The hall is packed with students and professors, seated on plastic chairs in messy rows. On the far end is a projector hooked up to a laptop, showing a video: senators explaining their votes. Chief Justice Corona’s trial is over, and it’s time to make a verdict. Everyone’s eyes are plastered to the white wall where the video plays on.
Uninterested students and unknowing freshmen pass by the open hall, wondering what all the trouble was for. People are coming in with bags of chips and bottles of soda. Twitter is refreshed every now and then, checked for updates from others where the stream isn’t lagging. A senator speaks; people nod in agreement, or comment with spite. He makes a decision—applause from the crowd!
People keep count of the votes.
Conviction. Acquittal. Abstain.
It’s Philippine Senate, and it’s always a public spectacle.
Tomorrow, the entire Chief Justice Corona trial will be recapped by BLAZE2013, at the Yuchengco Lobby of De La Salle University, same place where Hatol: Corona was streamed live today. They start at 9am and end at 5pm.
It is a good thing to see that people actually care about what’s happening. But it’s pretty disturbing that people are treating the trial like a sporting event. It’s almost comparable to American Idol, and after it’s been shown once, it will stream three times over on Star World.
I’m happy that people are interested in following through with this, and that they’d make an effort to pull their friends over. My only real fear is that it’ll turn into a fad–following with current affairs because everyone else is, not because they understood why it’s important. But I guess getting people interested, even in the slightest bit, in things like this is the first step. And whether or not they’d like to learn any further about it should be left to them.
Scarier than that, however, is that people seem to be taking sides on Corona’s trial based on this: convict if you hate Gloria, acquit if you hate Noynoy.
But yes, Philippine Senate can be its own public spectacle in a way. With all the Lito Lapid jokes and webcomics that have spawned themselves over the interwebs in the past month.
Lito Lapid counts for two votes: one for conviction and another for acquittal . . . Because, he’s Lito Lapid.
Or a better Lito Lapid joke:
Lito Lapid’s vote goes to . . . Jessica Sanchez!
Defensor speaks. Hilarity ensues!
If the senator is angry, the vote is for acquittal. If the senator apologizes, the vote is for conviction.
If the senator mentions his father, then his father must have been impeached during EDSA Revolution.
The Philippines has a history for political jokes. I apologize for nothing.
To keep you up to speed, the verdict on Renato Corona was as follows: 20 votes for conviction, and 3 votes for acquittal. This has been the first time in the history of Philippine governance that a Chief Justice, or anyone in government, to be convicted in impeachment court.
The three votes for acquittal include Sen. Arroyo, Sen. Defensor and Sen. Marcos.
Sen. Defensor’s speech was mostly her anger at the rest of the senate, trying to re-read and analyze the constitution like it was a piece of literature muddled with symbolism. To her, what was in print was clear: Corona technically didn’t do anything wrong. And in all her years of being a professor of the law, this is obvious. Are you kidding me, prosecution?
She said the right things in all the wrong ways. If law should be followed as it is, then Corona’s acquittal shouldn’t even have been a question.
But she did call the senate stupid.
And then she walked out when Lacson contested her.
Sen. Marcos, however, mentioned his father. Interesting how, of all people voting for Corona’s acquittal, it would be someone from an opposing party. Marcos, like Estrada, remembers his father’s trials and tribulations concerning the trust of the public. However Marcos, unlike Estrada, must really hate a government wherein Noynoy Aquino is hunting down his rivals. So you can guess which side he’s on, should the conspiracy be even the slightest bit real.
Ay, Corona, your supporters are suspicious people.
But isn’t it suspicious that Mar Roxas stepped down from candidacy for Aquino, even though Roxas was the bet of the public since 2004? Only because Aquino can ride on his mothers coattails and maximize the last of the Cory Magic, he could let him run and win in 2010. Then he’d go on to control his little puppet Aquino, while Roxas hides in a corner of the nearest palengke. Roxas and his party could be hunting down their enemies, if not twisting the words and figures on their cash reports, publicizing destructive things about them. And even though they couldn’t be impeached for corruption, they just have to run and hide and do nothing. And the men who used to support them that are currently elected officials can do nothing but agree with Aquino’s administration, because if not, they know they’d be next.
Ay, ay, ay, dangerous claims. Dangerous, dangerous conspiracies.
