Reality check. 6:00 pm. 25 May 2012. Friday.
The long wait is over.
Impeached Philippine Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona appeared in the Impeachment Court today despite his doctors' advise. There were no additional direct examination from the defense panel while the prosecution panel has waived their rights for cross-examination. That has left the Chief Justice to respond only to the questions of the Senator Judges which comprise the Philippine Impeachment Court.
The Chief Justice made an apology to the members of the Impeachment Court, to the defense and prosecution panels, and to the whole nation, of the ruckus last Tuesday, 22 May 2012, on the "alleged" walk-out. He candidly admitted that he was nervous, and with an empty stomach, he suffered hypoglycemia. He said, it was totally unexpected. As a matter of fact, he was hospitalized after that.
Too late the hero.
Chief Justice Renato Corona submitted his waiver that will enable the Impeachment Court to scrutinize his dollar accounts and this time with no conditions. Days ago, he challenged the 188 congressmen who filed the complaint against him plus a senator judge to submit the same kind of waiver. He said that he will submit his waiver if all of the challenged 189 government officials will also submit theirs.
The Impeachment Court however, could not do anything about this waiver. The reason was clearly explained by the presiding officer of the Impeachment Court, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile. He said that the court is "not a producer of evidence". Further, the court according to him is a "hearer of facts". As such, the court could not subpoena anyone related to this since the witnesses should be produced by the opposing panels. The prosecution has already finished its presentation of evidence and the defense is about to finish their evidence with their last witness, who is the Chief Justice. Therefore, the waiver is NOTHING! Utterly useless!
One of the Chief Justice's highlight in today's testimony is about Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales. The Ombudsman is a former justice of the Supreme Court. When she retired from the Supreme Court, she received 650,000 pesos as retirement benefit. The Chief Justice said that the Ombudsman was used by Malacanang (i.e., palace of the President of the Republic) in presenting those alleged Anti Money Laundering Council (AMLAC) documents. The documents asserts that the Chief Justice has about 82 dollar accounts and has about 10 to 12 million dollars in those accounts. When asked by one Senator Judge as to why is there some sort of "dispute" between them, the Chief Justice Corona said that one of the reasons is when Ombudsman Morales asked for a bigger retirement benefit.
The Ombudsman naturally denied what the Chief Justice said. She said that the regular retirement benefit for a Supreme Court justice is 1.5 million pesos. She received less than half of what was supposed to be due her. So, she called the Chief Justice a "certified liar" in a phone interview and in a press conference held minutes after the Chief Justice said those things about her.
Note: Ombudsman - the word is of Swedish origin which means an official appointed to investigate complaints against maladministration especially that of public authorities. (source: Apple's Dictionary ver. 2.1.3)
2.4 Million Dollars.
The Chief Justice revealed that he has a total of 2.4 million US dollars in his dollar accounts. He did not however, declared this in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net worth (SALN) that is required of from all government officials by virtue of the SALN Law. His reason is the FCDU Law. The law guarantees absolute secrecy of dollar deposits. This seemingly conflicting laws poses a great problem. CORRUPT government officials will just hide their ill-gotten wealth in dollar deposits. If the Chief Magistrate of the land sees that there is no culpability in not including the dollar deposits in the SALN, then how can we expect real transparency in government?
Let's look at the Ombudsman. Does she have a dollar account and if so, did she include it in her SALN? In her press conference, she declared that she has one dollar account deposit and that she included it in her SALN.
Acquit or convict?
On Monday, 28 May 2012, oral arguments will be given by the prosecution and defense panels. After that, the Impeachment Court will decide on the case. What do you think will be the case resolution? Acquittal or conviction? We will find out soon enough.