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  1. #1

    The Corona Impeachment Trial

    'It's game over for CJ if AMLC report is verified'

    by Jojo Malig, ABS-CBNnews.com
    Posted at 05/14/2012 11:37 PM | Updated as of 05/15/2012 7:22 AM




    MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) *- If the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) report on Chief Justice Renato Corona's dollar accounts and transactions is verified, then it's*game over for him in his impeachment trial, analysts said late Monday.

    Reacting to the testimony of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, Ateneo de Manila University (AdMU) School of Government Dean Tony La Viña said that if it is proven that the AMLC report is true, then the chief justice is finished.

    "If the AMLC report is verified, I would think it is all over but the formalities. Of course, this can be dragged on by questioning authenticity of documents/transactions but is disservice to public if purpose is delaying inevitable," he said on social media network Twitter.

    ANC analyst and veteran journalist Teddy Locsin Jr. also believes that Morales' testimony, if proven correct, means the end for Corona.*

    "It isn't even a bombshell but a careful reconstruction that seals CJ's coffin," he said on Twitter.

    "Corona must explain; he cannot, unless Morales lent herself to wholesale fraud, which I do not believe," he said. "I believe she (Morales) has done it already. I hope no one credits [the] prosecution."

    "Non-disclosure [is] perfectly legal and proper, it is the gigantic sum that is horrifying," he added.

    Locsin, a former Makati congressman,*said that if*Corona does not have an explanation for his multi-million dollar transactions, he should be removed from office.

    "If Corona [is] guilty even of [an] uncharged crime like this, he should be removed. Too much," he said.

    On Monday night, Corona issued a statement denying the figures mentioned by Morales. He said Morales should resign*once proven wrong. *

    However, he did not categorically deny the existence of the*dollar accounts.

    'At least $10M in 82 dollar accounts'

    Carpio-Morales testified that Corona allegedly had at least $10 million in transactional balances in 82 US dollar accounts in 5 banks from 2003 to 2011.

    Gasps and stunned silence met the testimony of Morales, who has launched a fact-finding investigation into Corona's alleged dollar accounts.

    The Ombudsman said "significant deposits and withdrawals" on the dollar accounts were made during the 2004 and 2007 elections, as well as the week Corona was impeached in December last year.

    Morales said on December 12, 2011, the day he was impeached, Corona pre-terminated a US dollar time deposit account amounting to $418,193.32.

    "This amount was added to a BPI [Bank of Philippine Islands] account and from this, $417,000 was deducted from this account and transferred to a regular account," she said.

    COA helps Ombudsman analyze AMLC report

    She said she got her data from Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) records, and analyzed it with the help of the Commission on Audit (COA).

    COA Commissioner Heidi Mendoza, a member of the COA team that analyzed the figures, briefly took the took the witness stand in the Senate impeachment trial Monday.

    She said there were more than 400 transactions under Corona's name.

    Mendoza said, based on transactions reported to the AMLC, dollar accounts in Corona's name had a total inflow of $28 million and total outflow of $30 million from April 2003 to December 2011.

    She said peso transactions involving Corona's bank accounts also reached P242 million.

    Corona only declared P3.5 million in cash in his 2010 SALN. Article 2 of the impeachment complaint accuses the Chief Justice of failing to declare and disclose all of his assets and his true net worth.

    Conspiracy to bring down CJ: defense

    In response, the defense dismissed Morales' testimony as "proof" of an alleged conspiracy among government agencies to bring down the chief justice.
    *
    "May motibo talaga na sirain ang pangalan ni Chief Justice. May malinaw na motibo para siya ay tanggalin," said Atty. Rico Quicho.

    The defense also claimed that the Ombudsman's testimony was not damaging, and only muddled the issue further.

    Quicho admitted earlier in the day that they were caught flatfooted by Morales' revelations.

    Morales will continue her testimony on Tuesday.

    Checkmate after failed gambit?

    Political analyst and University of the Philippines professor Prospero de Vera last Saturday described the defense's decision to present Corona and Morales as witnesses in the impeachment trial as a gambit.

    He compared it to a chess match and said the defense's move is "make or break."

