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Final Judgment by noise barrage

Final Judgment by noise barrage
Ronald Roy — 2012 May 23

Sometime in the mid 70s when Judd for the Defense was a high school student atLa Salle, Greenhills, I attended a large family gathering of Castros, Domingos, Paltings and Roys. I cannot now recall the reason for the occasion, but what I vividly remember was the presence of my favorite uncle, Angelo Ruiz Castro, Sr., who was his usual witty and charming self regaling everybody with his booming baritone voice and cinematic good looks.

Uncle Fred played the lead role—“for the heck of it” was his reply to friends—in LVN Pictures’ “Ang Estudyante”, his first and last fling as a screen actor before returning to his first and last love in radio broadcasting. He packed the Times Theatre with friends and relatives on the first day of showing by giving them free admission tickets with the soulful plea: “Please see the movie, naman, because if you don’t, baka walang manood!”

I will always remember that family luncheon because of a humbling compliment I received from another uncle, the eldest of the siblings, SC Justice Fred Ruiz Castro, who tapped my shoulder from behind, saying: “Ronnie, my God, I didn’t know you could write like some of our jurists… and with such punctiliousness to grammar and idioms… in that recent Comelec case which you argued out with the passion of a militant reformist! You are a potential addition to the bench!”

As I sheepishly thanked him, I mused: “Hmmm, I don’t deserve this high tribute. If he only knew that Architecture and Civil Engineering were my first and last love, and that the Law was always a tail-ender in my academic priorities.” I was then the Managing Partner of Jose J. Roy & Associates Law Offices, and how I wound up being a lawyer is, well, another story.

The foregoing is a backgrounder for replying to texters who want to know how I feel about CJ Corona’s being deemed guilty in the eyes of the public on the eve of his taking the witness stand.

CJ Fred Ruiz Castro was right when he called me a militant reformist. Little did he know that decades later I would become a hard-hitting newspaper journalist, an original member of Ateneo,La Salleat Lahat Na, a core member of the Concerned Citizens Movement, and a street parliamentarian. For 10 long years, I was devoted to denouncing GMA, her husband and her cohorts.

Then last year I turned to denouncing Associate Justice Renato C. Corona for accepting GMA’s midnight appointment that crowned him Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. And I reviled his court that was packed with the former de facto President’s minions for ruling the appointment was constitutional.

But then, when I heard his story through defense counsel Judd Roy, I somehow saw the “other side” of the man, the compelling truth of his innocence, and the image of a pitiful victim of the vast powers of an ostensibly vengeful President.

To this day, CJ Corona’s story has raced through my mind since I first heard it on Dec 28 last year, three days after Christmas Day, when the Chief Justice and his wife Cristina came to see Atty.Jose M. Roy IIIfor legal assistance.

To this day, very gripping have been the assurances by the spouses that they “could easily explain everything”, the five pieces of real property, the four dollar bank accounts, and other related issues. For me, it is extremely significant that: as early as Dec 25 last year, the Corona spouses were talking of only five pieces of real property, not 45, and only four dollar bank accounts, not 82—the time lapse of five months strongly suggesting that their stout declarations of owning only five realty assets and only four dollar bank accounts must be true, and not afterthought concoctions.

But then again, perhaps my view of CJ Corona’s innocence is a biased one because it was shown to me by a son who, incidentally, I know as a man who opposes injustice in all forms, and fights vigorously for his clients in accordance with his conscience, his Oath as a lawyer, and the dictates of the Rule of Law.

Let me put it this way, Sheryl (Ordoñez): I am “morally certain” that Chief Justice Corona is not guilty, and by that I mean I can assert he is innocent without feeling immoral about making the assertion.

At this stage of the proceedings, it is obvious that nobody can say with “legal certainty” that he is guilty. In fact, Sheryl, the final verdict in the current impeachment trial need not be hewn out of the Senator-Judges’ technical understanding of the Law, because nothing prohibits them from confining their judgment to their inherent understanding of Justice. Law and Justice are generally inseparable partners; but this is not necessarily so in impeachment cases.

By the time this piece is published, perhaps the impeachment trial will have seen the termination of the respondent’s testimony; so, until then I would not have the faintest idea of how persuasive he will be in earning an exoneration.

But Joe, (Valdez), the Chief Justice’s testimonial persuasiveness will depend largely on his clarity of mind, equanimity, sincerity and, not least of all: his spontaneity in coming across as an honorable family man and an honest public servant.

If truth is on his side, he should find little trouble testifying with candor and ease, and the so-called tell-tale body language should in fact work in his favor. No, Joe, I would not deign to entertain the idea that the final judgment can be negotiated with shadowy power brokers with the senators whom I consider to be honorable.

However, I do find extremely unsettling the recent reported presence in the Palace of some private prosecutors and Congressmen led by Cong. Erin Tañada, and the “courtesy call” paid by P-Noy to INC Head Eduardo V. Manalo a day just before the CJ took the witness stand.

This so-called tradition of paying courtesy calls to heads of religious organizations sucks, particularly with respect to the circumstances surrounding the current impeachment trial, where P-Noy is generally viewed as personally pushing for CJ Corona’s conviction. In this connection, I cannot help but call P-Noy an unprincipled interloper in matters belonging to the exclusive jurisdiction of the impeachment tribunal.

Texter #2887, I hate to belabor the point, but Sen. Gringo Honasan’s insistence that Chief Justice Corona shall be judged on the basis of how the people will judge him constrains me to ask: “How, my good Senator, will the sovereign Filipino people convey their final judgment? Will it be by the lighting of candles all over the country at a certain hour of a given evening? Will it be by SMS voting ala American Idol? Will it by trending via Twitter or perhaps by a nationwide noise barrage?

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