Let’s see if retired Associated Justice Serafin Cuevas, the lead defense counsel of impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona, can slither out of this one.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported Cuevas claiming that Malacanan was pressuring him to quit as Corona’s lawyer. He said he was being harrassed by the BIR and that an emissary from Malacanan approached him asking him to quit
Cuevas denied he said anything of the sort in an interview with radio station dzBB.
“Walang pressure ang Malacañang sa akin, walang pinapadalang tao, di totoo yan, walang katotohanan yan,” Cuevas told dzBB.
In response to Cuevas’ denial, PDI published a transcript of their interview where Cuevas made his allegation.
How did you come in as a Corona lawyer?
Ilang beses ako tinawagan dito, eh, siguro 2-3 linggo, ayaw ko pahagilap, ayaw ng mga bata, ayaw rin ni misis, masigalot eh, matinik ang kaso, kalaban mo Malacañang, eh.
Ngayon lang. Meron kaming building sa West Avenue. Dalawang building magkatapat na ganiyan. Eh, ’yong aming administrator do’n ipinasa-submit ’yong aming income, ’yong kuwan ganito. Eh, bakit ngayon lang? Ang tagal tagal na no’n. ’Di ba isa ’yan?
Building na loan?
Building na paupahan. Six units. Ang isang unit eh three units each. P15,000 a month ’yan. All right.
Pinapa-submit po ’yong?
Pinasa-submit ’yong book of account, lahat lahat, kung anu-ano tinatanong…
Eh, hindi natin alam, it must have something to do with this…Ngayon lang, ’yong aming, ’yong sa Manila Bank, sabi sa ’kin ni Lani, sir, tinatanong nila kung magkano binabayad ng Manila Bank sa inyo dati. Ganito. Sa kaso na ’to. Why? Why all of a sudden ngayon lang?
Parang may konting harassment?
Hindi lang konti, mabigat na ’yan. I don’t know what will follow next.
Ano ’yong nakikita n’yo ro’n sa impeachment?
Siyempre chilling effect ’yan siguro. Baka naman hindi alam ni Presidente, baka naman ’yong gusto lang mag-magaling sa kaniya, pinakikitang oo, ganito, gano’n.
What do they hope to achieve? May makakalkal na baho or something?
Ang gusto nila mag withdraw ako eh. (Cuevas pauses, dials a number). Napakadali gumawa ng pami-merhuwisyo, eh, maski sa income tax lamang and so on, lahat.
Nung mag-argue ako ng case ni Ombudsman Merceditas, ilang BIR nandyan, tatlo. Sabi ko, “Brod, pagbutihin niyo sana ’yan, ha. Dahil alam naman ninyo, ang buhay ganoon lang. Today you are up, tomorrow you may be down…” Recently lang. Kung ano man ang kuwan niyan, pagkatapos, eh, kung ano mangyari diyan, kung hindi naman tama, pagbutihin niyo lang, inexamine lahat ng books, mga kung anu-ano, mga kliyente, na-scare ’yong clients siyempre. (Corona pauses, talks with his secretary.)
Who wants you to withdraw po?
Emisaryo daw ng Malacañang…I know him to be with Malacañang. I’m not very sure whether he’s authorized or he is doing it himself. ’Di ba nakalagay na sa peryodiko? Tapos sinabi nag withdraw na nga ako?
Was the name mentioned?
Kung ibibigay ko sa iyo ’yong pangalan, baka naman mapagalitan ito, sabihing ganito-ganito…Estudyante ko ’yan before…He was convincing me before na mag-join ng campaign.
Ano s’ya sa Malacañang?
Nando’n siya sa pangkat ng rah-rah boys, eh.
So siya ’yong nagsasabi sa inyo? Ano ’yong sinasabi niya po? Ano ’yong mga sinasabi niya specifically?