    Based on the reactions of people who watched the proceedings in the Senate on Monday, the defense's gambit may have failed.

    Prosecutors said Morales' testimony seriously damaged the case of the defense, with House lead prosecutor Rep. Niel Tupas saying the inflows and outflows in Corona's dollar accounts indicate "professional money laundering." -- with ANC
    www.Gameface.ph: Changing The Face of The Game!

  2. #2
    'Disrespect, undeclared wealth to bury Corona'

    ABS-CBNnews.com
    Posted at 05/28/2012 10:18 AM | Updated as of 05/28/2012 10:18 AM


    MANILA, Philippines – A pro-impeachment lawmaker believes a guilty verdict against Chief Justice Renato Corona in his impeachment trial is inevitable because of the disrespect he showed to the senator-judges and because he admitted he has undeclared wealth.

    “It is inevitable that it will be a guilty (verdict) and convicted si Chief Justice,” Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello told ABS-CBN’s “Umagang Kay Ganda.”

    “First is the disrespect that he showed last Tuesday but more important is that he became the best witness against himself. Basically, he admitted that the P80 million he did not declare and the $2.4 million in dollar accounts,” he added.

    Bello said Corona only declared about P29 million worth of assets in his 2010 statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) when his actual net worth was about P211 million or 9 times bigger. “Malaki talaga yung discrepancy,” he said.

    He noted that the SALN law is very strict in mandating all public officials to declare all assets in their SALNs.

    He also debunked Corona’s argument that he would violate the foreign currency deposits act if he declared his dollar deposits. Both the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Civil Service Commission earlier said Corona should have declared his dollars in his SALNs.

    “He could have just translated the $2.4 million at the exchange rate of P43.5, which would have shown the actual peso amount,” he said.

    “There was, in fact, an effort to escape the requirements of the SALN law and the Chief Justice should not be doing this. Impeachable yan,” he said.

    'Some senators don’t declare dollars'

    For his part, Supreme Court Employees Association president Jojo Guerrero said Corona was correct when he did not declare his dollar accounts in his SALNs.

    In the same interview, Guerrero said he is sure that some of the senator-judges do not declare their foreign currency deposits.

    “I’m sure may mga senador na hindi nagdedeklara,” he told ABS-CBN.

    He also said it is unclear whether the conversion rate to be used should be at the time of declaration or the time of acquisition of the dollars. “I think tama lang yung bank secrecy law. Kung hindi, baguhin nila,” he said.

    Guerrerro said that as chief justice, Corona was following the “letter of the law” when he said declaring his dollar deposits would violate Republic Act 6426.

    He also denied that Corona planned to walk out of his trial last Tuesday, saying that the chief magistrate was feeling unwell at the time and wanted to be excused.

    The SC employee said the senator-judges should consider how the impeachment complaint was rushed at the very beginning, and that evidence was only gathered after the complaint was filed.

    “We urge the senator-judges to be fair and to do it for the country and not just think about the coming elections,” he said.
    www.Gameface.ph: Changing The Face of The Game!

  3. #3

    Impeachment trial established the Solution to Philippines’ massive Corruption Problem

    By Ted Laguatan

    7:14 pm | Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

    The almost impossible task of removing the Supreme Court’s Chief Justice who really needed to be removed is done. This could be the spark that lights the nation’s fire towards real reforms in all three branches of government from top to bottom – an absolute necessity if the Philippines is to be a truly progressive democratic country.

    The Corona impeachment trial provided us with some valuable insights which should be integrated in government affairs and can be utilized to eliminate the terrible institutionalized culture of government corruption which crushes Filipinos with the terrible sufferings that it renders.

    In his impeachment trial, Corona went down and was convicted because of the admission of relevant two general items of evidence and the weight given to these: One, his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net-worth (SALN) ; Two, the Anti Money Laundering Council (AMLC) data on his dollar deposits.

    When the AMLC data presented by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales established that Corona had millions of dollars deposited in various accounts and his annual SALN reports clearly indicated that he did not report these – an overwhelming majority of the Senator-Judges were compelled to convict him.

