Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Impeachment: An Ant in the Briefs


The impeachment trial of Chief Justice Corona is good for the Philippines in so many ways. First of all, it is democracy in action, at the highest level. The World Championship of checks and balances. The trial is being conducted in a dramatically tense, often confrontational tone, but also in an amazingly civil and mature way thanks to the firm and respected guiding hand of Senator Enrile.

The man is a hero in my book.

First of all he is highly old and therefore testament to the idea that if you use your brain it stays sharp, and you have a pile of wisdom to leverage.

Second, he demonstrates that a former wild man and coup leader can settle down into a constructive elder statesman. So I figure there is hope for all the wild-eyed leftists out there protesting in the streets, that they will some day ripen, wise up and contribute something meaningful to the Philippines.


Third, he displays the kind of calm, mature, legally tough presentation and perspective that we wish the Chief Justice could summon up.

The trial also reveals what dunces attorneys can be, and that is always a good thing. The persecution  . . . oops, slip of the keyboard there . . . the prosecution slammed about like a drunk in a barroom fight for a few weeks, trying to figure out where the restroom had been dispatched to, or the evidence. They were fishing, folks. Using the trial to discover. Not present discovery. I don't know if that is endemic in the way Philippine laws work, that investigators can't investigate because they might find out stuff about powerful people, or if the trial was rushed together so fast they could not do a proper job, or what.  They eventually threw out most of the charges to focus on the few that seemed to have some fish behind them. And if conviction is the way of the day, it will probably be on only one point: the guy lied on his SALN.

The defense also got in on the act of the dunce by demanding the Ombudsman testify. They made a loud splash of it and she marched in and laid out a trail of numbers that suggested, not only does the guy have a lot of dollar money stashed here and there, but he is working those accounts like a money launderer would. Like over 700 transactions whipping through something like 80 accounts.

I think this guy is the Teflon man who has been around too many years and the Teflon is peeling off, one scrape at a time. He figured he had three firewalls. One, he was Chief Justice, a high and mighty, and no one would have the audacity to probe their proboscis into his affairs. He is simply too honorable. Second, the Philippine bank secrecy laws are designed to protect scoundrels who launder money. They aren't used as tax havens, but places to clean up dirty cash and send it off for spending by said scoundrels. He deposited there. Third, he figured he had the other justices in his pocket, and, boy, would I like to look at their dollar accounts, too. This is the famous "TRO Court of CJ Corona", with TROs being akin to defecation by kangaroos.

The defense reaction all along has been one of belligerence and victimization. Same attitude regarding the Ombudsman, a position that warrants respect, even if begrudging: "We'll tear her apart and show her to be a fool!" the defense exclaims.

Well, as of this writing, that may or may not transpire.

But the reaction is classic Filipino, neh?

Macho, this Chief Justice and his mighty legal minions. Masters of intimidation and bluster. Not an iota of humble, except that displayed when God is called into the picture, as a Team Player for the defense.

I will say this for the Senate. If they confirm that this character as the kind of Chief Justice that represents the Philippines well, I will join the rest of the world in laughing . . .

You see, a Chief Justice should represent all that is honorable and just about understanding, living and interpreting laws that draw out the best in people. That defend those harmed and express where freedom has its limits. It requires intelligence, knowledge, judiciousness and calm impartiality.

Mr. Corona was stained from the day he accepted a midnight appointment from Ms. Arroyo. He could have worked past that through mature, honorable rulings and leadership of the Supreme Court. But instead he allowed himself to be drawn down into the pit of politics and its ugly recriminations. He displayed rash judgments and thuggish leadership. He refused to recuse himself from cases where he might be seen as biased, and he cast himself as a direct opponent of the President. He cried that the President was challenging the court's independence when it is his own injudicious behavior that threatens the reputation and independence of the Courts. He rebelled against the wholly legal process of impeachment,  groveling in the dirt like the most sorry, pitiful victim imaginable. When he wasn't groveling, he stalked about lording his indignation on anyone who simply wanted answers to reasonable questions. Like, why doesn't your SALN report the money? And exactly where did all that money come from?

The guy is a clown by Western judicial standards.

The Senate can determine what standards are appropriate for the Philippines.

That is another reason the trial is good. It will show us what the Philippines is really about, in terms of ethical renditions for the most important ethical position in the land.

19 comments:

  1. What is more pathetic and outright ridiculous is that his liars.. err lawyers are "afraid" they can not "protect" him if he takes the stand. Imagine, the thief...err chief justice, supposedly the cream of the crop, afraid in his own turf. Some supposedly thinking people even try to rationalize that saying he might incriminate himself; a legal figure of speech which most often than not simply means "he might spill the beans".

    Wits

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    1. The cream in this case has turned rancid. All the legal shenanigans in the world will not save him as impeachment is more political than legal, and the Senators know the public will revolt next election if they let this guy stay on. That's my prediction. Tough to explain away 700 transactions and 80 accounts as being any kind of normal banking pattern.

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    2. And yet there are a few rabid people, some even articulate at that, who kept on defending their stand on Corona, no matter how twisted their "principle" is.

