Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Chief Justice Corona's walkout is not a technicality

One of the most cruel of jokes that people passed around during yesterday's classic "walkout" of Chief Justice Corona at the Senate Impeachment trial was all about being sick. Just like what Erap did during his own trial and later incarceration, when he suddenly got operated on in the knee, or that of Gloria having spine troubles and colitis, it is now the turn of Corona to reportedly show how sick he is, shortly after his ex-Supreme Court colleague and now Ombudsman Morales exposed his alleged 82 bank accounts.


Corona right now has been transferred to the ICU--a frequent refuge of those previously accused of stealing the people's money and getting away with it. Erap had his time there, so did Gloria. Many of those accused during the pre-need firms scandals also took refuge in the ICU of, you guess, St Luke's ICU. This time, it's the Medical City.


The most famous patient was this alleged young murderer who suddenly got himself sick when  jail-time was mentioned. Doctors eventually exposed him as a fraud and he was immediately hauled to Bicutan. 


A former governor also spent his time in a hospital instead of Muntinlupa. Had not someone exposed what he was doing there, he would have stayed there for a long time. 


Same case for this Korean mafia leader who escaped last Christmas, when he himself spent the rest of his jail time in a posh St. Luke's hospital suite. He was so sick, he managed to catch a plane and escaped Philippine jurisdiction, with his immigration guards feigning innocence. This is now becoming the cono's alibi---spending time in a hospital instead of suffering from the sweltering heat of a prison cell. 


IN Corona's case, however, it is evident that he really got sick yesterday. He's diabetic. Of course, a diabetic will suffer complications if he failed to eat. Defense lawyers were quick to the draw, saying that Corona suffered a drop in his sugar (?) levels and he escaped the clutches of the Senate on a wheelchair.


No doubt--Corona is sick. Cruel for people to suggest that yesterday's walkout scene was part of the defense. As I wrote previously, the defense should not win through a technicality, no. A win by technicality is not an option, since this will not solve the image problems of the Chief Justice. 


The people should be convinced he did nothing wrong. That those monies which he kept in those accounts came from legitimate sources and the reason why it was never reported was the interpretation of the Chief Justice that these were all kept confidential and it is entirely legal for someone not to report it in his SALN.


Meaning, the alibi is still a legal technicality, since what the Chief Justice said yesterday was he did not report all these bank accounts simply because he interpreted the law to mean that  it is up to the filer to consider disclosure or not. 


What the Learned Chief Justice forgot was, the intention of the law on SALN should have been his paramount consideration when he filed his SALN. The spirit of that law requires every government official to disclose his assets and liabilities, among those assets are his bank accounts.


When I was still working for government, I was asked to disclose every single thing I owned. This includes bank accounts. I really doubt it if the Chief Justice thought that the same SALN form I filled up was entirely different from his. 


Anyway, Chief Justice Corona should summon all his remaining strength and face the impeachment trial. Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile gave his defense panel up to today to produce the Chief Justice so that he be made to answer several questions from the prosecution. 


There are insinuations that yesterday's appearance was surely the last, which I think, that dramatic walkout (which several Senate staffers described as a failed escape) harmed the CJ more than benefitted him. 


People don't like cowards or pretentious heroes. If the CJ did err, he must admit it. The Filipino Public will eventually understand and will forgive him. He must, however, be made accountable to the very thing the CJ worshipped throughout his life---the law.