    One of of the three Senator-Judges who voted to acquit ranted and raved – was bothered, bewildered and viewed as a witch by many – presented non sequitur arguments in Corona’s defense. Nevertheless, the truth of her factual accusations against government officials which formed the premise of her arguments cannot be denied. Essentially, the premise of her argument is that the Philippine government is one of the world’s most corrupt, that countless officials are corrupt (and she certainly did not exclude her fellow Senators from that grouping) – and that practically all misrepresent their annual SALNs.

    Her fallacious conclusion: Therefore, it is not right to convict the Chief Justice for a wrongdoing that almost every official is guilty of. Among other things, she cited the common practice of officials withdrawing money from their bank accounts prior to completing their annual end of the year SALNs so they can report minimal money assets and then re-depositing these at the beginning of the following year.

    Her argument is about as valid as saying that corrupt government officials should not be convicted when caught stealing because countless corrupt government officials in the Philippines also steal. It’s also like saying that racists in the American South who engage in violent hate crimes should not be convicted when caught because so many racists there regularly do the same thing.

    Notwithstanding the error in her arguments, she brought out an important truth – that so many government officials are corrupt and that they lie in their SALN reports. We need to now face and resolve this national shame and problem which crucify and victimize all of us in one way or another including those who are corrupt.

    Of really great practical value to the nation is what this impeachment trial has inadvertently established: The SALN law and AMLC data can effectively be used to remove and criminally convict corrupt government officials.

    Heaven most likely provided this unexpected bonanza in order to help us finally rid the country of institutionalized corruption which has plagued our people for ages. It’s now up to us to follow through and utilize these valuable available tools if we really seriously want an efficient and honest government. I believe we do.

    What then should we do?

    By Executive Order, President Aquino should immediately establish a well-funded section at the Ombudsman’s office which routinely examines the SALNs of government officials. (At present, no one really reviews the annual SALNs of officials making it practically useless.) Like in the United States, SALNs of officials should be open and available to the public. Not even the President is exempted from this requirement. No government official should be exempted. An official who does not want his assets, liabilities or Networth scrutinized – should resign.

    This is Aquino’s chance for real greatness and a chance to make all of his parents’ dreams and the dreams of millions of Filippinos come true. This hope for a corruption free Philippines and a better life for all is why millions voted for him. This is the coming together of all the reasons for his being at this time and place. Everything happens for a purpose.

    If the SALN or lifestyle of an official waves some red flags – AMLC data on the official should be requested and analyzed. If obvious wrongdoing is involved, then the official can successfully be prosecuted using his SALN reports and AMLC data. Obviously, the Ombudsman’s office will be needing more prosecutor lawyers and support personnel including field investigators.

    Damning evidence can or should be shared with other government agencies like the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Department of Justice.

    Eradicating mass corruption in government will mean that the billions of tax money collected from the people will not end up in the pockets of corrupt officials but will be returned to the people in terms of increased and higher quality infrastructures, schools, health care, roads, bridges, nutrition, peace and order, government services, etc.

    With the government saving billions of pesos from stopping corruption, the salaries of officials can be raised significantly – allowing them to provide a decent life for themselves and their families and easing the temptations to be corrupt because of legitimate family needs. Providing sufficiently adequate incomes and benefits to government officials should be part of the strategy against mass corruption.

    A couple of Senators have raised the issue where a current administration might possibly use SALN reports and AMLC data for political vendetta. But if one is honest and has nothing to hide, what is there to fear? And once our judicial system has become honest, we can have recourse in our courts which can provide relief and true justice. No administration would want to risk losing its credibility by bringing false charges against innocent citizens.

    For the good of all, we should now immediately utilize this valuable insight providentially brought to us by this impeachment trial – a truly great blessing to the nation. The SALN reports and AMLC data are clearly very valuable tools in the sacred fight against corruption. The use of these instruments provide the answer to the oft asked question: “How do we rid the Philippines of massive deeply embedded institutionalized corruption?”

    We now have a blueprint on how to proceed in solving a very difficult problem which has kept us among the slag countries at the bottom of the “most honest government” list or at the top of the “most corrupt government” rankings. The Corona impeachment trial may turn out to be the greatest blessing for the Philippines in this century because of the insights and enlightenment that emanated from it.