Eh pinagkukuwan…parang ang gusto raw ni Presidente, kung maaari, i-bargain ako do’n sa kaso ni Colonel…’Di nila itutuloy ’yong kaso, provided I withdraw, eh, hindi ko naman pi-nallow up ’yon, eh. In the first place, hindi na ako…ayoko nang…basta sige na lang…
Anong kaso po ’yon?
’Yong si…sa NBI…
’Yong kay Gatdula?
So confirmed ’yon? Kaya nila sinibak because you did not accede?
Hindi naman, hindi naman…Hindi ko sinasabing…’yon nga hahawakan ko pa…hindi pa kami nagkakausap…’yon ang ibina-bargain… Alam po ninyo, ’wag nang ipagpatuloy iyon at maintain na siya sa NBI…Mag withdraw na ’ko. Hindi naman ako nakipag-usap kay Presidente…hindi naman na ’ko nakipag-usap sa kuwan…Dito lang sa ano…Ayoko nang dagdagan pa…I do not want to add credence to that kuwan.
Dahil Iglesia rin si Gatdula?
So who is lying, Cuevas or PDI?
You be the judge.
All I can say is Cuevas and Corona are made for each other.
The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits – Albert Einstein
Before yesterday’s hearing, I thought I had the defense strategy figured out: Tie the hands of the prosecution; block the submission of evidence by raising legal technicalities; confuse the public with legal gobbledygook; and distract everybody with the hairdo of Justice Cuevas. I figured wrong. I didn’t see the secret weapon of the defense: a remote control device to activate the motor mouth of lead prosecutor Iloilo Representative Niel Tupas.
Less talk, less mistake! Hasn’t anybody told Tupas that?
His fellow Ilonggo Sen. Miriam Santiago lent him a hand when he was being pummeled by defense counsel Cuevas. She reminded the court that they needed to be liberal with accepting evidence so that the ugly outcome of the Estrada impeachment which was caused by strict interpretation of the law would not be repeated. That should have been that. Tupas should have thanked Miriam for her unsolicited assistance. But no. He had to open his mouth and make a manifestation that implied Senator Juan Ponce Enrile was partial to the defense.
“Dugay man ka dinhi sa Maynila kay tonto ka pa man gihapon.” Niel cannot even spell Neil correctly. I don’t know what it is with the fifth congressional district of Iloilo but the man who preceded Niel as representative was a man named Rolex. But in fairness to Niel, he is not alone. There is an epidemic of stupidity.
Court spokesman Midas Marquez bragged that lawyers de campanilla were defending Corona for free, pro bono in legal parlance, and the defense lawyers proudly claimed that they were doing it out of principle. Stupid.
Human rights lawyer Rene Saguisag pointed out that Corona is violating judicial ethics by accepting free legal assistance:
“Rule 5.04 of the Canons of Judicial Ethics says judges shall not accept a gift or favor from anyone. My humble submission is that wealthy and powerful CJ Rene may not accept free legal services from lawyers as these comprise a gift or favor. Utang na loob to be repaid in the form of favorable or sympathetic rulings. No lawyer is helping Rene for free just because he is such a nice guy. He or his firm may have cases at every level and association with the CJ would not harm at this point. Amor con amor se paga.“
Then there are those miron lawyers who are asking the Supreme Court to stop Corona’s trial because the House of Representatives committed “grave abuse of discretion.” They argue that the Supreme Court has the power and the duty to “determine whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the Government” under Art VIII Sec. 1 of the Constitution. Checks and balances to insure due process daw. But the same Constitution also says, “The House of Representatives shall have the exclusive power to initiate all cases of impeachment” and “The Senate shall have the sole power to try and decide all cases of impeachment.”
Lawyers can argue those provisions until the end of the world or until Cuevas gets a new hairstylist, whichever comes first, but the question that matters to non-lawyers is, why is the Supreme Court being asked to decide on the constitutionality of a trial whose outcome has a direct bearing on the Chief Justice?
