate chambers of the Congress. The President has nothing to do with it.

President Noynoy Aquino and his spokesmen should now shut up. They should not insult the senators with running commentaries hinting at how they should weigh the facts of the case.

Despite their individual biases and all, the senators are presumed to be doing their best to be fair. Don’t disturb them.

* * *

FEUD SETTLED: It was providential that a recess was called after the Chief Justice handed in a signed unconditional waiver of his rights against undue inspection of his bank accounts and statement of net worth.

That pause provided the private moment, though in a public place, for the families of Corona and his Basa in-laws to move toward each other in a reconciliation that ended a 30-year property dispute.

One could almost see a divine light shining on them as they wept and hugged one another – with the Basas also going to the Chief Justice on the witness stand to embrace and kiss him.

* * *

PRAYERS ANSWERED: Credit for bringing the feuding families together goes to their common friend Baby Nebrida and a clutch of other friends and classmates.

Ms Nebrida said their prayers for healing have been answered.

The reconciliation pushed farther out the irrelevant Corona-Basa case that the prosecution, aided by the Yellow media, has been using in a costly and cruel campaign to demonize the Chief Justice.

The prosecution had questioned Corona’s not declaring a P34-million bank deposit in his statement of assets. He explained that since the money came from the sale of the disputed property, it was not his.

Why did he quickly withdraw the money after he was impeached? He said he was alerted by his friends in Malacañang that the fund would be frozen.

Why did he deposit it back? Because, he said, the bank procedure was for the money not to be withdrawn in cash, but re-deposited in a settlement account that was then emptied and closed.

* * *

APOLOGY: The reconciliation with the Basas happened as the senators were discussing in a closed-door caucus what to do with the Corona waiver submitted after the prosecution and the defense had rested.

Before that, the ailing Chief Justice humbled himself and apologized to the senator-judges – and to the nation — for his leaving the hearing last Tuesday without permission.

With his doctors standing by, the diabetic Corona explained that he was suddenly hit by hypoglycemia (low blood sugar condition) and did not want to vomit or collapse in the trial hall.

Corona was ferried to the Senate trial Friday in an ambulance from The Medical City where he had been confined since Tuesday.

* * *

WHO’S LYING?: Replying to questions of senator-judges, Corona said that his three peso bank accounts had some P80 million and his four dollar accounts $2.4 million.

The figures are a far cry from the 82 dollar accounts holding $10 million reported by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales. Corona’s relations with Morales, a former SC colleague, have not been that cordial.

With the Chief Justice’s unconditional waiver, it should be easier now for media and the authorities to find out who between Corona and Morales is lying.

* * *

WHAT LAW APPLIES?: Corona clarified that not all the P80 million was his since it consisted of commingled funds with some of his children in the United States chipping in.

Why did he not declare his dollar deposit in his statement of assets? He explained that the law on foreign currency deposits clothed them with absolute confidentially and, therefore, need not be disclosed.

The issue boils down to an interpretation of the law. So, who should say that non-disclosure a crime? And if it is a crime, is it serious enough to warrant impeachment?

Is the Senate impeachment court, or the Supreme Court, the proper body to interpret the law?

* * *

LET’S WAIT: With the Chief Justice having apologized, submitted in person an unconditional waiver and given his side, it may be wise for everybody – including Malacañang — to just await the impeachment court’s ruling.

The trial has ended anyway

Continuing the character assassination and belatedly bringing up additional issues will not serve any purpose except to unduly influence the senators and mislead the public.

While awaiting the decision, the sane and noble course of action for our leaders is to strive to heal the wounds — and to seek justice through the courts, not outside.

* * *

LEAD BY EXAMPLE: As demonstrated in the settlement in one miraculous moment of the bitter Corona-Basa feud festering for 30 years, if we pray together we may yet achieve peace, unity and progress for our suffering nation.

Continued internecine partisan combat fueled by greed and hatred will not do our nation any good.

Whether Corona is convicted or acquitted, let his waiver serve as a starting point for all government personnel, especially officials, to open themselves for examination.

We invite President Aquino and all officials in the three branches to lead by issuing their own unconditional waiver for the examination of their bank accounts, realty holdings and other valuable assets.

* * *

(First published in the Philippine STAR of May 27, 2012)

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