Watching some senator-judges participate in the trial of CJ Renato Corona and the media spin after every trial, brings to mind the foreword of one educated Filipino novelist, F. Sionil Jose in his book:
“It is so easy to point out who the achievers are, as well as show who clearly how our society hoists the mediocre and the inane on pedestals. In this, the media are largely to blame, especially the talk show hosts on television and some editors of the entertainment and features sections. They pander to the crassest tastes.”
“Indeed, we have willingly relegated our sterling heroes in the attic where they are conveniently forgotten – the role models that could easily redeem us. And as for the non-entities, the phony nationalists, the crass poseurs on TV screens, and who are anointed with honors, we show them off like the heirlooms that adorn our living rooms, not realizing they are actually the termites that will eventually bring our house down”(Why We Are Poor, Solidaridad Publishing, 2005).
We have senators who are movie stars, ultra-rightist soldiers, journalists, businessmen, octogenarian lawyers and scions of traditional politicians. It was a tragedy that the people elected them to the office. Though some are courageous enough to look for the truth. People think that you deny CJ Corona due process of law if some Senators were bold enough to look for the truth and examine the documents of the prosecutors if indeed they bear relations into their allegations that the chief justice violated his oath of office.
In this chamber, where we try the Chief Justice, the filth of intellectual dishonesty was overpowering as the filth in the judiciary itself. The senators would flaunt their misplaced adherence to the rule of law and would give CJ Corona their concept of due process in derogation of the right of the people to put their officials under the microscope of public accountability and transparency. They are more protective of the interest of the jurist suspected of bribery and betrayal of public trust than give meaning to that sublime doctrine that the power belongs to the people and they can recall every government official they empowered to the highest office of the land for any wrongdoing. These senators wallow in their erudite concept of “presumption of innocence” as if the jurist has to lose his liberty if stripped of his office for which he does not have any birthright, but holds it only at the pleasure of the people. That instead of looking at the process as a sovereign exercise to examine the behavior of their officials, the distinguished Senators love to turn the table around and blamed the prosecutors for sloppy style, as if the imperfection in the language was fatal in the search of the people for the truth.
“Is CJ Corona A Thief or Did He Betray A Public Trust?” This is the ultimate quest.
The constitution and the canons of judicial ethics are clear on the level of standard of conduct expected of judicial officials — we cannot lower that standard under a misguided concept that pursuing it derogates Corona’s right to “due process of law.” We heard enough of the usual refrain that criminals have more right than the victims – we look now as if Corona was a criminal and give him more rights than the sovereign people’s right to be protected from their dishonest officials.
Impeachment is not to prove that CJ Corona is a criminal. It is a process to protect the office and remove the power-holder who betrayed the trust of the people. Betrayal of public trust is broader than the offenses defined and penalized under the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. Impeachable offenses may cover acts lesser in degree than those defined by the statutory laws as long as they fall under the broader concept of “betrayal of public trust.” This noble concept is lost on most Senators who preen their intellectual prowess or lack of it in front of TV cameras.
Here is a transcript of the debate on “betrayal of public trust” during the deliberations of the delegates to the 1987 Constitutional Convention, which I copied from Ms. Raissa Robles’s blog:
x x x
MR. ROMULO. I think, if I may speak for the Committee and subject to further comments of Commissioner de los Reyes, the concept is that this is a catchall phrase. Really, it refers to his oath of office, in the end that the idea of public trust is connected with the oath of office of the officer, and if he violates that oath of office, then he has betrayed the trust.”
MR. DE LOS REYES. The reason I proposed this amendment is that during the Regular Batasang Pambansa where there was a move to impeach then President Marcos, there were arguments to the effect that there is no ground for impeachment because there is no proof that President Marcos committed criminal acts which are punishable, or considered penal offenses. And so the term “betrayal of public trust,” as explained by Commissioner Romulo, is a catchall phrase to include all acts which are not punishable by statutes as penal offenses but, nonetheless, render the officer unfit to continue in office. It includes betrayal of public interest, inexcusable negligence of duty, tyrannical abuse of power, breach of official duty by malfeasance or misfeasance, cronyism, favoritism, etc. to the prejudice of public interest and which tend to bring the office into disrepute. That is the purpose, Madam President.“
The current debate on whether CJ Corona had betrayed a public trust was made far worst by TV hosts and media people whose only qualification to their job is their being able to speak straight English or modulate their Tagalog in front of TV cameras or behind radio microphones; never mind if they, like our Senators are also shallow and do not possess analytical minds.
Still in another arena, we have millions of netizens whose only claim to brilliance is their being able to smoke their keyboards and upload their horseshits online.
An efficient delivery of information does not always translate to citizens being well-informed, it can also result to their being terribly misinformed.
The giant realty developer gave the public two Supreme Court cases that it lost in the court, but I only found one, the case of Tanseco. I cannot find the Celerica case (MEGAWORLD GLOBUS ASIA, INC., vs. CELERICA HOLDINGS, INC., G.R. No. 175391), in which the said company was required to pay its adversary the amount of P14,000.00.
But Megaworld said that it lost about P47 million in these two cases
In Tanseco, Megaworld entered into a Contract to Buy and Sell 224 sq. meter condo unit in Salcedo Park, Makati, MM for P16.8 million with Tanseco. The buyer paid a total of P14.2 million. The balance of P2 million to be paid upon completion and delivery of the unit. Megaworld did not deliver the unit. Tanseco sued and recovered what she paid plus damages.
If the Celerica Holding case was about payment of P14 million by Megaworld to the plaintiff, then I can only assume that it could be another condo-unit that it has failed to deliver to another buyer.
Megaworld won a case which it was not supposed to win courtesy of CJ Corona, and lost two cases that it deserved to lose but the behemoth realty company would want us to draw a conclusion that it did not pervert justice with any promise, present or future discount on a condo purchase by any jurist. It prides itself of winning this one case fair and square.
But if one reads Megaworld vs. Judge Cobarde, it was clear that CJ Corona misapplied the law to excuse Megaworld from its liability to pay the two brokers the total amount of P25.1 million. In the two other cases, the SC not through Corona, (though he concurred in the result, reportedly) asked Megaworld to simply return the money it did not deserve to keep. But Megaworld used these cases as an argument that it did not benefit from a case it won when by law, it was supposed to lose.
Please observe that from year 2004 (Judge Cobarde case) , up to 2009, when the Tanseco case was promulgated, three cases of Megaworld always, by some stroke of fate, turned up in the division of CJ Corona. Call it luck or providential, but it gave you an eerie feeling that you can pick your judges to rule on your case. Ask veteran lawyers who know their way around and they will tell you that raffle of cases in the judiciary is a big joke.
Also, Megaworld would argue that other members of the division concurred with CJ Corona in the Cobarde case. The camaraderie in the division prevents dissension, and jurists would conform into the result more as a courtesy to the ponente than as a serious consideration of the law involved. If you find this surprising, you were not alone.
It is only when the Court sits en banc (composed of 3 different divisions) that you hear real arguments and spirited disagreements and dissensions.
Megaworld defends CJ Corona by telling the public that there was no special treatment (discount) to the jurist from his purchase of the Bellagio condo in 2008, as many can avail of the same price given to the jurist. But how many possess the power to void a clear duty to pay millions to his adversary? – I think not so many!