GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/15 May) – It ain’t really over until the fat lady sings.
But Monday’s appearance of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, former colleague of Supreme Court Justice Renato Corona, at resumption of the latter’s impeachment trial may yet be the game-changer of this highly-charged Philippine political drama.
By calling Carpio-Morales to the witness stand as an adverse and hostile witness, the Corona defense panel failed to buttress its claim that the impeachment of the Chief Justice was a result of political vendetta and virulent attack by President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III who wants him out of the Supreme Court.
Instead, the gamble exploded before the faces of the lawyers of Corona. Certainly, including the Chief Justice.
Carpio-Morales was allowed, by a unanimous vote, to present detailed information on Corona’s alleged dollar accounts and their attendant transactions through a Powerpoint presentation. The vote was the first of its kind for the Senate Impeachment Court instigated by, of all Senator-Judges, Senator Miriam Santiago who is perceived to be sympathetic to Corona.
Why the Court voted to allow the presentation can only be interpreted as one in answer to its members’ curiosity because, until Carpio-Morales waived the 17-page document from the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), nobody among them had any inkling about the intricate web of transactions involving Corona’s dollar accounts.
Carpio-Morales’ possession of the AMLC report also caught the defense panel off-guard. They never knew what hit them – members of Corona’s battery of high-priced lawyers. They never knew the extent and details of the Ombudsman’s investigation into their client’s dollar account deposits. When waived the copy, defense lead counsel Serafin Cuevas, a former Supreme Court associate justice like Carpio-Morales, conveniently forgot to get the details which was the subject subpoena.
But there was no denying the court.
Mind you, Carpio-Morales is not done yet. She could be swayed by both the prosecution and the impeachment court to testify beyond the dollar accounts of Corona.
There is no way for Corona’s defense team to explain their client’s multimillion dollar deposits without putting him on the witness stand, which at this stage may already be a helpless situation.
Corona may yet be able to spring surprises to his favor. After all, he has not rested his case. But frankly, is there really a way out for Corona? He already crossed his Rubicon. The way forward may be is just to fade quietly into the horizon. That, too, may no longer be an option for him given the way things took a turn for the worse for him.
Game may be over for Corona. (Edwin G. Espejo writes for www.asiancorrespondent.com.)