Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Corona-Carpio Squabble Started Because of Fraport

"It's all about the money", says a newly met friend who happens to be very close and very intimate with two great and opposing powers in the Judiciary---the impeached Chief Justice and his known rival, Justice Antonio Carpio. I will not reveal his name, nor the circumstances of our meeting except to say that he is one man out to redeem his soul. He, an Atenean, is a man who wants to correct the wrongs of the past and help this country move forward.

Shortly after talking to him, it dawned upon me that any successful revolution requires one singular mission---to rid the entire system of malevolent legal minds who condon evil acts and exercises none of the morality that makes the law majestic in the eyes of the people.

President Aquino is right at one point and wrong at another--yes, it is entirely true and necessary for those who want change to get rid of misfits in the judiciary. But, if this campaign of Aquino's is solely due to a goal to get rid of people within the judiciary who does not ascribe nor pay homage to Aquino's most preferred law firm, then, Aquino's straight path is as crooked as another's.

Understanding what is happening right now in the judiciary requires an earlier review of what had happened to the triumvirate that built the CVC--or what is known as the Carpio, Villaraza and Cruz Law Offices (now known as Villaraza, Cruz Marcelo and Angcangco). If Marcos has his ACCRALAW (Angara Abello Concepcion Regala & Cruz Law Offices), the new powers who supplanted him, has theirs--CVC Law.

In every administration in this country, there is always a law firm behind it, dominating the scenes, influencing policy especially appointments in government. Fact is, the practice of law in the Philippines is not just about solving crimes or punishing the guilty, but it is more of lobbying, especially in corporate law. 

During the turbulent Marcos years, the ACCRALAW dominated the scene by influencing the former dictators' actions especially appointments. ACCRA was the most sought-after law firm during that time because of its strong reputation as Marcos legal buddies.

Marcos was deposed, but ACCRALAW survived and even flourished during the post-Marcos era. ACCRA produced some of the best Senators around, including one, Senator Ed Angara. ACCRA eventually returned to what its original mission statement is--to be the country's top law firm, not the country's top political operators.

That enviable role, of being political operators and lobbyists, shifted from ACCRA law to CVC law, the firm built by several lawyers who started their careers at ACCRA.

In the 1980, a few years before EDSA 1, some lawyers from ACCRA founded CVC. The CVC had respectable clients back then, but they mattered little compared with other law firms. The firm had to wait for 1992 to become what it wants--the most sought after law firm in the country.

Carpio, one of the senior partners, was privileged enough to be neighbours with Fidel V. Ramos, who was then Chief of Staff of the beleaguered Cory Aquino. The CVC law firm helped Ramos in his presidential campaign. When Ramos won, he appointed Tony Carpio, one of the stalwarts of the firm, as his Chief Legal Counsel.

It was during Ramos' time that the "Firm" initiated the biggest operation ever--with Carpio leading the charge in appointing RTC judges. The CVC grew in astronomical numbers during this time, powered by their strong influence and proximity to Ramos. 

It was at this time that members of the firm met Renato Corona, who served as Assistant Executive secretary for Legal Affairs of then president Ramos. 

While the CVC law firm took care of Ramos, incidentally, one of the firms' partners, Avelino Cruz was also close to Mike Arroyo, husband of Senator Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who was then, being pump-primed to become President. It was said that the CVC LAW FIRM was able to raise funds for the senatorial candidacies of Arroyo, even, as some say, funding her vice presidential run.

It is not a coincidence though that most members of this law firm took a very active role in diminishing and eventually, ousting former president Joseph Estrada. When Arroyo took power, she got Carpio and Cruz with her.

Avelino Cruz became defense secretary while Carpio assumed his old post as legal counsel. Eventually, Carpio became justice of the Supreme Court.

Corona stayed with Gloria Arroyo as Executive secretary before he was appointed to the court as associate justice and eventually, Chief Justice. 

The JEC deal

The JEC deal was the first MULTI=BILLION PESO CASE that involved CVC. Due to the anomalous nature of the contract, two former presidents refused to sign it. After this came the highly controversial PEA-AMARI deal. Yet, the most controversial and could be the one that eventually affected the relationships of several partners of the firm and their "external associates", was the Fraport deal.

Let me published a portion of the report on Fraport here. You ask, why do I say that this deal eventually broke the strong bonds between the Carpio Villaraza group and of the impeached Chief Justice? 

It was said that one of the associate justices right now was the one who asked Fraport to pay US$ 20 million bribe money to Pancho Villaraza, one of the senior partners of the firm.

