The Corona conviction: an afterthought

After 44 days of impeachment trial that spanned 4 months, 20 senator-judges convicted CJ Renato Corona on May 28, 2012 for his failure to declare his wealth in his sworn SALN, based on Article 2 of the 8 articles of impeachment signed by 188 members of the House of Representatives. 

The guilty verdict did not come as a surprise to me.  I was anticipating just that and had in fact blogged about it on February 18, 2012 <>.  What surprised me was the overwhelming vote of conviction handed down by the Senate.

In my earlier view of the trial, I assumed that 17 senators would likely convict Corona (one more than the required 16 senators to convict) in Article 2 of the impeachment raps against him — 10 of the 11 senators elected in 2007, the 3 Liberal Party senators elected in 2010,  and the 4 actors-turned-senators who were also elected in 2010.

I figured that  the 10 senators elected in 2007 are likely to run for re-election (or other elected positions) in next year’s mid term elections and would naturally want to be viewed by the electorate as being “sympathetic” to the prevailing public sentiment of convicting Corona.  A few of them might even be eyeing positions in the cabinet of President Aquino and a guilty vote could only advance their ambition.

The 3 Liberal Party senators (partymates of President Aquino) had no choice but to kowtow to the wishes of Malacañang, while the 4 actors-turned-senators would simply “go with the tide.”

The not guilty verdict returned by senators Joker Arroyo (Lakas-Kampi Party), Miriam Defensor-Santiago (People’s Reform Party) and Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. (Nacionalista Party) did not surprise me too.  Arroyo and Defensor-Santiago were both consistent in questioning the legality and propriety of the impeachment process at the Lower House right from the start of the trial.  Defensor-Santiago is also set to assume her post as a judge at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague and would not profit from any political dividend of a guilty vote.

Marcos, on the other hand, is probably eyeing the big one in 2016 and carefully cultivating himself as a viable opposition candidate for the presidency.

I was wrong in assuming votes of acquittal from senators Pia Cayetano (Nacionalista Party) and Sergio Osmeña III (PDP-Laban Party) whose terms of office end in 2016 yet.  But the biggest surprise to me was the guilty verdict handed down by senate president and presiding judge Juan Ponce Enrile (Partido ng Masang Pilipino).

With his seeming fair handling and effective control of the proceedings of the trial, I thought Enrile was, in one of his favorite expressions, “laying down the predicate” of a political magnum opus which he intends to be largely remembered for by future generations of Filipinos. 

A guilty verdict had already been reached when his turn came as the last senator to judge Corona.  He could have used his 15-minute speech to articulate the majesty of a fair and neutral presiding judge taking no sides to the very end of the trial with abstention from casting a judgement vote.

Even better could have been a refusal to convict Corona on the basis of a flawed impeachment process at the Lower House and prosecution evidences of dubious sources, thereby setting a landmark precedent for future cases of impeachment.

Enrile could have retired from his long and colorful political career with a redeeming legacy that might cushion the negative view of his past role as chief enforcer of the martial law regime of Ferdinand Marcos and his contributions to EDSA-1 that turned sour. 

In the end, it can be said that Corona aided in his own conviction with his open admission in court of owning PhP80 million and US$4.2 million in several bank accounts without bothering to offer incontrovertible proofs that such huge amounts of money were legally earned and/or acquired by him.  His 2-day appearance in court also came late in the day and his oral testimonies might have even influenced some of the votes against him.

I will leave the “collateral damage” of the Corona trial and conviction for the future to unravel.  I will however say that the predatory type of politics  <> President Aquino has been exhibiting for the past 2 years has a long history of disastrous consequences for both its practitioners and the Filipino people.

Author:  Rene “RC” Catacutan
Published 12 June 2012


Guilty votes

Senate President & Presiding Judge Juan Ponce Enrile

Senator Edgardo Angara

Senator Allan Peter Cayetano 

Senator Pia Cayetano

Senator Franklin Drilon

Senator Francis Escudero

Senator Jinggoy Estrada

Senator Teofisto Guingona III

Senator Gregorio Honasan

Senator Panfilo Lacson

Senator Manuel Lapid

Senator Loren Legarda

Senator Sergio Osmeña III

Senator Kiko Pangilinan

Senator Aquilino Pimental III

Senator Ralph Recto

Senator Ramon Revilla, Jr.

Senator Vicente Sotto III

Senator Antonio Trillanes IV

Senator Manny Villar

Not guilty votes

Senator Joker Arroyo

Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago 

Senator Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.

The House Prosecution Panel

Members of the Defense Panel