An earlier Congress was shortsighted enough to submit to the Supreme Court’s decision in the impeachment of Chief Justice Hilario Davide. It surrendered its exclusive power to initiate impeachment. Now we have to live with that Court’s tortured explanation of what initiating an impeachment complaint means. And all that Court wanted was to save Davide from a second and stronger impeachment complaint.
Now I’m not saying that those Arroyo-appointed justices will issue a TRO to protect their chief. They could dismiss the TRO petition. But that’s not the point. The thing is it’s stupid to even imagine that the rule of law and the system of checks and balances will somehow benefit from a lawsuit that asks justices to decide on a case involving their chief. The credibility of the institution rests on the perception that its decisions are impartial, objective, and fair. How, in this particular case, can the Court come up with a decision that will meet such criteria? Sentido comun por favor.
Everybody has a right to be stupid but that does not mean they have a right to abuse that right.
Also in Interaksyon
Edcel Lagman was replaced by Danilo Suarez as minority leader in the House. Lagman was understandably pissed. He resigned from the Lakas-Kampi party which he chaired.
- “I cannot continue to associate politically with some opposition members who are closely linked and beholden to the former President so much so that they succumb to the importuning of a patron. I cannot allow the Minority to lose its credibility and independence by becoming a mere mouthpiece of the former President.”
Lagman and Suarez signed a term sharing agreement. Lagman insists the agreement was limited to the speakership. Suarez insists it covered leadership of the Gloria bloc since neither could win the speakership. It was a stalemate. Suarez went to the hospital where Gloria is detained and got her blessing. So Suarez is now the leader of the 29-member opposition bloc.
Now why fight over leadership of 29 members? Well, the minority leader has some powers too, like the power to appoint minority members to juicy committees, among other things.
But Lagman was doing a good job as minority leader so why did Gloria overthrow him? Why cause a division in the pitiful minority?
I think there were other forces at work here. Lagman is the face of the RH Bill that the Catholic Church vehemently opposes. The Catholic Church’s support for Gloria remains steadfast. Their attacks against Pres. Aquino’s campaign to hold Gloria and her cohorts accountable have been relentless. And so…
Gloria needs all the help she can get and if punishing poor Edcel is the price, then so be it. The support of ever-loyal SUV-loving bishops is more important than the voice of one man in a 29-member minority bloc.
Just because you got the monkey off your back doesn’t mean the circus has left town. – George Carlin
Gloria Arroyo wrote in the intro to her three- thousand word rant against President Aquino, “I wrote this article (It’s the economy, student) on and off in my spare time during my house recuperation, re-hospitalization and hospital detention from October to December 2011.”
Mukha nga. That’s why Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda dismissed it as “a political manifesto disguised as an economic paper” presented at “a press briefing masquerading as a colloquium.”
Ping Galang of GMA News online observed, “Only media representatives were present and no panel of experts probed deeper into the former president’s thesis.”
He added, “If indeed the released material will form part of a memoir she is reportedly writing, then Mrs. Arroyo will need to do a more careful review of her facts so that her forthcoming work will not be ignored by the market and give the city trash collectors a problem in deciding whether it is recyclable or not.”
How Gloria could make such a grim assessment of the Aquino administration following upgrades from credit ratings agencies; optimistic reports from Bank of America Merrill Lynch; HSBC Global Research; the 2012 Index of Economic Freedom by the Washington-based The Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal; and positive assessments from Dr. Dante B. Canlas, Mrs. Arroyo’s Socioeconomic Planning Secretary and NEDA (National Economic and Development Authority) Director-General, and Cesar Virata, former finance minister of Marcos, is beyond comprehension.
Luckily, there is someone who loves to explain the incomprehensible: Gloria’s ubiquitous mouthpiece, Elena Bautista Horn.
