The impeachment trial is nearly over. No one is predicting a win except the defense and prosecution. Both predict a win, or at least are arguing vociferously right down to the wire.
It is easy to see why acquittal is possible. The $2.4 million dollars and P80 million have been reasonably explained away by Mr. Corona. Bank secrecy laws. Comingled funds. Unclear SALN rules. After 45 years of professional work, an inheritance, money from sale of property, it is within reason that he would have this amount. Is five properties out of line? Maybe or maybe not, given the entangled family web that is the Coronas. If Mr. Corona were a top-flight judge with above-board, objective, apolitical views, and an honorable attitude regarding transparency, there would be no conviction.
But that is not the case. Mr. Corona has stonewalled his information, fought all the way, issued political condemnations of the Executive and Legislative branches as well as the Ombudsman, prosecution attorneys and media. He argues that this is to protect the independence of the judiciary whilst he has blatantly tried to undermine the reputation and standing of the other branches of government. "His" court has been instrumental in blocking interviews with Supreme Court Justices that were fundamentally important to many of the impeachment charges. That's why they were dropped.
Here is why I would vote for conviction:
- It is a political call, not legalistically pure.
- Mr. Corona did not report substantial assets. The excuse-making reflects a fundamental opposition to transparency. Transparency is critically important to ending corruption. Every Supreme Court case going forward will come down against transparency in the future if he remains in his seat.
- Acquittal would empower the Supreme Court, make it the dominant of the three branches of government; unassailable by impeachment, unapproachable by Executive, run by a political man of weak legal ethics.
If the Senate acquits, the Philippines will remain locked down in hidden accounts, precious little transparency, and weaker Executive and Legislative branches. The courts will remain under the direction of a Chief Justice who does not represent the Philippines responsibly or apolitically or, in my opinion, competently. Mr. Corona is guided by forces other than the law, and that is the definition of corruption.
The courts will remain a barrier to transparency and honesty.