Reality Check. 5 pm. 28 May 2012. Monday.
FInal arguments are in.
The prosecution and defense panels have made their final arguments. I was expecting a real "argument" - compelling points that will sway the minds of the Senator Judges. I thought that if any dramatics or theatrics are to be employed, they should have been shown here, just like in the movies. Well, this is real life, and I must say, for a person who followed this impeachment trial from Day 1, the speeches were repetitive and lackluster. What I saw and heard were mere recountings and pleadings. The closest to what I have earlier played in my mind was the "question and answer", a seemingly debate between prosecution's Representative Rodolfo Farinas and Defense's Attorney Dennis Manalo, in the second part of each panel's closing arguments.
If I were a Senator Judge and after listening to their closing arguments, will I be for conviction or acquittal? Let me first provide you the logic behind my decision. Let me first make my case, so to speak.
Conflict between the FCDA / Bank Secrecy Law and the SALN Law.
Is there any conflict at all? There's none. The FCDA (Foreign Currency Deposit Act) protects an individual with foreign currency deposits from third parties prying into the deposit accounts unless an expressed waiver to the said law is given by the owner of the accounts. Since the public official, in this case, the Supreme Court Chief Justice, is required by the law through the SALN (Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net worth), to disclose everything he owns, this should include ALL deposits. Chief Justice Renato Corona did not include his 2.4 Million U.S. Dollars in his SALN citing the FCDA's provision for absolute secrecy.
He is NOT a third party to the account. He owns the account. He should have converted his U.S. Dollar deposits into Pesos, totaled his assets, and declared ALL of it in his SALN.
The law applies to all.
One Supreme Court employee was discharged from his post because he forgot to disclose in his SALN one small market stall he owns. Should we overlook the 2.4 Million U.S. Dollars not declared in the SALN of the Chief Justice just because he interprets the FCDA in a way that prohibits him to disclose a bulk of his assets? I find this is absurd!
There were other cases of government employees suspended, put to jail, or discharged from posts because of their failure to accurately declare their assets in the SALN. You be the judge. Is this fair?
Of course there are more things "alleged" in the impeachment complaint such as machinations in the Supreme Court in granting the former President Arroyo the temporary restraining order against the hold departure order powers of the Department of Justice when she tried to go out of the country; the influences of the Chief Justice in court decisions favoring his family members; the flip-flop decisions in order to favor allies; and many others.
These are all important but what stuck in my mind and made a great impact is the nondisclosure of his U.S. Dollar deposits. This is what really ticked me off. If there is nothing to hide, why did he NOT declare it?
Therefore, this is my answer to my previous question, "If I were a Senator Judge and after listening to their closing arguments, will I be for conviction or acquittal?": at least for Article 2 of the Impeachment Complaint (i.e., Failed to disclose to the public his statement of assets, liabilities, and net worth as required under the Constitution.), my judgment is for CONVICTION.
Here is my "fearless forecast" of what the Senator Judges may vote for in Article 2. This is just my opinion. This is based on my observations and does not in any way constitute anything related to the Senator Judges. This is just for Article 2. There are 3 articles that the judges will vote on. There are 23 Senator Judges. There has to be 16 votes for a conviction. Only 8 votes are needed to exonerate the Chief Justice.