    From out of something bad, (in this case GMA and Corona’s corruption and dishonesty), something good sometimes happens. In this case, the likelihood of massive reforms in all branches of government from top to bottom – which will really make it more fun to be in the Philippines.

    If this happens, watch out world – here we come, ready to accomplish much and take our position among the respected and great nations of the world.

    More importantly, it would mean a way out for millions of talented and intelligent Filipino boys and girls stricken by poverty, who dig into stinking dirty garbage cans for food, who do not have proper shelter, health care, education, who are exposed to crime and condemned to a life without a decent future. If we provide an escape for them, they can flower to their highest potentials in the arts, sciences, philosophy, humanities and other fields – as our Creator intends. They can contribute immensely to making a better Philippines.

    We owe it to God, to our fellowmen and to ourselves – to make the reality of a corruption free Philippine government happen and to create a better world for all.

  4. #4

    JBC’s waiver requirement is Unconstitutional, says Lawyer

    By Jerome Aning

    Philippine Daily Inquirer
    3:19 pm | Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

    MANILA, Philippines—The requirement imposed by the Judicial and Bar Council on applicants for chief justice of the Supreme Court to sign waivers to the confidentiality of their bank deposits is unconstitutional as it imposes a condition not provided for by the Constitution, a lawyer said Tuesday.

    Romulo Macalintal said the waiver requirement was also discriminatory since it has not been required of the applicants for positions in the lower courts.

    Under Section 7(1), Article VIII of the Constitution, Macalintal said, the minimum requirements for appointment to the Supreme Court are: natural born Filipino citizen; at least 40 years of age; and at least 15 years of law practice.

    “The JBC cannot prescribe what the Constitution does not provide. To impose the said requirement upon the aspirants for chief justice is to broaden the qualification provided for by the Constitution. In other words, the aforesaid JBC waiver requirement is invalid since it is clearly in conflict with the requirements in the Constitution,” the lawyer said in a statement e-mailed from the United States.

    Macalintal likened the waiver requirement to Section 36 of Republic No. 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 which required mandatory drug testing of candidates for public office and was struck down by the Supreme Court.

    The provision was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court on Nov. 3, 2008 because it “enlarges the qualification requirements enumerated in the Constitution and that the Commission on Elections cannot impose qualifications on candidates in addition to what the Constitution prescribes,” Macalintal said, citing the high court’s decision.

    “The said waiver-requirement may be allowed only if it is optional or voluntary to the applicants but never to make it mandatory to the applicants which ‘necessarily suggests that the obstinate ones shall suffer the adverse consequences for not adhering to the requirement’ as observed by the Supreme Court in the drug test case,” he added.

    Macalintal said the waiver requirement was also discriminatory to applicants for the post of chief justice since the waiver had not been required of other positions in the judiciary and all other applicants in the government service as well as candidates for elective positions.

    “As a matter of fact, even statements of assets, liabilities and net worth are not required from these applicants when they are still applying for positions in the government service,” he said.

    Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile had also opposed the JBC requirement, saying it was “OA (overacting),” and that it was like telling the nominee that he was not trust-worthy so he needed to sign the waiver.

    Enrile added that he would not agree with such a condition if he were the nominee, saying, “I will be serving the country and immediately you suspect my motives.”

  5. #5
    ^^^ I would have to agree with the Senate President there. Thanks to Rene Corona however, suddenly these extraordinary requriements are beginning to gain ground. You see what happens when ambition overtakes good sense, even the laws and the rules are jarred. I say, let the present rules stand, and enough of this "OA". Chis Escudero, this is all your fault.

  6. #6

    Malacañang says World Bank report key to ousting Midas Marquez

    Philippine Daily Inquirer

    1:16 am | Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

    Could Supreme Court Administrator Midas Marquez, who is closely identified with impeached former Chief Justice Renato Corona, be the next to go?

    Malacañang on Tuesday hinted as much, with presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda suggesting that a leaked World Bank report on allegedly questionable procurements and disbursements in a $21.9-million WB loan to the high court for the Judicial Reform Support Project (JRSP) could be the “just cause” for Marquez’s removal.

