Corona’s contemptible performance

Like millions of others, I was glued to the television the other day watching Chief Justice Renato Corona testify in his own impeachment trial.

Everything about last Tuesday was dramatic. First, there was his refusal to take the stand. He then relented and agreed to testify after the Ombudsman had detailed Anti-Money Laundering Council documents indicating that the chief justice had at least $12 million in various accounts. Prior to last Tuesday, his counsels and talking heads assured the public that Corona would “tell all” and would expose the malice of the individuals who falsely testified against him.

On the day itself, there was a meticulous script acted out by “B” actors, who now deserve acting awards. There was the traditional mass officiated by religious leaders closely identified with former President Gloria Arroyo, the usual illegal mass action by court officials and employees, and even a hero’s send-off for the embattled Corona.

At the Senate itself, the script was literally visible: a couple of pages of a monologue read out by Corona himself, a major deviation from ordinary court proceedings where witnesses are never allowed to deliver opening statements. This was a very carefully written script. Its writers knew that the opus would be allowed by a court that has repeatedly declared that it would respect the magistrate if and when he takes the stand. More importantly, its writers knew that the people would be watching.

And boy, what a show it turned out to be!

The scripted monologue itself was pathetic. Not only was it very poorly written, it was also bereft of the truth that Corona promised the nation. Half of it was mud thrown at the President, Ronald Llamas, and even Franklin Drilon. The other half was about the dirty laundry of the Basas.  Was Corona unmindful that his own children and wife were members of the same clan? The Senate President repeatedly asked him if he was finished, but he went on with his litany on matters, which were irrelevant and immaterial. And when he finally addressed the issue leveled against him by the Ombudsman, he resorted to a negative pregnant: the Ombudsman was lying but he admits having dollar deposits which according to him, are absolutely confidential and need not be declared in his SALN.

Prior to his appearance, a little known employee of the BIR, of all agencies, which the chief justice himself quoted in his monologue, opined that dollar deposits do not have to be disclosed in the SALN.

After which, he resorted to a conditional waiver of the secrecy of his dollar and pesos deposits, which takes effect only if and when the 188 congressmen who voted to impeach him and Franklin Drilon sign similar waivers. Talk of a cheap trick!

And after an excruciating two hours of vilification and self-pontification, he states that he is the chief justice of the Republic and leaves the stand.

I still can’t decide which was more offensive: his litany of mud or his walkout. I ask this because he is not just a very high official sought to be removed from his office. He is the chief justice if the land and as such, should personify the prestige and dignity of the legal profession. By resorting to mudslinging at the stand, Corona broke all rules of evidence that were developed over time to ascertain precisely the truth of controverted matters. And by walking out, he has shown contempt not only for the Senate sitting as an impeachment court, but to the rule of law itself, which as chief justice, he should be the first to uphold. If his departure were really for medical reasons, why did he not ask for leave of court? That would have been easy and would certainly have been granted on humanitarian grounds. It does not help that he was captured on camera clearly intent on leaving the Senate on cue. Clearly, what he and his advisers did not anticipate was that the Senate President would order the lock-out of the Senate to prevent him from leaving.

As I write this, it has become apparent that the chief justice will not return to the Senate as he is reportedly in the intensive care unit. I do not question his state of health as that is now between him and his creator. What I condemn is his performance that degraded the legal profession and eroded the people’s trust in the rule of law.

At the very least, Corona has proven to all that he does not deserve to remain as chief justice!


28 comments on “Corona’s contemptible performance

  1. dan norman says:

    Amen Harry. Superbly written commentary. It is time for a new era, new faces and a new commitment on the part of the Philippines judiciary from top to bottom. Without a judiciary with integrity, nothing else the country does will matter. God bless us all. Dan Norman

  2. vir lauzon says:

    Prof, it’s a Carlo Caparas fantasy story produced by Regal Shocker…

  3. In my book, he does not even deserve to be member of the bar!
    Oscar M. Leus, Esq.

  4. Mon says:

    This is the best synopsis of the impeachment drama so far, entertaining, intelligent.

  5. tongueinanew says:

    How will the legal profession now save the Judiciary in the light of this unbelievable display of incompetence, to lightly put it, from no less than the judicial capo de tutti capi? What do you think is the best next move after he is convicted and removed?

