• Corona is gone but truth, honor and justice must be served

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    DEATH came to former Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona, 67, in Pasig City last Friday morning, ending his brave and lonely fight for personal honor, justice and fairness against the most determined political forces of a highly driven partisan regime. He was the 23rd Supreme Court Chief Justice of the Philippines, but the first and only one to be impeached and removed at the behest of an imperatorial President, for clearly personal and political reasons.

    Exactly four years after his removal from office, even those who were originally part of the lynch mob now seem to see that what President B.S. Aquino 3rd and his lackeys did to Corona was clearly indefensible and unjust; his innocence is now as clear and compelling as the malice and guilt of his congressmen-accusers and senator-judges.

    The Constitution wrecked
    Corona’s impeachment and conviction put an end to a distinguished legal and judicial career and began the systematic destruction of the Constitution, the law and jurisprudence and the Supreme Court itself. Upon his death, the Court, under Maria Lourdes Sereno’s incongruous and unseemly leadership, looks several times deader than its departed former Chief.

    In the celebrated Grace Poe Llamanzares case, which has a critical bearing on the May 9 elections, nine members of the 15-strong Court managed to deface the Constitution and the Philippine presidency, particularly with respect to the constitutional qualifications of those who want to become President.

    Final respects
    On Friday evening, I came to pay my respects to the deceased at Heritage Memorial Park in Taguig. With me were some friends from the National Transformation Council – Archbishop Emeritus Fernando Capalla of Davao, Pastor Arturo Corpuz of Manila, former National Security Adviser and Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales, Antonio “Butch” Valdes, convenor of Save the Nation Movement, Baby Nebrida Ballesty and her husband Gene, and Evelyn Kilayko of Tanggulang Demokrasya (Tandem).

    Corona was a founding member of the NTC, which stands for systems change, and earlier that day, which was the NTC’s fifth founding anniversary, Archbishops Ramon Arguelles of Lipa and Capalla with some priests in attendance had offered a Mass in Quezon City for him. We also adopted a statement, copy of which we furnished his widow.

    Sleep of the Just
    The deceased looked like he was simply asleep in the simple but elegant casket with a spray of freshly cut white flowers. Seated close to him was his wife Tina, while children Carla and Francis and older brother Arturo “Toti” Corona sat close by. Toti is a brilliant lawyer; according to his late brother, he is the one with a judicial temperament and should have been the one who entered the Judiciary.

    As young lawyers, Toti and Rene used to work with me at the Department of Public Information in the seventies. But Toti left for advanced legal studies in the United States after a while. Upon his return, he had become overqualified for his old post and had to find something more appropriate. He eventually became Cory Aquino’s DOTC Secretary, but resigned rather than yield to extrinsic pressures to approve a big infrastructure contract, which he thought was against the law and the national interest.

    It was a joy to see him again after so many years.

    On Friday, the family had not yet decided the funeral’s final details. One daughter, Charina, had not yet arrived from the United States, where she now lives. The Supreme Court, which has ordered the flag in all judiciary buildings to be flown at half-mast as a sign of mourning, will obviously want to hold a necrological service, where his former brethren could formally say their farewell to the dear departed; but as of Friday evening, this had yet to be decided.

    Political import
    Amidst the prayerful peace and quiet inside Heritage, the political import of this fallen jurist’s death acquires much greater breadth and depth. In a few days, the nation will choose a new President; by June 30, the tin god that was behind everything the deceased had suffered will ride into the sunset. Yet the very character of this grand event has been altered by what Aquino did to this fallen SC chief. Nothing like Corona’s impeachment and removal has turned our Supreme Court, our Constitution, the rule of law and jurisprudence upside down, with such unnerving promise of permanence.

    Until it happened, one could not imagine anything remotely like it happening. But on Dec. 12, 2011, it did. At Malacañang’s behest, 188 members of the House of Representatives signed eight Articles of Impeachment against Corona, even without reading and verifying the document. Only 95 votes were needed for the House to carry out its mandate as the body with the exclusive power to initiate all cases of impeachment.

    Senate trial
    On Jan. 16, 2012, the Senate, convened as an impeachment court with Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile presiding, commenced the first impeachment trial of a Chief Justice. Twenty-three senator-judges, (the 24th senator having become President of the Philippines), all robed in black like SC justices and sworn to render “impartial justice,” began the proceedings that would surpass the travesty of the aborted impeachment trial of then-President Joseph Ejercito Estrada in 2000-2001.