      They leave their thinking to the lawyers....the lawyers, like these people do not have a mind of their own. And they so "passionately" cry out for the Rule of Law when the whole judiciary can not agree on a single interpretation. The problem, most definitely is, is with the Interpreters of Law.

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    3. Interesting. Laws are made by the Legislature, and by the Courts as they rule on cases. "Case law". If this compilation of case law is undisciplined and dirtied by favoritism over the years, the whole foundation of "law" becomes mushy. Sand instead of cement. Thanks for helping me find that perspective. Maybe I'll write more about it.

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    4. That would be a very interesting topic.

      Wits

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  2. My initial reaction from defense of getting the OMBUDSMAN to testify was a total disbelief and a truckload of disgust. A bargain to bring the CJ to testify before the court.

    For what?

    The defense tried their hardest to discredit her and failed to stop the power point presentation.

    The Senator Judges voted unanimously to allowing the power point presentation. Justice seems to be working this time. Nice job folks.

    The ploy misfired and ended up shooting their feet.

    Corona has now a valid reason to fire his defense lawyers to delay the impeachment process.

    Watching yesterday's proceedings with those accounts and the staggering movement of money during the election year in 2004 is simply mind-boggling.


    Joe, I think you are right to mention money launderer attributes. It seems like after they wash the money, they distribute the clean money to more scoundrels involve in the Presidential election.

    Its Jack

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    1. Jack, that is the main purpose of the secrecy laws, I think. To allow the privileged the avenues to be scoundrels. If President Aquino is interested in transparency, he'll open access to banking accounts upon court-approved warrant.

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    2. Joe, you are abosolutely right with the purpose of the bank secrecy law. I just love that word scoundrel, but any way this President has to do something to patch that gaping lopehole.

      I know this is not that only flawed law protecting the the big and almighty scoundrels. SALN is one of them. The scoundrels files it, but not publicly disclosed. It is like "cant have a cake and eat it too."

      Hurts so much having ants in briefs.

      Its another brilliant and lovable piece.

      Its Jack

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    3. Ha, yes, a good word that. I'll probably over-use "scoundrel" like I do "relentlessly" and "engage". It is too perfect. Glad you enjoyed the article.

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    4. Yeah Joe, it is so perfect and forgive me I used it to describe them in a yahoo blog this morning in connection with Corona's impeachment trial.

      Thieves is the common word they use in yahoo and PhilStar, but you helped me trasform becoming a professional rascal. hahaha...

      Its Jack

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    5. "Jack, that is the main purpose of the secrecy laws, I think. To allow the privileged the avenues to be scoundrels..."

      The main purpose of secrecy laws is mainly economics. It is bad enough that scoundrels steal from government coffers, it is even worse when they take their loot out of the banking system and transfer them to banks abroad, to hide their crime. Just imagine if all the billion dollars of hidden wealth of our politicians in Switzerland or the Bahamas were here instead invested. A moral dilemma indeed.- ricelander

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    6. ricelander. Yeah, economics, like voodoo economics or upside down economics or the kind of economics that exports wealth and keeps poverty.

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    7. Voodoo economics, hahaha.

      You were a bank executive, right? So you do understand the amoral nature of the banking industry.-ricelander

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    8. To the extent that greed supplants corporate responsibility, yes I do. Like Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan. But there are a lot of good bankers in the world, and without banks we'd be in shitshape. So one needs to focus on the miscreants, not the industry, as being immoral.

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  3. Is it just me, or does it sound like another case of the accused playing the victim card? It's that kind of flip-flopping that gets this place nowhere; everything all messy and unorganized, especially the prosecution the first few weeks.

    Ybañez-Anderson(a.k.a. Andy)

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  4. manuelbuencaminoMay 16, 2012 at 1:40 AM

    Joe,

    It must be pointed out that many of the articles of impeachment became impossible to prosecute because the Supreme Court prohibited the subpoena of documents from court records and employees for ex. TRO on the hold order on the Arroyos; the TRO on the impeachment of then Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez; the flip-flopping decisions on the PAL/FASAP case and the League of Cities case; and his refusal to account for the judicial development funds, special allowances, and other court collections.


    Even the article on SALN was in danger because Corona successfully blocked inquiry into his dollar accounts through a TRO on a subpoena to PSBank. Fortunately, some alert minds noticed an unlocked window and they got to the accounts through the Ombudsman.

    The other articles were dropped not because they were weak but because it would prolong the trial unnecessarily, which was part of the defense strategy. The longer the trial took, the more it would make the prosecution look inept. In this country of shyster lawyers and lawmakers, form takes precedence over substance.

    But how does the defense look now that the Senate has had enough of their histrionics? The public is beginning to see that they were hiding their client behind a smokescreen of legal technicalities and motions because they never had any substantive reply to the charges against their client. They were blowing smoke out of their asses all along.

    And that reminds me, although in an entirely unrelated way, of Condoleeza Rices' infamous quote on those aluminum tubes the US found in in Iraq "we don't want that smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud." Turns out the smoke she saw was coming out of her ass."

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  5. manuelbuencaminoMay 16, 2012 at 1:41 AM

    Sorry. "The smoke she saw was smoke coming out of CHENEY's ass."

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    1. And Bush was puffing.

      Thanks for the background on the case.

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