DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/27 January) — This just crossed my mind. Assuming it was former CJ Corona who was the one who sent someone of high rank to secretly pick up a senator-juror, put him in the car back seat to hide him from the entrance guards, brought him to his home for breakfast and talked to him about the impeachment case and appealed to him to resist all pressure, would Malacanang consider this as correct and proper? If you ask President Aquino, who did exactly just that, that’s perfectly all right! Oh boy!
I may have my own share of mistakes and bad judgments when I was a lawyer practising law. But old-fashioned values — like “delicadeza” or sense of propriety — taught us that if I had a case before a judge, I would take special effort in not clandestinely knocking alone on his chamber door, unless my opposing companero was with me. The social circles of Davao City then was not so big that I would usually bump into and chat with judges before whose sala I had pending cases. Of course I also took special efforts in befriending them, for obvious reasons.
However, me driving and getting a judge sit in the back seat and bringing him to breakfast to specifically talk about a case before him — however “lofty” the intentions are — is unthinkable and way out of line by any standard. Sec. Mar Roxas, now famous for his clandestine driving services, will definitely disagree with me.
In other jurisdictions, if one juror (senators were jurors during the impeachment) is caught even just talking with another person about the case, this can be basis for his discharge or removal from the jury. If the breach is serious, it can be ground for a mistrial. To now say that impeachment is “political” in nature and therefore justifies some lobbying is pure baloney!
Worse, several senators, especially from the opposition, admitted that they were “picked up” in the same way but professed righteousness, without compunction. C’mon guys, be real! Worst is the case of Senator Bong Revilla who would not have exposed it were it not for his own tragic and shameful predicament. Sorry, but his theatrics did not impress me!
And now, the President no less admitting the presidential caper but saying he did not influence Sen. Revilla; that nothing was done to unduly influence the Senate vote, although it was public knowledge that on many occasions the President minced no words in wanting that CJ Corona be forever banished from the bench.
But was it by mere coincidence that per records, some opposition senators got millions from the President just before the senate vote, taken from the infamous PDAF that the Supreme Court ruled against? Was it by mere coincidence that after that Malacanang breakfast, and days before the Senate voted (on May 29) to impeach CJ Corona , Revilla received (on May 4) from the Palace P86 million of his P100 million pork-barrel funds for the year?
Was it by mere coincidence that Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, another oppositonist who also met with President Aquino (the president himself admitted) received also on May 4 a whooping P50 million? No wonder Jinggoy sounded “coy” and sparing in his press statements, clearly caught between the “devil and the deep blue sea”.
Was it by mere coincidence that Sen. Lito Lapid received a total of P100 million in two tranches, P50 million (on April 26) and another P50 million on May 8 just before the vote? No wonder Sen. Lito in his media statements seemed stymied in admitting but appearing like someone satisfied after swallowing the proverbial canary.
By the way, I got some of this data from Manila Times columnist Roberto “Bobbie” Tiglao in his article titled “AQUINO GAVE REVILLA HIS P86 M PORK AFTER THEIR MEETING”, January 24 issue, Manila Times. In rebuttal, Budget Secretary Butch Abad immediately denied Tiglao’s assertions. He said that the releases, if indeed made, came as a matter of course and not at all connected with the pending Senate impeachment case. Whom should we believe?
In the case of CJ Corona, I will not also believe it if he tells us that he also did not make his own moves to influence the vote. Otherwise, he, too, will be lying through his teeth. Although I have no specific info about his own behind-the-scene campaign, I know he is prone to and capable of doing so based on his past actuations. And like the President, I expect he will also deny wrongdoing.
That reminds me. Remember what we usually tell our young kids to warn and scare them to be honest and true? “Children, liars don’t go to Heaven!”
(Lawyer Jesus G. Dureza was government peace panel chair in the negotiations with the MILF under the Arroyo administration from 2001 to 2003 and was later named Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (2005 to 2008). He heads Advocacy MindaNOW Foundation, Inc. and was recently named publisher of the Davao City-based Mindanao Times. This piece is from his syndicated column, Advocacy MindaNOW.)