Don’t mind me.
Back to the topic at hand, Corona was convicted because Pia Cayetano was pretty and Allan Cayetano’s speech was confusing. His father had cancer, and so we have to get rid of the kanser ng lipunan ala Jose Rizal. Lito Lapid talked about his deficiencies in education, and thanked Corona.
He wasn’t convicted due to the talent of the prosecution to dig up dirt on him, but because of Corona’s own stupidity.
Coronavela: A Long and Winding Drama
The original claim of the prosecution was that Corona had a total of 10M-USD worth of deposits (about 450M-PHP), a claim backed up by various banking institutions. However, Corona only declared 3.5M-PHP in his 2010 SALN (Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth) .
In his defense, Corona said that he only had a total of 185M-PHP–but wait, I thought you said 3.5M?–because 105M-PHP of that was in dollar form: 2.4M-USD, an amount that, in a sense, shouldn’t be declared in the report because foreign currencies were to be kept confidential (by the foreign currency deposit unit laws) . The other 80M was money that he did not own completely–some of it was his wife’s, mother’s and children.
So the only thing that he really counted for that report was some 3.5M-PHP.
And I’m saying he did something stupid because he basically said it on national television that he hid funds from the report.
Though with good reason, he kind of killed his own chances.
See, the fact of the matter is, pretty much every one of these officials try to cut the number down to something much more believable, simply because it looks bad.
I’ve seen campaigns spend more money in dirty schemes and tricks–but since schemes and tricks are hidden, the money isn’t counted. What people watch are the candidates with big, expensive, long-running advertisements and wonder how much they’re worth. And then when they see the amount–oh my god, the money! As if these people never thought that of course they won’t go into campaign without funds. They actually do own big companies. Anyone who runs and wins in a national election is rich.
Small ads with big bribes win elections because you don’t wave your cash in front of a crowd of starving beggars.
And that’s why officials try their best to look poor. Naka-ligo ka na ba sa dagat ng basura? Solidarity with the poor is the only way to look like you’re not a self-serving shmuck. And trust me, it works. That’s why, despite the fact that everyone in that impeachment court has a nice business and good funds, they all try to find legal ways to hide the cash under the mattress.
The thing is, by rule of law, what they’re doing is pretty much okay. I don’t know why foreign currency is confidential, and why such a contradicting law as the FCDU is even applicable in the context of the SALN. But it’s there, and it doesn’t even have to be a loophole to be legal. The FCDU does say the foreign money doesn’t have to be declared, and when asked, the $2.4M seems to have a legit reason for being in his possession.
Whether or not that 2.4 really was legit, unstolen, hard-earned cash, we’ll never really, really, really know. It is kind of juvenile of Corona to play the Sick-Card–and whether that was true or an act, we will likewise never really know; ah, the great mysteries of life–but how do you speak only clear truth through lips that tremble in fear? It’s pressure. Huge pressure, crashing on him like a wave on a cliff in a bad storm.
He was a suspect under a hot spotlight, and nobody wanted to believe him. He could only do or say so much until the only option left is for him to run and hide.
Prosecution, however, stated that by hiding his extra fancy cash, it pretty much means he’s betraying public trust, which stands as sufficient reason for conviction.
In this sense, betraying public trust is re-translated thusly: You’re looking pretty pathetic now, so nobody thinks you can work properly.
But a rose is a rose is a rose. And undeclared millions are undeclared millions are undeclared millions.
Ergo, Renato Corona was not convicted for stealing money–he was convicted for not writing down the millions in his SALN. Genius.
So is he a thief? Is he corrupt? We weren’t able to find out because everyone was too noisy fist-pumping out in the rallies, and Corona was busy playing hospital. He’s just really rich, and he didn’t even tell us.
IMHO, Corona deserved to be acquitted not because he was proven entirely innocent, but because the impeachment court was unable to prove that he was guilty beyond reasonable doubt.
I’m saying, that trial was supposed to end inconclusively.
But it ended anyway, because it’s been forty-three days of trial, and it’s starting to waste everyone’s time. This third world country continues to starve, and we have to get on with our lives. The senators had to make a decision based on what they had. We can’t prove Corona truly guilty of graft and corruption, but by principle, his lack of transparency makes him untrustworthy. And that, in itself, is reason for him to be convicted.