    “We saw the World Bank aide memoire where there were certain expenditures made by Midas Marquez as court administrator. I think that should be explained,” said Lacierda, noting that under the presidential decree that created the Office of Court Administrator (OCA), Marquez could be removed “for just cause.”

    Expenditures

    “It’s up to the Supreme Court justices en banc whether they would allow (him) to remain,” he said, reacting to Marquez’s assertion that he could be removed from office through an en banc decision.

    Just before the start of Corona’s impeachment trial last year, a confidential WB memorandum to Philippine officials, which noted “ineligible” expenditures of $199,000 in the JRSP, was released allegedly by Malacañang.

    Until Corona’s ouster last week, Marquez concurrently headed the high court’s Public Information Office (PIO) and chaired the JRSP. Shortly after Corona’s conviction, Marquez relinquished the position of Supreme Court spokesperson and was succeeded by his deputy, Cleo Guerra.

    Nothing improper

    Marquez has denied any impropriety in the use of the JRSP funds. He also questioned the Palace’s release of the report considering that some of its contents were “still to be confirmed” and “preliminary in nature.” He assured the public that the high court was transparent in its financial affairs.

    The World Bank acknowledged the document’s existence but said that it had not released it to the public.

    In a television interview on Tuesday, Marquez said he did not see any reason to quit now, recalling that the tribunal during the time of Chief Justice Reynato Puno unanimously appointed him to the OCA.

    “I hope that they (justices) still have trust and confidence in me,” he said.

    While he believes the high court will accord him due process if a case is filed against him, Marquez said he would willingly quit if he thought he was no longer effective.

    “I won’t wait for that [charges] if they’re after my head. If I think I’m no longer effective, If I think that the service is already suffering and I can no longer protect the judges and employees, I’ll be the first to go,” he said. Jerome Aning and Christine O. Avendaño

  7. #7
    ^^^ Just in case people forget that Midas Marquez has something big to answer for and that it is the World Bank that is asking.

  8. #8

    Piecemeal justice

    By: Juan L. Mercado

    Philippine Daily Inquirer

    8:42 pm | Monday, July 2nd, 2012

    “Thou shalt not ration justice” is a commandment “if we are to keep democracy,” US federal judge Learned Hand wrote before his death in 1961.

    Here, “21 percent of trials take two to five years to finish, and 13 percent take more than five years,” acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio told a Central Luzon convention of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines. “There has to be a sea change… Judicial reform is simply too important to fail.”

    Carpio pitched his address to an audience beyond IBP: a nation scrambling to close the gap left by the impeachment and removal of its 23rd chief justice. The Senate fired Renato Corona by a 20-3 vote. It nailed the “Capo” for stashing dollar and peso bank accounts while fiddling with statements of assets, liabilities and net worth.

    The unsaid context was decisions by the Corona court that rationed justice. Crammed with jurists handpicked by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the Corona majority served as bouncers for GMA’s interests, claim critics. These critics include President Aquino.

    The majority stitched a legal fig leaf for the “midnight” appointment of Corona, papered over Rep. Dato Arroyo’s gerrymandering in Camarines Sur, then rammed through a temporary restraining order that would have allowed GMA to flee. Now in hospital detention, GMA denies charges of plunder and election sabotage.

    Serial skewed decisions by the Arroyo justices eroded the Supreme Court’s moral high ground. Among others, these included repeated flip-flopping on 16 towns turned into cities and paralysis on the Philippine Airlines flight attendants and stewards case. It murmured amen as Eduardo Cojuangco pocketed 16.2 million San Miguel Corp. shares funded by the levy imposed on coconut farmers. “The biggest joke to hit the century,” snapped then Justice Conchita Carpio Morales.

    Antonio Carpio’s program jump-starts the stalled judiciary reform program initiated by then Chief Justice Hilario Davide. It includes case decongestion; integrity and independence of judges; compensation of judges, court administration, and training; and transparency and accountability. “Clean-house” measures, instituted a day after Corona’s removal, underpin this roadmap for the future.

