I learned from my colleague Kit Tatad of former chief justice Renato Corona’s sudden death while I was coincidentally writing my column for April 30.
The news grieved me deeply and left me stunned. So I hastened to write a note on his passing in my column, which by happenstance dealt with the issue of bank deposits secrecy (“Waiver of bank account secrecy is a sound idea,” Manila Times, April 30).
This is what I wrote:
‘A national tragedy’
“Yesterday, former chief justice Renato Corona died suddenly of cardiac arrest.
“His sudden passing is doubly saddening and ironic, because it has come at a time when the bank secrecy law is heavily being questioned, and the subject of hidden bank deposits has become an issue in the election campaign.
“The late chief justice was impeached for allegedly failing to include foreign currency deposits in his SALN (statement of assets, liabilities and net worth), and he was thereafter convicted when he inexplicably and dramatically executed a waiver of secrecy on his bank accounts.
“The controversy over his bank deposits was triggered by violations of the bank deposits secrecy law by no less than the Anti-money Laundering Council (AMLC), evidently on the command of President Benigno B.S. Aquino III.
“I watched every single day of Corona’s impeachment trial at the Senate on live TV, and I remember well the travesty of justice that transpired and the oftentimes bizarre introduction of evidence.
“The fact that 20 senators sold themselves to Aquino for Corona’s lynching turned his story into a national tragedy.”
Verdict on senator-judges
I will not leave it at this because on Monday, May 9, the nation will hold national elections, and many of the senator-judges at Corona’s trial are standing for election.
This affords us citizens a not-to-be-missed opportunity to render our personal verdict on the senator-judges.
I have a mind to reward those who stood by Corona during his ordeal with my vote.
And I will not vote to re-elect or return to the Senate the senators who ignominiously voted to convict him, and took a bribe from Aquino.
Santiago, Marcos get my vote
For their unwavering and courageous decision to do the right thing and acquit Corona of the impeachment charges, I will vote for Miriam Defensor-Santiago as my president; and I will vote for Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. as my vice-president.
(The third dissenter in the Corona impeachment trial, Sen. Joker Arroyo, died last year.)
Consequently, I will reject the vice-presidential candidacies of Senators Francis Escudero, Alan Peter Cayetano, Antonio Trillanes, and Gregorio Honasan, who all voted to convict and to receive a reward for doing so.
The following names will not appear in my ballot among my senatorial choices:
Lacson refused the DAP incentive; he was rewarded with a hollow Cabinet assignment instead.
Need for a new Senate
The rank injustice done to Renato Corona cries out for correction, and we may think that there is nothing now that can be done to vindicate his memory.
Benigno BS Aquino, the architect of it all, will be gone from office on June 30, and it is an open question whether he will be made to answer formally for his misdeeds and his abusive persecution of Corona.
The story of Corona’s impeachment deserves to be told by a legal scholar and an investigative journalist. Future students of the law and political science will profit from it and learn who was vile and who was honorable in this shameful chapter in the nation’s history.
I believe the Senate badly needs a change of faces.
Because of the election rules, senators who were elected in the 2013 mid-term election and are running for higher office in this year’s election, will be returning to the Senate after the balloting, even if they lose.
That means we haven’t seen the last of Grace Poe, Escudero, Cayetano, Trillanes and Honasan in the Senate of the Philippines.
With these politicians returning, and Drilon, Sotto and Recto probably winning reelection, it would be as if nothing has changed in the chamber.
This is a pity, because the chamber badly needs a facelift. According to the Philippine Trust Index, the Senate is one government institution that does not enjoy a good trust rating from the public. It is only surpassed in disrepute by the presidency and the House of Representatives.
Names for a Senate facelift
As a contribution to the Senate facelift, I will vote for the following candidates for senator:
Richard Gordon – The hard-charging former senator and
Red Cross chairman will get my vote.
He should be returned to the chamber, where he made an impact during his one term there. He is in the books as the author of several landmark legislation, such as the Tourism Development Act and the Automated Election System Law.
Martin Romualdez – I am making a special pitch for my fellow Leyteño, Martin Romualdez.
For the longest time, Leyte and East Visayas have not been represented in the Senate since the time of President Ramon Magsaysay in the 1950s. Our last senator was the guerrilla leader Ruperto Kangleon.
Martin is a scion of the Romualdez clan in Leyte. He is a nephew of former first lady Imelda Romuadez-Marcos. He is cousin to Tacloban mayor Alfred Romualdez, the man on whom Mar Roxas bestowed the infamous putdown, “You are a Romualdez, the President is an Aquino.”
If only for the ordeal that Leyte and East Visayas lived through with Supertyphoon Yolanda/Haiyan and the saga of rebuilding and reconstruction, my home-province and home-region should be given a voice in the Senate.
Getulio Napeñas – to perpetuate the memory of the fallen
SAF44 in the Mamasapano massacre, I will vote for Napeñas for senator. It is not right that the administration has made him a scapegoat in the massacre, while the perpetrators of the killings have not been indicted.
Napeñas, a soldier through and through, will be a credit to the Senate.
Neri Colmenares – I do not understand why the Left up to now has failed to elect a candidate from its ranks to the Senate. Every election, it dutifully puts up a candidate to represent it — only to be dashed by the electoral verdict.
I submit that it is time for the nation to give a voice to the
Left in the Senate. Neri will be an articulate voice for public interest causes and social policy.
I am pleasantly surprised that Neri has been able to buy some advertising for his campaign in the big networks. A capitalist somewhere profits when a socialist buys advertising.
My ballot, not yours
Some or many will quibble with my choices for president, vice-president and senator, raising all kinds of arguments.
I will answer: This is my ballot, not yours. The selections I have made only have to make sense to me, not you. You will get to your own selections, using whatever criteria you consider relevant.
With that, I leave you, dear readers, to your own devices in making your selections.