She said, “Maybe because she has time and she’s alarmed by what’s happening, and she’s an economics professor.” Ganun? Siguro nga Gloria is alarmed because what’s happening is her escape attempt was foiled and she is now detained at the Veteran’s Memorial Hospital, her husband and some of their Cabinet appointees are facing criminal raps, retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan is on the lam, former Comelec chief Benjamin Abalos is in a holding cell in Pasay City, former AFP comptroller Gen. Carlos Garcia is serving time in the New Bilibid prison, Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez resigned after being impeached, and Chief Justice Renato Corona is being tried at the Senate for betrayal of public trust, graft and corruption, and culpable violation of the constitution.
Sadly, Gloria can only see the “politics of division” and “vilification” in everything that’s happening. “The gains achieved by previous administrations – mine included – are being squandered in an obsessive pursuit of political warfare meant to blacken the past and conceal the dark corners of the present dispensation. Rather than building on our nation’s achievements, this regime has extolled itself as the sole harbinger of all that is good,” she said.
In other words, “Lying, cheating, and stealing are better for the economy and the well-being of the nation than Daan Matuwid.”
Embattled Chief Justice Renato Corona’s rant is just as skewed. He blames three people for his predicament.“Malaki akong hadlang sa mga nagnanais na hindi maipamahagi ang lupain sa Hacienda Luisita. Malaki din akong hadlang sa nagmamadaling maging bise-presidente ngunit talo noong 2010. At huwag na tayong lumayo: Malaki din akong hadlang sa matagal nang nag-aambisyong maging Chief Justice. Sila pong tatlo ang nagsasabwatan para mapatalsik ako sa pwesto,” he claims.
But Chief, was it not the Department of Agrarian Reform under President Aquino that pushed for and argued before the Supreme Court the distribution of land to tenants in Hacienda Luisita? Remember what you said regarding the power of the President over his Cabinet? No? Well here, let me remind you. You said, “Ibang-iba po ang palakad sa gabinete, sapagka’t doon, lahat ng miyembro ay mga alalay, alagad at utusan ng pangulo. Sa loob ng gabinete ang utos ng hari hindi nababali.” So now let me ask you, “Kung lahat ng miyembro ng gabineta ay alalay, alagad at utusan ng pangulo at ang utos ng hari hindi nababali, hindi ba mas madali para sa pangulo na utusan na lang niya ang Department of Agrarian Reform na huwag ng ipaglaban na maipamahagi ang lupain ng Hacienda Luisita? Bakit pa niya pahahabain ang istorya hanggang impeachment kung kaya na niyang tapusin ang kaso sa DAR pa lamang?”
But what is even more bothersome is your second statement. “Malaki din akong hadlang sa nagmamadaling maging bise-presidente ngunit talo noong 2010.” There is an election protest case pending before the Supreme Court and you just confessed to partiality because you described yourself as an obstacle and even declared the protesting candidate a loser already. Grabe! You can be charged with partiality complexed with stupidity for making such an admission. Finally what made you think the president will appoint someone from the Court if you get impeached? Anyway, that’s why I don’t eat peas.
In the end, the litmus test of an impeachment is policy-oriented: will the people and the nation be better served by retaining or by ousting impeached officials? Impeachment belongs to the people, not to lawyers. – former Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban
It is the position of the current Board of Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) that the impeachment of Chief Justice Corona undermines judicial independence.
“If the Chief Justice can be validly impeached for collegial decisions (including pending cases) for “political bias” and hauled to the Senate to undergo the rigors of political trial, all by a mere stroke of 1/3 signatures of the House gathered in blitz, then the Supreme Court will never be the same again, its judicial independence defanged, and its magistrates—including their decisions—now at the mercy of the political bidding, if not power plays, of the ruling House majority and the President.” (Italics courtesy of IBP)
Good googly moogly! Does the IBP want to amend the Constitution and increase the threshold for impeachment to more than 1/3 of the House? Does it want to eliminate stroking by replacing signatures with some other form of voting like yelling, clapping or booing? And what the hell is “gathered in blitz”, is that a pun? Maybe the IBP was only trying to be cute because everything else in their 85-word sentence does not make them look good. Nor does it help their argument that impeaching Corona is bad policy.