    On May 29, 2012, 20 of the 23 senator-judges voted to convict and remove Corona as Chief Justice; only three voted against it. Nineteen of the 20 received P50 million or more each after the vote. Sen. Franklin Drilon, then chairman of the powerful Senate finance committee and now Senate President, received the biggest amount of P100 million. Francis Escudero, now running for vice president, received P98 million; Enrile, P92 million. VP candidates Alan Peter Cayetano and Antonio Trillanes IV received P50 million each, more or less. Everybody else received the same amount.

    Bribed judges
    All of the recipients are now running for public office. But this bribery scandal has never been raised against them. Sen. Panfilo Lacson was the only one who voted for conviction but did not receive any bribe. The three who voted to acquit Corona and received nothing were Miriam Defensor-Santiago, now running for president, Ferdinand (Bongbong) Marcos, Jr., the vice-presidential frontrunner, and Joker Arroyo, who ended his second consecutive term and recently died in retirement.

    Sen. Jinggoy Estrada revealed the payoff in a privilege speech on the Senate floor on Sept. 25, 2013. This came months after Enrile lost the Senate presidency to Drilon in June that year. Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad confirmed the specific amounts released to the 19 senator-judges, saying they all came from Aquino’s Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), which the Supreme Court, in a rare act of courage, struck down as unconstitutional in July 2014.

    Three judges jailed
    The supreme irony is that in June 2014, three of those who had voted to convict Corona were charged and detained for plunder, although without reference to the Corona conviction bribe. These include Enrile, Estrada, and Ramon Revilla, Jr. Only Enrile, for reasons of health, was recently allowed to post bail. But even this is being protested by some sectors.

    Review of conviction imperative
    Corona’s death may have provided the reason and the opportunity to inquire into the validity of his conviction and removal, given the clear facts of the case.

    First of all, the personal and political motive for Aquino to have him removed was never in doubt. He appears to have blamed Corona for the Supreme Court ruling that finally allowed the farmers of Hacienda Luisita to own his mother’s family’s sugar estate, which Cory had exempted from the operation of land reform when she was President.

    But even before that, Aquino showed so much bias against Corona just because he was the Chief Justice. Thus, when he took his oath as President on June 30, 2010, he asked Associate Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales, now the Ombudsman, rather than the Chief Justice, to administer his oath, in utter disregard of legal and political tradition and customary practice. He also deliberately omitted acknowledging the CJ’s presence during his inaugural address.

    On Dec. 6, 2011, six days before the 188 congressmen signed the unverified eight Articles of Impeachment, Aquino personally attacked Corona in his presence during a speech before the National Criminal Justice Summit at the Manila Hotel, hosted by the Supreme Court. This, too, was unprovoked and unprecedented.

    Legal reasons
    There are also very strong legal grounds to impeach the verdict of the senator-judges. The bribery has been confirmed by Malacañang itself. And the proceedings appear to have been legally defective. Out of the eight charges against Corona, the prosecution formally dropped five for lack of evidence on Feb. 29, 2012, and abandoned two of the remaining three evidently for the same reason, leaving but one charge, Corona’s alleged failure to publicly disclose his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth.

    Under the Constitution, the impeachable offenses include culpable violation of the Constitution, treason, bribery, graft and corruption, other high crimes or betrayal of public trust. Corona’s accusers saw no basis to charge him with graft and corruption, so they charged him with failing to disclose his SALN instead. But this was not and is not an impeachable offense, and they should have dropped it, like all the other charges.

    Not impeachable ground
    Under the law, an official who fails to make an accurate declaration in his SALN has the right to correct it, without incurring any criminal liability. At the impeachment trial, the prosecution, with the help of Ombudsman Morales, the Bureau of Internal Revenue, Anti-Money Laundering Council, etc., tried to show, and succeeded in showing, that Corona had made certain errors in his SALN statements.

    He had the right, like anybody else, to be allowed to correct these. But he was convicted and removed from office by venal and corrupt senator-judges instead.

    He is no longer around to be reinstated in office should his innocence be officially reestablished. But this grave offense must be corrected. Will some patriotic and just member of our highly damaged and weakened Supreme Court initiate this move, in the name of Truth, Honor and Justice?

    fstatad@gmail.com

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    38 Comments

    1. Midnight appointee of an unelected president. If I remember it right, the CJ position was offered to Tony Carpio but he declined.

      • Jose Garcia on

        Candidates are nominated, no one is “offered”. Carpio declined because he and his “the Firm” were already at odds with GMA and would therefore never be chosen.
        SC had ruled it was a legal appointment. Even Abnoy packed the courts with justices and judges months within what he previuosly claimed as banned periods of appointment.

