How short our memories are. It was Sen. Franklin Drilon who fired the opening salvo of this regime’s assault against Chief Justice Renato Corona. When the idea of taking out the Chief Justice had seemed too reckless a campaign for President Aquino to undertake, it was Drilon who launched the attack.
Drilon issued on Nov. 28, 2011 a widely circulated press release, using the Senate’s stationery, entitled “Drilon: Corona voted in favor of Arroyo in all 19 cases brought before the Supreme Court.” It was the most comprehensive—even if fallacious—brief alleging the Chief Justice’s bias for former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Before that, Mr. Aquino could only whine against Corona, with no understandable, specific accusations against him.
Drilon’s accusations were obviously another exercise of that conviction-by-publication tack that has been the weapon of choice of Aquino’s camp. The cases he mentioned in which Corona allegedly voted “for Arroyo” were those which were either unanimous or majority decisions of the justices. If Corona had dissented in those decisions, he should have been rightly impeached—for losing his nuts or stupid grandstanding.
That Drilon was simply utilizing the Nazi propaganda technique of repeating a lie again and again—19 times in this case—is obvious in that in one case he cited, Corona voted with the rest of the Supreme Court justices to dismiss communist-affiliated groups’ plea to junk the VAT reform law. Drilon claimed Corona favored Arroyo here, as it was “Arroyo’s VAT law.”
Despite the ridiculousness of Drilon’s charges in that press release, that storyline would be mindlessly repeated again and again by the lynch mob’s wordsmiths. Isn’t that enough proof that Drilon is too biased to be a judge in Corona’s trial?
Drilon’s being a judge in the Supreme Court is exactly the case when somebody accuses you of a crime, and even goes to the press about it, and then you find that this somebody is the judge in your trial. Is that fair?
Drilon’s rescue of that incompetent but arrogant private prosecutor last week merely confirmed that he is too biased against the Chief Justice to be a judge in the trial.
If the Senate is to be on a moral ground as high as the Supreme Court, whose head it is impeaching, it must do what the justices have been routinely doing, which is to inhibit themselves if there is any doubt that they could be biased in the cases before them.
Corona and Justice Antonio Carpio inhibited themselves in the case which decided that Arroyo’s appointment of the Chief Justice was constitutional. Carpio inhibited himself from the Hacienda Luisita case since his firm, the Villaraza, Cruz, Marcelo and Angangco Law Offices was counsel of Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. which got involved in the case since it purchased 500 hectares of Hacienda Luisita.
Mr. Aquino even declared that the assault against Corona is the Liberal Party’s “brightest moment.” Drilon is the party’s former president, its senior leader, and its strategist.
I believe though that Drilon is decent and fair enough to inhibit himself from the trial. His being a judge in a case in which he is the accuser would taint the integrity of the Senate as a court, and therefore whatever its decision would be on Corona. When he made his charges against Corona in November, he probably didn’t think that there would be an impeachment trial. But he cannot have his cake and it eat too.
Honestly, can Drilon look straight at his peers’ eyes and claim he is an unbiased judge?
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What Mr. Aquino says is the Liberal Party’s “brightest moment”—Corona’s impeachment—could be one of our nation’s, and the Philippine press’, darkest episodes. The Aquino camp, with the help of the press, has shamelessly been inciting the modern version of a lynch mob against Corona, hoping he would knuckle under the pressure and just resign, as an impeachment trial could absolve him, and everyone would then be looking askance at the President and asking, “What was that all about, Hacienda Luisita?”
Consider the facts.
The case against Corona had been, as Drilon’s Nov. 28 press release expounded, his alleged bias for Arroyo evidenced by his votes in many Supreme Court decisions. In fact, this was the gist of the House’s Article 1, the most important allegation for the impeachment.
When this hardly made exciting news, Mr. Aquino’s forces quickly changed tack to the headline-hogging charges of corruption. This paper’s Jan. 4 banner headline screamed: “Corona penthouse bared.” On Jan. 8 the headline said: “CJ can’t afford condos.” On Jan. 13: “45 Corona assets eyed.” On Jan. 14: “Corona assets worth P200M.” On Jan. 20: “CJ SALNs undervalued.” Corona’s denials of course never made banner headlines.
In a matter of weeks, the narrative was no longer his bias for Arroyo, but that he should be removed for graft, even if the impeachment accusation was not on this but on his “failure to disclose his SALN.” Now the Senate may have to call in accountants and property brokers to debate on the proper valuation of Corona’s properties. Now everyone in the mob rushed to throw his or her own stone: Jan. 1 banner: “UST ‘breaks rules’ for CJ.” Jan. 15: “WB: Loan to SC high risk.”
With the latest headline the other day—“Vizconde to testify vs Chief Justice”—they are shamelessly throwing everything but the kitchen sink against Corona. What next? “Corona behind Maguindanao Massacre?” “Ramgen’s mom accuses Corona”?