The IBP’s expression of deep concern over Corona’s impeachment suggests that they believe the Supreme Court was the paragon of independence during Gloria Arroyo’s regime. Did they not suspect partiality or subservience in collegial decisions ranging from EO 464 to creating a congressional district that paved the way for Dato Arroyo’s political ambitions to Corona’s midnight appointment? And what is the IBP’s appraisal of the status quo ante orders on the impeachment of Merci Gutierrez and the firing of Gloria’s midnight appointees and the TRO on the Watchlist Order on Gloria and Mike Arroyo, do they want that kind of rule of law from an independent Supreme Court to continue forever?
Is it good policy to acquit Chief Justice Renato Corona? It is if you don’t believe that a majority in the Supreme Court has been servile to Gloria Arroyo. But if you believe otherwise, then you must remove Corona.
Why single out Corona? Because Gloria Arroyo singled him out. Because she chose him from all the justices who were willing and had proven themselves to be worthy of her trust. Because she went through a lot of trouble just so she would have a legal basis to appoint him as the Court’s major-domo. Why wouldn’t you single out the man that she singled out?
Two things that the senator-judges must do: first, memorize the words of former Chief Justice Panganiban at the top of the page and second, heed the advice of a philosophy professor, “justice must resolve a conflict in a way that leaves the community whole.”
Also in INTERAKSYON.COM
Here’s something you shouldn’t do if your surname sounds like the Spanish word for “TUTA.”
From ABS-CBN. NEWS:
- Senate urged to cite House prosecutors in contempt
By Ryan Chua, ABS-CBN News
Posted at 01/09/2012 5:18 PM | Updated as of 01/09/2012 5:18 PM
MANILA, Philippines – A lawyer on Monday asked the Senate impeachment court to cite for contempt the members of the House of Representatives tasked to prosecute Chief Justice Renato Corona.
Saying he was acting in his personal capacity, Atty. Fernando Perito took a swipe at the House prosecution panel for releasing to the public their evidence against Corona, particularly on the case of his alleged ill-gotten wealth.
“I believe they should respect the rules of impeachment set by the Senate,” he told reporters.
In his urgent motion, Perito said he is “appalled by the irresponsible behavior of the members and the lead counsel of the prosecution.”
He argued that members of the prosecution team, led by Rep. Niel Tupas, violated Section 18 of the impeachment rules when they held a press conference to show documents on Corona’s property in Taguig City which h allegedly did not declare in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth.
Perito said the prosecutors had a “relentless thirst for media exposures to demonize their prey, the Chief Justice.”
“This bunch of eager prosecutors should be cited for indirect contempt of court even as they be ordered to stop from poisoning the public with their now awkward position. It only reflected the weakness of their evidence though they persist,” he wrote in his motion.
An interview with Jinkee Pacquiao’s old face
BY THE STAFF
- “What happened to Jinkee’s face??!” cried many on social media this week, after seeing the latest cover of Mega Magazine, with a virtually unrecognizable Mrs. Pacquiao.
Well, we at Mosquito Press have found out. We tracked Jinkee Pacquiao’s old face to a nursing home in Caloocan, where it is recovering from massive surgical wounds.
We spoke with it about family, culture, and its feelings toward Mrs. Pacquiao’s replacement face. Here is our exclusive interview.
DON’T MISS THE REST OF THE HILARIOUS INTERVIEW! GO TO MOSQUITO PRESS (HERE)
The Corona contradiction
by DEAN DE LA PAZ
BY now we should have learned our way around an impeachment complaint. That we remain ignorant is amazing. It is a testament to colossal illiteracy. Despite the patented “get-out-of-jail” card Gloria Arroyo perfected from the several impeachment attempts foisted on her, many have yet to read the relevant constitutional provisions.
In the controversies involving the constitutionality of the Articles of Impeachment (AOI) arrayed against the Chief Justice, there are four relevant paragraphs.
