A WITNESS, A JUDGE
Not only was Corona’s infamous cowardly walkout, a desperate attempt to delay impeachment proceedings, but it was a horrible display of his arrogance. He showed that he thought himself above the law. He assumed he could easily come and leave the premise as he pleased, without any official permission, as though he was the presiding judge and not the one taking the stand. Moreover, what was supposed to be simply his opening remarks turned out to be a 3-hour long soliloquy filled with contradictions, lies, crocodile tears and baseless accusations that only deepened his guilt to the public. Senate presiding officer Juan Ponce Enrile had already politely remarked many times if he could cut to the chase. Corona finally ended his speech by saying matter-of-factly, “The Chief Justice of the Republic of the Philippines is to be excused.” And with that, he simply got up and walked towards the exit doors. He delivered those finals words so flippantly, as though he believed he was entitled to have the choice to leave. He seemed convinced that his convoluting introduction was suffice to prove his innocence, and that the Filipino people should simply take in what he had to say.
Speech Filled with Loopholes
Furthermore, Corona also knew that should he wait until the cross-examination, he would not be able to adequately answer questions regarding why several properties and US dollar deposits were not declared in his SALN, nor his 82 bank accounts which Ombudsman Conchita Morales exposed from official AMLC records. Let us not also forget that most importantly, it was the Defense who subpoenaed Ombudsman Morales to testify as their witness, thinking her testimonies would strengthen their case.
During his speech, he used the same powerpoint with a pie-chart of his accounts which Morales used to explain his undisclosed amassed wealth. Corona attempted to prove Morales a liar by identifying several bank accounts and gave details of the branch name and account number, professing that these accounts have already been closed since December 31, 2011. However, Corona only strengthened Morales’s testimony, as he indeed acknowledged the existence of these bank accounts. Morales did not say that they remain open to this day, but that there were deposits of millions of pesos and dollars to these different accounts, and major withdrawals on significant dates, then systematically closed during the years of 2002-2011. Clearly, Corona has been using his authority as the Chief Justice for heinously dishonest dealings.
Never did Corona mention the rapid influx and exit of cash, nor did he explain the origin of these funds. Rather, in this portion of his speech, did he decide to focus instead on challenging Morales’s credibility in many menacing statements. He also explained that the reason why he did not include his US dollar deposits in his SALN was due to a confidentiality in the law which allows non-disclosure of such, which again is another lie, or rather his customized interpretation of the law.
The Defense Team: Interestingly Jimeno was one of the lawyers who signed the petition against Corona for being a midnight appointee.
AN APPEAL TO EMOTION
Corona jumped from one topic onto the next, not shedding any light to his primary allegations. His “defense” strategy was to appeal to emotion, and to convince the Filipino people that he and his family lived simple lives and earned their fortune though honest hard work, and it was they who have been wrongly accused and unfairly judged.
His lengthy speech can be described as a hodgepodge of sorts: accusations hurled at different entities (President Aquino, Presidential Adviser Ronaldo Llamas, Ombudsman Morales, the Basa family, specifically the late Jose Basa III), threats guised in form of heroic righteousness, emotional upheavals as he would recall the turmoils in his life to gain sympathy from the public, and mainly, continuous vehement denials of his guilt. He also provided general statements about his bank accounts and investments that did not explain, nor debunk the fact that he had ridiculous amounts entering and leaving his many accounts. Perhaps Corona had indeed become fed-up with the many negative things thrown at him and simply wanted to explain his side; but he did not do a good job in swaying favor to himself. Rather, he looked like a rookie witness throwing a tantrum on the stand.
Talking about his terminally ill-mother, from whom he claims he inherited a good amount
The Basa family who flew all the way from the US to watch the trial. Corona did not spare the late Jose Basa III from any insults, and attempted to describe the Basa family as the actual oppressors relating to BGEI.
The Waiver: TO BAIT FISH WITHAL, if it will feed nothing else, it will feed my revenge
With what finally seemed like the turning point in his round-about speech, Corona then presented a waiver he agreed to sign which would allow all information of his, as well as his wife’s bank accounts of both peso and foreign currency deposits to be disclosed for public scrutiny. Suddenly, Corona prompted a sliver of a chance that he may be innocent after all, that he was bold enough to show everyone he was not hiding anything,
However, the waiver held that finite condition that all senator judges would have to sign it along with him. He challenged the lawmakers to join him in this act of transparency, to show the Filipino people that they are “deserving of our trust.” , As if he had not already made a mockery of himself, Corona had sunk even lower as he clearly confirmed that he had no intention of disclosing any information on his accounts. This is not to say that everyone among the senator judges have spotless accounts, but the fact of the matter is, Corona is the one on trial, not they. He gave another indication of his guilt, and his crab mentality character— that he knew he may not survive the trial, and so he might as well tarnish the reputations of as many as he can on the way down. In his accusations to Pres. Aquino, Corona personified his own statements, ” a vengeful person is unfit to be a leader.”
TO SHOOT YOURSELF IN THE FOOT, AND THEN THE HEART
As Corona’s speech lengthened, so did he further incriminate himself. It did not stop there when he had the genius idea to immediately leave the Senate hall, leaving his Defense team looking genuinely startled amidst Enrile’s angry barks to shut all exits. Soon after the chaos, Corona, in all his humiliation, emerged in a wheelchair, and soon enough lie after lie was told regarding his medical condition. As all else failed, Corona let himself play the role of the sick person, the same pathetic card GMA had pulled out before.
Strapped on a wheelchair due to hypoglycemia - not the kind of “wheels of justice” we want
At this point, Corona’s guilt has become even more apparent but the question still remains if this will be enough to impeach the dishonorable chief justice. We still don’t know how things will turn out, we can say at least that honesty, prudence and good governance is not a lost cause yet in the Philippines. Beneath the ocean of graft and corruption found in the government, and in almost every nook and cranny in our nation – there is still that strong will for morality to reign, and justice to be served. Yes, the wheels of justice are still slowly turning, but definitely they are turning.