    “Sunlight is the best disinfectant,” counseled Justice William O. Douglas, who served longest (almost 37 years) in the US Supreme Court. On his first day as acting chief justice, Carpio prodded once reluctant justices to direct judges: Disclose SALNs “as mandated by the Constitution and the law.”

    It helped that Carpio opened his SALN long before the Corona conviction. “The Supreme Court has done this as part of the lessons learned from the recent impeachment trial,” he said. “Leaders of the judiciary must lead by example.”

    Post on the high court’s website what were once kept hush-hush, Carpio directed. Today, at the click of a computer mouse, you can surf what former Sen. Rene Saguisag and researchers were repeatedly denied access to: reports on the Judiciary Development Fund and special allowances for judges, plus those by the Commission on Audit.

    “This is really a no-brainer since all these are public documents,” Carpio explained. “This is part of the new transparency and accountability policy.”

    Quit shilly-shallying. Move decisively into the digital age. Adopt a computerized case management (CCM) system, as demonstrated by the Court of Appeals, “widely acknowledged worldwide as a success.” By the end of 2012, Presiding Justice Andres Reyes foresees that the CCM system will ensure that all cases are decided 12 months from the end of trial.

    If the CA can do it, why not the Supreme Court? In fact, CCM is being pilot-tested in all Quezon City trial courts. If successful, the trial court CCM will be deployed nationwide in 2013.

    Simplify, simplify, simplify. Streamline trial procedures, patterned after four existing special rules in corporate controversies, environmental issues and intellectual property rights.

    “Internet connection for all courthouses is now a necessity. Access to the Supreme Court’s E-Library will put at the fingertips of all judges nationwide, all the jurisprudence and laws they need in writing decisions. Every judge and justice will be provided a USB 3G wireless thumb-drive…”

    Filter cases through mediation. “Out of 209,165 civil cases mediated as of May 2012, the success rate was 64 percent. And out of 23,979 civil cases placed under judicial dispute resolution as of May 2012, the success rate was 40 percent. Judicial dispute resolution is a second sieve. It sifted 78 percent of all civil cases filed with first and second level courts.”

    Criminal cases account for four out of every five pending cases. There is a severe lack of prosecutors and public defenders. About 26 percent of courts here lack judges. Ideally, the vacancy rate should be less than 5 percent. (In the United States, vacancy in federal district courts is 10 percent. “And they’re already talking of a judicial crisis.”)

    In Manila, the average caseload is 242 cases per judge. In next-door Taguig City, it is 1,161 cases per judge. “Clearly, there is a need to reengineer the distribution of courts in relation to population. This needs legislation.”

    The attentive reader will find it worthwhile to go through the full text of Carpio’s address. Surf the Net for sc.judiciary.gov.ph/jcarpio.php. This column’s 5,700-character cap can only skim highlights:

    Liberty is best ensured by ending the rationing of justice. “The spirit of liberty lies in the hearts of men and women,” Learned Hand said in a 1944 Central Park address. “When it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it.”

  9. #9

    Search for justice

    By: Conrado de Quiros

    Philippine Daily Inquirer

    9:08 pm | Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

    Frank Chavez had a most interesting reaction to Antonio Carpio’s bid to become chief justice. Carpio had earlier vowed to introduce much needed reforms into the judiciary if he should become so.

    “Too late the hero,” says Chavez. “Carpio has not contributed to the realization of the reforms he is proposing now. Eleven years wasted. One does not have to be Chief Justice to provide the necessary integrity within the judicial system. Each justice of the Supreme Court is a firebrand unto himself to introduce these reforms.

    “I would rather that the next Chief Justice come from outside. It would heal the wounds of the institution. It would also be a breather to the infighting within the court.”

    I agree.

    True enough, you don’t have to be the chief justice to stand for reforms, or create enough impact for them to be carried out in your time. The most dramatic case of it being Marcos’ time when it wasn’t the chief justice that embodied reform—he embodied lackey-ness—it was the dissenters. Chief of them Claudio Teehankee, who often dissented by his lonesome. Though Cecilia Muñoz Palma and Vicente Abad Santos were not far behind.