Article XI, Section 1 and 2 declare which officials are accountable and impeachable. Section 3, Paragraphs 2 and 3 describe the impeachment requisites filed by either a member of the House or by any citizen. Both stipulate protocols for a “verified complaint.”
The debate over constitutionality and validation relate directly to these. Distinct from Paragraphs 2 and 3, Section 3, Paragraph 4 deals with either a resolution of impeachment or a verified impeachment complaint filed by at least one-third of the House.
The AOI transmitted to the Senate involve the latter.
The delineation between a “verified impeachment complaint” under Paragraphs 2 and 3 and a one-third membership House “verified impeachment complaint” or “resolution of impeachment” under Paragraph 4 is central to the constitutionality controversy. For the former, verification protocols are spelled out. None are specified for the latter.
Note Paragraph 4’s short, simple and sweet verbiage. “In case the verified complaint or resolution of impeachment is filed by at least one-third of all the Members of the House, the same shall constitute the Articles of Impeachment, and trial by the Senate shall forthwith proceed.”
Under Paragraphs 2 and 3, verification protocols are spelled out and required. Under Paragraph 4, verification is assumed. In fact, in the respondent’s denials and affirmative defenses, “reading” suffices for verification.
There is a reason for the simplification. The filing is accomplished by the House’s one-third membership. In this case, two-thirds was attained. Beyond plurality, two-thirds denotes absolute control. The surplus provides excess comfort. Had the filing been vicarious, those who disagree would have retracted. Under a presumption of regularity, that none backtracked is eloquent testimony of an imprimatur and approval.
Following Paragraphs 2 and 3, if an impeachment complaint is not verified, what is transmitted to the Senate would be void ab initio. Technically, the Senate cannot acquire jurisdiction over a voided document.
However, the most valid argument for the AOI’s credibility comes from the respondent himself. If certain organizations believe that the AOI are flawed, either in substance or form, then a cursory analysis of the respondent’s denials and defenses shows one similarly wrought with an inherent contradiction.
According to former Ateneo Law Prof. Allan Paguia, by failing to deny the Senate’s jurisdiction, the Chief Justice effectively admits that the Senate has acquired jurisdiction over both the person of the respondent and the nature of the action.
Let’s move that premise forward. The Chief Justice and the AOI are now within the Senate’s jurisdiction. The duality aspect is important. If the Chief Justice believes that the Senate holds an invalid AOI—“the nature of the action”—then why is he responding to the Senate’s demand for a reply?
If the AOI are void ab initio, then it is legally impossible to acquire jurisdiction over a voided AOI. Thus, demands are similarly void.
The Senate becomes a legitimate impeachment court at the instance it acquires a valid impeachment. With a voided AOI, it acquires nothing and thus, cannot convene and act on anything, much less require a reply from respondents.
However, by recognizing the jurisdiction of the Senate and simultaneously responding to each charge over and beyond the jurisdictional question related to validity and voidance, in the constitutionality controversy, the Chief Justice himself effectively provides for the AOI’s credibility.
Despite raising the constitutionality and validity issue in the Chief Justice’s prefatory statement, before the Senate now are, therefore, valid AOI, accepted as legitimate by the Senate and effectively made even more credible by the Chief Justice’s admission of the Senate’s jurisdiction.
An alternative strategy would have been to divide the issues, first tackling validity and constitutionality separately through a preliminary investigation to question each signatory, and only thereafter, tackling each charge in the AOI. Such plays for time, stalls the momentum and returns the burden to the House.
To reiterate, the Senate cannot acquire jurisdiction over a voided document. That would annul its existence as an impeachment court. Hence, the Chief Justice, in the inherent contradictions within his response where these apply to the constitutional controversy, has, in fact, recognized the Senate as a valid impeachment court, thus clearing a straight and direct path toward the impeachment trial.
Our principal basis for installing Benigno Aquino III is our hunger for justice. It’s time we get this movable feast going. After all, we have crooks to catch.
Published in Business Mirror.