    2. If we have a Presidential candidate, Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who is a publicly confessed killer, it is the fault of President Benigno Aquino III. During his entire Presidency, he worked for a government ran by men and not by law believing that such govrnment will bring in much needed reforms. He dismissed the horrible traffic situation that he caused thinking that Filipinos are too ignorant to notice it. Now Mayor Rodrigo Duterte is just following the example he has set — flaunting the law and making a mockery of the Constitution believing like Aquino that reforms will come that way. What has Aquino got to say that Duterte promised to end corruption by killing corrupt government officials and not prosecuting them according to the law?

    3. Accountability if not given proper justice in this life, there is always the other life to collect it’s full payment, the truth that most of this corrupt officials failed to consider,,, as if there is no God that will bring justice to the oppress, this corrupt officials will one day face their Creator. Thank God for people who still fight for our constitution, protecting what it stand for,,,the NTC,,, God bless u as you continue to pursue to defend and protect our constitution for the sake of our people and country.

    4. This is a moving and compelling piece of article, Mr. Tatad, one that deserves the nation’s attention in the likes of Zola’s “Je Accuse” in the Dreyfuss Affair. Again, you have done one more patriotic act for the Philippines! Mabuahy po kayo!

    5. Amang Makabayan on

      The clamor for CJ Corona verdict by the corrupt Senator Judges shall be one of the epitome of the Miriam Defensor Santiago-Bongbong Marcos Administration in order to restore the tarnished image of the 3 branches of government specifically the “Supreme Court” which was highly damaged and weakened as well insulted and mocked by this corrupt regime. The Supreme Court as the the direct victim of the corrupt and manipulative political exercise reinforced with the billions of pesos collected from the Filipino People by Malacanang bagman in Kim Henares disbursed by Butch Abad to bribe the corrupt Senator Judges shall act to redeem its old glory and prestige because the mantra will forever be the black eye of justice if its not corrected for the sake of the next generation of Filipinos. Presently, we have a president who ruined the legal fiber of this society, we then need a president who could correct and restore the independence of our justice system.

    6. Any action will be happen for these 9 SC Justices that bastard Our Constitution. Any move by ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES, PHIL, BAR ASSOCIATION, INTEGRATED BAR OF THE PHIL, PHILCONSA, BAYAN all the brilliant lawyers? We must make an action as we are more supreme to these 9 SC Justices they must be remove from their position for not upholding and protecting Our Constitution. MR TATAD do something to initiate the move to oust these 9 SC JUSTICES make a move and the supreme people are behind you.

    7. Frank A. Tucker on

      I was in the Philippines during the first three months of that tragic ‘kangaroo court’ “Senate trial.”

      What a travesty ! Senators I thought to be honest (ha-ha) and above reproach voted to convict with only the three you list above (Senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Ferdinand (Bongbong) Marcos, Jr., and Joker Arroyo) voting NOT guilty.

      There now is NO doubt in my mind whatsoever about Philippine justice.
      Money TALKS !

    8. What happened to Lacson? Why was he left out of the pay off? Did he decline to receive it or was he just overlooked?

    9. Kaya sa darating na election make sure na wala nang lulusot na bataan ni P(ab)noy otherwise magkakaroon nand Bad Boys 2.

    10. If the removal of CJ Corona was illegal…then the appointment of Sereno is illegal as well and she should be removed from office as soon as the new leaders are installed.This would be CJ Corona’s vindication.

      • Out of tune ka naman…the article is about injustice done to Corona,Tapos gusto mong isingit si Llamanzares.Wonder if you have understood what Mr Tatad is trying to drive at…

      • Samuel Santos on

        Guess ko, dahil pumanig ang Supreme Court kay Grace at hindi kay sir Kit.

      • Corona is a crook justice and a midnight appointee of the crook GMA also.
        he was appointe so GMA will get away with her corruption during her term.

    11. Aldrin Tolentino on

      This is just one of the blood in the hands of P-Noy. This death should be blamed to the President. If they were mad at GMA for appointing Corona late, they should have gone after GMA. I hear a lot saying that Corona was appointed because of his affiliation with GMA. Truth or not, it is not for Corona’s to be blamed.

      The Supreme court justice who voted in favor of Poe’s qualification and mockery of the Judicial system are those who deserves to be impeached and removed and banned from the Supreme Court and holding any appointed or elected posts in the government.

      • aldrin tolentino, walang epekto kay benito boy sisi ang pagkamatay ni late corona. baka nga nag party pa sila ni sereno sa malacanan kasi wala ng pag asa na maalis si sereno pagka cj. hindi ba walang empathy si benito boy sisi?? hindi nga nya dinibdib ang mga 44 na saf members na namatay sa mamasapano massacre, hindi ba?? at lately wala syang paki sa mga minasaker ng mga pulis na 4 na magsasaka sa kidapawan.