    Indeed, you don’t even have to be a justice to stand for reforms, or stop the march of injustice and oppression, which is pretty much the only reform of any significance in our justice system. The human rights lawyers were so. They were the legal Oskar Schindlers of their time, the people who gave refuge and succor to martial law’s victims, not least of them the political prisoners. They created and defended the space, not unlike Plaza Miranda, that tanks and tyranny could not invade.

    After Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Renato Corona in particular, the reforms you need to carry out are not administrative, they are substantive. The reforms you need to carry out are not structural, they are elemental. In fact, the only reform you need to carry out is restoring the public’s trust in the courts and faith in the justice system. Put more negatively and accurately, the only reform you need to carry out is to persuade the public to believe the justices are not for sale and there’s the shadow of a chance the poor might actually get justice in a court of, well, law.

    Quite interestingly, while we’ve been busy looking for a chief justice, something has happened across the globe that shows what it means for people to have a reasonable trust in their courts, or at least for people not to see their Supreme Court justices as bought. Last week, in an astonishing reversal of fortune, US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts voted for Obamacare, allowing it to win by one vote. Overnight, he became Public Enemy No. 1 of the conservatives, with the Tea Party and other batty extremist groups, which can only remind one of those groups in the Weimar Republic that brought Hitler to power, going on a hate binge, calling him all sorts of things. “Bought” was not one of them.

    Here, that would have been the first thing said of him: “Nabili ’yan.”

    I’d go beyond saying that we need a chief justice from outside to do away with the cretinous offspring of incestuous relationships and say we need a dramatic break from the past. The depths to which Gloria and Renato have plunged the judiciary call for someone who will, if not bring it to heights of glory, at least pull it to eye-level where it has a chance to be appraised and not found wanting by the public.

    It cannot help Carpio’s cause that he does not represent a break, he represents a continuity. He is the public face of a firm that calls itself “The Firm” in celebration of its bigness and power. Forgetting that John Grisham used that term in his novel of the same name to refer to a legal group whose bigness and power came from serving only one master: the Mafia. Or perhaps perfectly remembering it, boasting as it does all over the place that its “modest” accomplishments include making and keeping three presidents. Its letters to prospective clients carry variations of that theme.

    We need a break from more of the same. No, we need a violent rejection of more of the same.

    I myself would go for someone like Rene Saguisag, a human rights lawyer who risked life and limb to help the drowning climb the ark (“Schindler’s Ark” was the original title of Thomas Keneally’s book), a former public official who never used his power to abuse or enrich himself (his honesty is legendary), a grieving widower who remains inconsolable to this day but who has slowly pulled himself out of the pit of desolation. If only for the last, I’d find him the most qualified. I have absolutely no sympathy for people who can blithely move on, or call upon others to do so. Which was the mantra of the past regime, which was the law of the past regime. For sheer bravery, honesty and devotion, Rene should be way up there before the others.

    Or from truly far afield, I’d go for Raul Pangalangan. Media do not lack for lawyers who like to inflict their opinions of law and life upon the world, but none has done better to establish the connection between the two than Raul. Most attempt only to pass off legal erudition, citing precedents for the way a legal tangle might be interpreted. Raul is the one I know who teaches law in the grand manner, whether teaching in class as ex-dean of UP Law or teaching in writing as Inquirer columnist, his analyses of issues showing an appreciation for the breadth of life as much as for the nuances of law. He does not just supply facts, he provides insight. Something we’ve little gotten from the fraternity of law and lawyers, something we badly need today.

    In the end, you can’t go wrong by simply thinking that our search for chief justice boils down to one thing:

    A search chiefly for justice.

  10. #10

    Carpio still best man for SC’s top post

    By: Solita Collas-Monsod

    Philippine Daily Inquirer

    11:15 pm | Friday, July 27th, 2012

    As I write this column, one ear is cocked to the last of the Judicial and Bar Council interviews, and it is obvious to me that some of its members reached and passed the point of diminishing marginal productivity, their contributions to the selection process turning negative. Launching into rambling discourses before and after asking questions, losing their cool, not paying attention, showing off for the TV cameras, getting argumentative, and even (although infrequently), kissing ass.