  6. ricky a. pollo says:

    Truly such a sour performance. It merely served to higlight to the public what kind of magistrate Corona is. Uninteligible. He cannot even prepare a good brief for himself. If your read SC decisions written by the present day Supreme Court, youl be surprised of how poorly written and at time obiviously erroneous argumentation bordering on the deliberate. Certainly, while for those who loves drama would like to appreciate such a move, for those thining masses its certainly poor taste. He deserves the humiliation. To me rather than being a hero he merely embarassed himself. And I dont understand SC employees supporting such kind of a Justice. Makes me puke (nasusuka) on the face of the Supreme Courts holy ground.

  7. wez says:

    I remember he said at the end of his monologue “I am no fool”.. I take that to mean I’m not fool to let you cross examine me. And then he walks away thinking he can leave just like that.. Does he even think of the consequences of his actions? What he just did is more foolish. Ngayon ang sabi babalik daw sa friday. Well, abangan ang susunod na kabanata

  8. Melchor A. Talacay says:

    Ano ba naman iyan, imbes na patunayan na wala siyang kasalalanan e wala namang ginawa kundi ang manisi ng manisi. Wala naman siyang pinatunayan sa kanyang dollar account. Ang sabi ni Ombudsman ang kanyang dollar account ay nagsimula sa isa atumabot sa 82 at ito ay hindi naman niya tahasang pinabulaanan ito. Ang sabi niya lang ay sarado na ang karamihan dito at apat na lang ang natitira. ke iisa ang natira diyan angpinag-uusapan dito ang laman ng dollar account. Nang siya ay lumabas ng korte, malakas pa siya sa kalabaw at nang hindi makatakas biglang nagkasakit. Kung talagang may sakit, bakit kailangan mamili ng ospital e ang daming malapi. Dahil ba ang kanyang manugang at biyenan ni sipsip Midas ay nasa Medical City? Nagtatanong lang.

  9. Marlo B. Figueroa says:

    brilliant commentary.. meticulously written.. thank you…

  10. lex adonis says:

    What Corona now is what he made himself during his defense not being interrogated even a peanut vendor. What is worst is that some of his relatives even thumbs down what the chief justice told via scripted letters, before the listening and viewing public audiences all throughout the world.

  11. aaron legaspi says:

    Sir Harry don’t forget that Renato can still appeal to the SC in case he is convicted. There are still 7 or 8 justices of Team Gloria who can block the decision of the Impeachment Court. Maritess Vitug is correct ang daming corrupt sa SC and may I add na lalo na sa CA at RTC.

    • harryroque says:

      No appeal from a decision of the impeachment court. He can only go up on certiorari alleging grave abuse of discretion. Super labo ito


  12. It’s a desperate effort by Corona that has used up almost all of its serious ammunition fighting off an impeachment battle and is now reduced to carrying on with only wooden sword and paper hat. This is likely a caveat to the avarice parachuted on the helm.

  13. Guiller Briones says:

    Had the Senate President failed to order the lockout of the senate building, CJ could have easily went out as his vehicles were already parked. And had the CJ have easily went out, then that would be the end of it all, beacuse clearly from his words and actions there’s no intention to be cross examined and subject himself to be on the spot as what he had told in his 3 long hours monologue would definiteley explode in his face. YUNG WHEELCHAIR EKSENA AND THEN SUBSEQUENT PAGKAKASAKIT AND CONFINEMENT IN THE ICU ay ginawa na lang dahil hindi umubra ang plano. Now i don;t know what kind of minds senators have if they acquit him

  14. judgemdjs says:

    Amen, Amen I say to you, my brothers: as mandated by the Sovereign people in Art. XI, Sec 1 of the Constitution, PUBLIC OFFICE IS A PUBLIC TRUST. Public officers and employees must at all times be accountable to the people… I concur with Mr. Aaron Legaspi and Ms Marites Vitug that there is a need to purge the judiciary of corruption, incompetence and injustices. There are corrupt justices and judges, prosecutors and lawyers plying their trade in our halls of JUSTICE. I’ve personally seen and confronted this reality, and I’ve carried on a lonely struggle all these years as a judge. It is hoped that the impeachment of CJ Corona shall usher in the new age of accountabilty of public officers to the Sovereign People and to the SUPREME JUDGE!

  15. annie says:

    HARRY ROQUE FOR SENATOR for he sees things clearly with not only strong legal & common sense but of what is right from wrong!

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