    12. Girlie Bebbeb on

      It will not be surprising to see for those who wrongly convicted this man will suffer terribly for a long time with diseases before they will die, because it is written ” I will afflict them that afflict “.

      • Yes correct, look at Sen. CAYETANO, Mayor Duterte is soaring high in all the survey he is ( Cayetano) going down. CAYETANO allowed himself to be bribed thru DAP in convicting SC Justice CORONA( RIP). Cayetano has a lot of explaining to do.

      • girlie bebbeb, mga kandidato ang mga tumangap ng bayad galing sa DAP ngayon. pwede mo silang HINDI IBOTO. sila drilon, recto, sotto, guingona, osmena, pangilinan, magkapatid na cayetano, trillanes, etc.

    13. Not only should the conviction of Mr. Renato be overturned but the Supreme Court must re-examine the amount of purchase price that it allowed to the Hacienda. The proper figure must be based on the market value or acquisition value when the ten-year period that the hacienda ought to redound to the government with the lapse of the government guarantee. I am sure the SC can always flip-flop – and they should do immediately after 02 June 2016.

    14. Leodegardo Pruna on

      Justice Corona was unjustly charged and condemned for fighting for truth and justice. He is now at peace with his creator. The people who did this wrong to Justice Corona have their consciences, if ever they have, bothering them their lifetime and they themselves would soon find judgement not only equal to but way above what they did to the good justice. May the Good Lord grant to the soul of Justice Corona eternal peace. And, God please save the Philippines.

    15. What goes around, comes around. Meanwhile, the crooked senators, congressmen and government officials will have their share of their own undoings. Nothing is permanent on this earth.

      The impeachment of former CJ Corona is now showing its ‘negative’ effects in the current system of our government. The approval of the Sereno SC for Poe to run for President poses big problems, if ever she is elected. Suits will follow and I don’t see any resolution to it that soon, despite the declaration of finality. At worst, there will be a Constitutional crisis. I doubt if majority of the Filipinos know the serious complications of such an event to the existence of our democratic country, not even Poe herself, that she didn’t even have the ‘delicadeza’ to quit.

      May God save the Republic of the Philippines.

      • Who, in the face of this earth, ran for president in any country, whose citizenship was renounced and acquired another citizenship and pledged allegiance willing to go to war with her/his new country to fight any enemies. Should the PH vs USA went to war, Poe should have been on of the American soldiers killing the Filipinos. Now she renounced her citizenship for political gain. She is only riding with her adoptive father’s name. Filipinos, wake up you must know who you are voting.

    16. What a shame that some members of the senate would receive money amounting to millions each just to impeach cj corona. Shame shame

      • tama k jn, mr. tatad.. mga corrupt na senator-judges na bumaluktot ng saligang batas at ng kanilang (wala nman)mprinsipyo.. masahol p s hayop ang mga ito.. makakarma din kayo..

    17. Corona’s death would forever be on the conscience of BS Aquino III, if he has any. The CJ was so stressed out by the ignominy of being booted out from his position that his heart finally gave in. What was so unfair was the offense he allegedly committed, filing an incorrect SALN, has also been committed by almost every government official, too.

    18. silvino sarga on

      The incoming President, using his moral suasion must overturn or discard the verdict on Corona. It may not be legally binding but it can wipe the damage wrought to his family by a vengeful, spoiled brat Penoy.

    19. My doubt is getting stronger that no one is brave enough to initiate in correcting such false decision. This total disregard of the law can be considered as one of the horrible legacies of this government to our future generation.

    20. All of the Supreme Court Justices including those senators who received brides from the infamous NOY AQUINO will never step-up as compatriot to mend their prejudicial unpatriotic judgement because they are all vicious animals with no respect to others but only to their idol NOY AQUINO who made his own laws.
      All voters please dump all those candidates siding with NOY AQUINO.

    21. Thank you Sir, for letting the WORLD to know the “REAL TRUTH”!
      So, Is the REAL “SMILING” DICTATOR of these 6 Years “IS HAPPY NOW”?

    22. It’s indeed tragic that a government that claims to be a champion of democracy ruins the process by giving in to the whims of a capricious “leader”! May true justice be served when they’re no longer in power and their immunity from suits gone.

    23. Will some patriotic and just member of our highly damaged and weakened Supreme Court initiate this move, in the name of Truth, Honor and Justice?
      —————————————

      There are not many good people left in the government. The government has been over run by the bad guys.

      They now control of every agency that is supposed to keep the government in check.

      The Liberal Party control and dictate to the Senate and House of Rep’s, The Ombudsman, Justice Dept, COA, The Courts, Comelec, Police, Army, Newspapers and the Television stations.

      It’s over,

      The bad guys won.