    The two lady members, I must say, behaved impeccably, keeping their dignity at all times, and were never guilty of the behavior listed above. I expected it of retired Court of Appeals Justice Aurora Lagman, who has always impressed me. But Celing Fernan’s daughter, who was a tabula rasa to me, behaved like a chip off the old block, made of the same stuff her father was. I congratulate them both.

    It was a master stroke of the JBC, though, to allow Juan de la Cruz to contribute questions through Twitter. If one notes that the questions from the public were more direct and to the point than those of the JBC members, it might be because there are limits to the length of a Twitter message, and not necessarily because the public is better than the JBC at asking questions. But one thing is sure: Those who tweeted questions were of the no-holds-barred variety.

    I listened to what every candidate had to say, and to their answers—either live or through YouTube. And what did I come out with?

    First, I am now even more convinced that Antonio Carpio is the best man for the job of chief justice. Not because there was any doubt before, but because more information came out during the interviews that buttressed my original opinion (which I expressed in this column some time ago).

    What new information buttressed my original opinion? For one, the acting JBC chair, Supreme Court Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta, shared the information that when he first joined the high court, Carpio told him (I forget whether the information was gratuitous or not) that it took him (Carpio) three years to learn the ropes and feel comfortable with the breadth of the cases coming to the tribunal. Now Carpio is not dumb (valedictorian, bar topnotcher), and if it took him three years to learn the ropes, we cannot have an “outsider” taking the top position at the Supreme Court. Given the judiciary’s problems, we need somebody who not only can hit the ground running, but has in fact hit his stride, knows the terrain, and will not stumble.

    It also turns out that in the two months that Carpio has headed the Supreme Court in an acting capacity, he has instituted or implemented procedures that would make for the tribunal’s greater operational efficiency. And it is not as if these just occurred to him, either, as a brainstorm. Why? Because Carpio must have expected, the moment he entered the high court, that he would be the chief justice after Reynato Puno. And he must have been preparing for it from Day One. So he has had a lot of time, not to mention the brains, to find out how to solve the judiciary’s problems.

    Hubris on his part? No. Simple arithmetic. The tradition (and Carpio brought this out) in the Philippine Supreme Court, has apparently been that the most senior (in terms of years of service, not age) associate justice is the “llamado” to fill a vacancy in the top post. Except during the Japanese occupation, no “outsider” has done so. And given that the mandatory retirement age is 70, it doesn’t take rocket science to determine when the vacancy would occur, and who would be next in line. If arithmetic is not one’s strong suit, all one has to do is look at the high court sitting en banc, to see who is next in line—the one sitting at the right hand of the chief justice. The one sitting at his left is second in line, and so on. The ones sitting at the extreme left and right are the most junior and second most junior associate justices.

    For example, when Justice Lourdes Sereno was appointed, I immediately calculated that in the ordinary course of events, she would be chief justice by 2020, which would then allow her nine years to put her stamp on the Sereno Court.

    In the case of Carpio, the course of events were not ordinary. Renato Corona was appointed, although he was less senior than Carpio. (The Reader will remember that Carpio refused to be considered for the top post because he opined that then outgoing President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was constitutionally barred from appointing a chief justice at that point. But even if Carpio were on the JBC short list, Arroyo would have appointed Corona anyway.)

    Another additional positive information about Carpio, which came out as a result of the accusation that he was a member of an old boys’ club (read: he was campaigning for the acquittal of Hubert Webb). He stated categorically that not only has he never asked any of his colleagues to support his views on a case, he has also never stepped into any of their chambers. I wonder how many of his colleagues can make the same statement. Perhaps it should be a rule at the Supreme Court, written or unwritten: no visiting each other’s offices.

    I also did not know, until the JBC interviews, that in connection with his “Sigma Rho” connections, he had voted to dismiss a Court of Appeals justice who was a “brod.” No wonder a lot of his fraternity brothers badmouth him.

    Retired Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban wrote about the qualifications for a chief justice in one of his columns. Well, Antonio Carpio meets ALL, not just some, of those requirements, in spades.


 
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