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Presumptions and Perceptions

Presumptions and Perceptions
Ronald Roy — 2012 June 6

The ostensible reconciliation between then Chief Justice Renato C. Corona and his immediate family on the one hand, and members of the Basa family on the other, was the most unexpected, most electrifying and most dramatic episode that occurred in the recent impeachment trial of former Chief Justice.

I say this because: if there is no love in the family as the basic unit of our society, there can be no love among Filipinos as a nation. Manifestive of this proposition is the scourging state of endemic disunity that debilitates our democracy.

What is strange is that the seeming reconciliation took place during a quiet recess that saw the Coronas and Basas unobtrusively seeking out one another for poignant hugs and kisses, as if goaded by an invisible hand to terminate a decades-long internecine dispute driven by envy, hate and distrust—a discord where everybody suffers and nobody wins.

What confounded was the suddenness of an interlude of love in an atmosphere of courtroom hostility. What bewildered was the instantaneous softening of hearts hardened by thirty years of familial enmity. Some call this spontaneous renewal magic. Others call it prodigy, a miracle by One with whom nothing is impossible.

Pentecost is the Christian festival celebrating the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples of Jesus after his Ascension, held on the 7th day after Easter (last May 27th).

Any abiding Christian should not doubt that: one, it was perhaps by the power of the Holy Spirit that the squabbling relatives were bonded together in that hushed respite, and two, it was perhaps by the power of the Holy Spirit, from whom each trial day was commenced with a prayer for divine enlightenment, that the impeachment court presumably rendered a just verdict.

At our end, therefore, we can only suppose that all the 23 senator-judges voted justly not only on this basis, but also on the legal presumption of the regularity of their official acts.  Thus, my answer to texter #0781 is yes, the conviction verdict was presumably just.

Margot (Suzara), the same four criteria of competence, integrity, probity and independence on which the verdict was based shall also be used to fill up the post vacated by the former Chief Justice, and you are correct in observing that there are in effect only three, since integrity and probity are perfect synonyms.

In respect of either term, you also correctly raise the critical question as to what degree of dishonesty or depravity of the act—i.e. the non-inclusion by the respondent in his SALN of his self-admitted possession of cash and non-cash assets—will qualify the same as an impeachable offense.

It seems obvious, from your own perceptions, that the former top magistrate would have been acquitted if what was not disclosed by him was a mere peso or a dollar.

So there you are, Margot and #0781, the “justness” of the collective and individual verdicts hinged on their respective valuations of the undeclared sums of money. Now, don’t ask me where we draw the line between a peso and a dollar on the one hand, and the ₱80 Million and $2.4 Million on the other.

Rather, let’s just ask if all the senators can now sleep well on their individual appreciations of whether the non-disclosure was an offense and, if so, whether it was an impeachable one, After all, no one in this case can truly proclaim “guilty” or “not guilty” with the precision of any known mathematical measuring tool.

Reggie (Campos), it’s unfortunate that four senator-judges reportedly convicted the respondent after they were convinced he had “faked his walkout in a blatant act of rank discourtesy and dishonesty”. I would however give him the benefit of the doubt on this matter.

Like him, I am a diabetic (24 years running), a kidney patient (end-stage renal failure, similar to 4th stage cancer) and an octogenarian afflicted with cardiac arrhythmia which explains why I have a pacemaker implanted in my left chest.

During a hypoglycemic episode, I become grumpy and ill-mannered because of nausea and pounding chest pains, and because of the horrifying thought that a cardiac arrest is imminent. Yes, hypoglycemia can trigger a heart attack, as in Mr. Corona’s case and mine.

At the same time, Art (Dimalanta), it is not fair to brand the defense team as a bunch of “blundering amateurs”. What I know is that it was an outraged respondent who ordered his lawyers to have the Ombudsman subpoenaed against their advice, and who insisted on giving his direct testimony in narrative form, again contrary to his counsel’s advice. That’s why he eventually apologized to them in open court.

As a result, the former Chief Justice and all his counsel have become objects of occasional derision albeit, to be sure, they are likewise recipients of sympathy and praise from those who perceive P-Noy as pikon (onion-skinned) like his mother, barumbado (reckless) like his father, and benggatibo (vindictive) like both his parents, not to mention the well-known fact that he railroaded the Lower House’s transmittal to the Senate of the Impeachment Complaint, in violation of the respondent’s right to due process.

Texter # 0881, I do not share your perception that Impeachment Presiding Officer Juan Ponce Enrile’s handling of the trial was “gloriously flawless”. Far from it. Because he allowed the trial to take place despite the fact that the Lower House’s Plenary Assembly, behaving under the dictatorial influence of an interloping President, did not legally act on the Justice Committee’s Report, Enrile should have admitted his error, apologized for it, and forthwith abstained from voting.

Then, the rationale for his abstention would have the effect of preventing future impeachments from being cast in the template of a glaringly flawed impeachment proceeding. Hmmm, nakalusot yata dito si Manong Johnny!!

#7673, there is a snowballing perception that P-Now is HIDING behind the technicality that: when he submitted his 2011 SALN, he already authorized the Ombudsman and all other agencies concerned to investigate all his entries therein. However, millions of Filipinos, his boss, don’t see it the way he obdurately does.

By being frivolously defiant, P-Noy confirms that one: he is not sincere whenever he tells people “Kayo ang boss ko”, two: he is the type who would not mind “casting the first stone” at any opportunity, and three: he is so hurt by the Corona Court’s Hacienda Luisita ruling that he cannot ascribe to the former Chief Justice the nobility of a new paradigm of public transparency and accountability.

Hmmm… clearly, P-Noy does not mind being perceived by his boss as setting a new standard in hypocrisy in public service!!

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