MANILA, Philippines - Defense lawyers of Renato Corona on Wednesday criticized the House prosecution of breaking their ceasefire by launching a “media offensive” against the chief justice.
In a statement, defense spokesman Tranquil Salvador III took offense at the latest Social Weather Station (SWS) survey showing a majority believes Corona has hidden wealth and that many also want people power in case he will be acquitted.
“The timing of the release of this report is highly unfortunate. We are in a six-week Senate impeachment recess, and the camp of the Chief Justice has displayed sincerity for an impeachment ceasefire,” Salvador said.
He said the “media offensive” against Corona has always been in full force, citing the release of a “malicious media bombshell” about the alleged properties of Corona in the United States.
“Their sole purpose is to condition the mind of the public during the break and to give them something to chew on and discuss in the interim,” he said.
It was BusinessWorld which first released the SWS survey last Monday. BusinessWorld has exclusive rights to first publish some SWS surveys.
SWS President Mahar Mangahas also denied the defense team’s charges.
“SWS is not trying to influence or condition public opinion” and “neither is SWS trying to influence the senators in particular,” he said in an e-mail to BusinessWorld.
In an earlier text message, Corona said the SWS survey is part of “of the black propaganda and mind-conditioning. All of their so-called exposes are nothing more than black propaganda. Consider the false Land Registration Authority (LRA) list of 45 properties, the imaginary letter-writers to broadsheets, questionable characters expressing doubts on my academic credentials and this – the manipulated and contrived survey results.”
Not a reasonable indicator
The defense team also questioned the validity of the survey results. “We had just started the presentation of our evidence when the survey was taken so I don’t think that is a reasonable indicator of public opinion,” Salvador said.
Lawyer Karen Jimeno pointed out the people power test question. “The question whether the people would support people power in the event of a Senate acquittal tries to condition the minds of the people not to accept anything other than conviction.”
Defense lawyer Ramon Esguerra said: “The plan to take over the Supreme Court and oust the Chief Justice, if done, is sedition and may even constitute direct assault, both crimes under the Revised Penal Code. Where then is law and order that we as a people aspire for?”