While I was watching CJ Corna’s testimony last Tuesday, I was one of those who was initially curious about what he had to say. For a while I also shared a few friends’ opinion that he should not be allowed to talk. But like many, we appreciated Senator Juan Ponce Enrile’s (JPE) position on the matter. For him it was in deference to the Chief Justice, for me it was public perception. I think that was necessary in order to cut thru the legal exchanges between the prosecution and the defense, which would have buried the impression we wanted to get out of CJ Corona.
In retrospect, I asked myself, did he do the right thing in his last Tuesday’s testimony? These are some things that Chief Justice Corona did not do right.
1. He was not on the level with his lawyers
Rene Corona did not disclose to all his lawyers his plans. In a statement with GMA-News, Sen. Drilon said that the defense team was disintegrating and that lead counsel Serafin Cuevas wanted to hold Jose Roy III in contempt. Could it be that Roy and Corona planned the whole Tuesday charade. If this was true, this is very unethical behavior on Roy’s part. This is one of the biggest mistakes of Rene Corona. Cuevas was doing well fighting ‘tooth-and-nail’ for him. A lawyer friend said, “I don’t think Cuevas would have agreed to that kind of ploy. He was already doing well with conducting the defense in the legal arena.”
2. He dared to fight in the realm of public opinion
If I may borrow Boy Montelibano’s words in his article, he said, “Rene Corona forgot a simple marketing principle - that the one without credibility cannot be the main instrument to raise his credibility.” He should have stayed where he was doing well. His lawyers were putting up a good front in defending him in spite of the evidences presented against him. He cannot change the deluge of opinion makers in just one
3. Wrong drama
The waiver he presented was conditional. He submitted it initially with the condition the all 188 congressmen plus Sen. Drilon sign a waiver as well. Today, CJ Corona submitted the waiver just when the defense and the prosecution submitted and closed their arguments for ruling rendering the waiver useless. It seems apparent that this submission was just for show in hopes to seemingly appear
transparent. This would have been good if he submitted it earlier.
4. The Walkout
The biggest blunder CJ Corona committed was the walk out. By this action, he showed to the world that he has no respect for the senate impeachment trial. CJ Corona may have returned to the senate today to present his excuse but the whole country will never forget the walkout that the Chief Justice had done.
The walkout said much to me. It showed the kind of leader that CJ Corona is. It showed a leader who seeks entitlement. When he walked out as he said, “Your Chief Justice wants to be excused.” It sounded to me like he said, ‘I am the chief justice and you have no right to question me.’ This is apparent in the strategy they took in a narrative testimony in order to avoid cross-examination.
He is the type of leader who wants to be exempted from the laws. It is ironical that he is the Chief Justice that does not want to uphold justice. This is apparent in the way he has been evasive in presenting evidences. Until the last moment, he did not present substantial evidence that he did not have 12.5 million dollars as oppose to the AMLC documented evidence.
Sen. Franklin Drilon asked him why he did not declare assets and liabilities in his SALN. He said, ‘I am not too familiar with the debit and credit.’ CJ Corona taught in Ateneo Law School, he is a Chief Justice. I find his excuses difficult to believe.
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Jess Lorenzo is currently the program director of Kaya Natin! Movement
for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership's public health initiatives.
www.kayanatin.org @kayanatin on Twitter