The Piatco deal thus had many of the same defects as the Jancom garbage collection contract. That didn't stop the Supreme Court from deciding the other way on the Piatco case. Where it said in the Jancom case that procedural lapses, even violations of laws, could be disregarded if the government and the other party reached an agreement, the Supreme Court said in the Piatco case that the defects in its contract automatically rendered it null and void. 
The CVC law firm represented Asia's Emerging Dragon Corp, the original proponent of the BOT project, which lost the bid contact project to Piatco. However, many businessmen and lawyers are convinced that this could not have been the reason the Carpio group worked against the Piatco deal because the high court initially suggested that the government renegotiate with Piatco. 
Fraport alleged that the reason for the Supreme Court decision was Fraport's refusal to pay a $20 million bribe to Villaraza, plus $50 million to buy out its original Filipino partners in favor of three businessmen who are close to President Arroyo. 

What the public did'nt know is the fact that there was some money which went around, ostensibly not which came from the Germans, but from a losing bidder who contracted the firm to be able to reverse the decision favoring Fraport. That facilitation money was not given to the intended parties but was kept by one of the firm's leading personalities. 

This person, according to my friend, was severely criticized by members of Arroyo's gang of misfits during her administration, so much so, that it led to the eventual break or severage of ties between Arroyo and the "Firm". 

During Arroyos term, a meeting was held ostensibly to discuss the fate of this person, who now ascends the rungs of power. It was discussed there that he be meted the most severe penalty---he will not be given the power to become Chief Justice. 

Impeached chief Justice Renato Corona, a dear friend of this person, defended him before the Arroyos. Corona held this person of high regard being a colleague during the administration of Ramos. 

Now, surely, in this administration, this person eventually regained his stature and his former firm's top billing as the most influential law firm behind the Aquino administration.

The firm, according to several sources, got the President's good graces because the firm gave  a presidential brother-in-law, a job as chairman of a firm. Likewise, it was said that part of the campaign money used by the Aquinos during Noynoy's 2010 presidential campaign came from this group.

The firm, again according to my friend, has one singular mission---to be able to tell Mrs. Arroyo and its detractors, that the initial plan not to give the Chief Justice post to a former senior partner of the firm, will not materialized. The Firm, according to sources, is hell bent on destroying Corona and lift the "curse" so to speak, that former Arroyo associates put out against this associate justice.

The firm is flexing its muscles and is relying on the high popularity ratings of this president. However, the more this firm does their thing, the riskier it is for this president. 

Is the President willing to sacrifice his political capital just to give way to the whims and caprices of his political financiers and buddies?


The very fact that this President will even use "People Power" to get rid of Corona, who now takes a very contrari stance against the firm, is a firm proof that this President wants to go the distance and in exchange for what? It's really a 10 billion peso question.

Hacienda Luisita. The president's relatives are asking for ten billion pesos as compensation. Plus, there are other projects supposedly being handled by the Firm which are now waiting for either the president's signature or the High Court's decision.

This is not a tussle between the Chief Executive and the impeached Chief Justice. This is a monumental fight between two big Atenean heavyweights---those who were previously aligned with the Firm and those with the Firm. This is not a fight for clean government nor a fight against graft and corruption, no.

Yes, Corona may be as corrupt as any other, but for this President to supplant him with an equally malevolent Spirit, is something more detestable and equally unacceptable.

This power struggle is turning off eventual investors. This power struggle is really disappointing simply because this administration is using the "pro-Arroyo" bogey like how the military has used the red scare in crushing insurgencies. 

This administration has not been exactly forthright with its intentions of really cleansing the bureaucracy. It does so under pretentious circumstances. 

The wheeling dealing has to stop. The influence of this firm in the government should also stop. Let the People be mobilized to get rid of this malevolent Spirit embracing the government officials inside the palace.

Oust Corona, Oust Carpio and every single one in the judiciary that has previous associations or links with the Firm. Let the judiciary be truly cleansed of misfits by ridding itself of so-called influence peddlers like those of this Firm, according to my friend.

Of course, this Firm will never back down. It has the resources. It has the strong links. 

" The only language these people behind the firm knows is simply force. They use force to wiggle their way to power. Let force then be used to bring down this malevolent Spirit that afflicts wounds within the judiciary with their immoral and evil ways, and all will go back to normalcy"

" The firm is used to being a bully. But, if you fight them back, they will recoil like a snake, wait for several weeks, and strike you back. The only way to kill the snake is to kill its head. And God knows, the time has come to hit the head, strike this snake and expunged it from our lives. God lives as a Just God. The time will come when this malevolent Spirit will go back to where it came from---the pits of hell."

Instead of a people power against Corona, let People Power bring down this malevolence so that peace will eventually reign, and morality in governance and in dispensing justice be corrected.

By the way, who swore Senator Loren Legarda as senator? See this picture---it is none other than Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, who, some people say, salivates the Chief Justice post.