MANILA, MAY 29, 2012 (PHILSTAR) SEARCH FOR THE TRUTH By Ernesto M. Maceda - The moment of truth has come. The Senate heard closing arguments from prosecution and defense panels yesterday after which the Senators will cast their vote of conviction or acquittal of Chief Justice Renato Corona.

Both sides expressed confidence that they will win the vote with Malacañang giving an 18-5 estimate for conviction and defense lawyers saying they have the 8 votes required for acquittal.

The main issue has come down to whether the Foreign Currency Deposit Act quarantees the confidentiality of dollar deposits and therefore need not be reported in a statement of assets, liabilities and networth (SALN).

With regards to the peso deposits, CJ Corona explained he did not declare the peso deposits that did not belong to him. He said they belonged to his wife Cristina, his children and Basa-Guidote Enterprises, Inc.

The other legal issue is whether non-disclosure of assets or bank deposits in a SALN is an impeachable offense which the law allows to be corrected. The defense argued that non-disclosure of assets in a SALN is not serious or neither is it a high crime like treason, bribery, graft and corruption or other high crimes and therefore does not constitute an impeachable offense.

The individual senator judges will decide these 3 legal issues according to their interpretation of the law.

The issue is so debatable, an informal survey shows 3 Law school deans say that the CJ will be convicted while 2 say there is insufficient evidence for conviction.

Columnists are also divided, broadcasters appear to favor a guilty verdict. Malacañang has funded a propaganda blitz.

The Senators will cast their vote today. They will vote in alphabetical order with Senator Angara voting first and the Senate President voting last.

Day 43 the prosecution assigned their oral argument hour to Congressman Niel Tupas III and Cong. Rodolfo Fariñas. The closing argument was done by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. The defense case was presented by lead counsel Serafin Cuevas and Atty. Eduardo delos Angeles.

The Senate gallery was jampacked Monday and Tuesday with the Corona and Basa families in attendance. Also seen were Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II, Gov. Chavit Singson, Congw. Annie Susano, Midas Marquez, Congresswomen Trisha Bonoan David, Ivy Arago, Nancy Catamco and Emmie Calixto.

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ANOTHER FISH KILL . . After successive fish kills in Laguna de Bay, Taal Lake, Pangasinan and Camarines Sur, another deadly fish kill hit Laguna Lake a few days ago.

It is clear that the Department of Agriculture has not been able to find the solution to the fish kill problem.

It is supposed to be a simple problem due to lack of oxygen caused by over stocking. Why can’t DA/BFAR conduct an information and education campaign to prevent fish kill?

Another clear case of government inefficiency.

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GOOD CHOICE . . The appointment of Career Diplomat Sonia Brady as Ambassador to China is an excellent one. Ambassador Brady has previously served as Ambassador to China from April 2006 to January 2010 and therefore has experience dealing with the Chinese government.

Before that, she served as Consul at the Philippine Embassy in Beijing from 1976-1978.

Brady graduated with a Bachelor in Foreign Service from the University of the Philippines and her Master of Arts in International Relations from the University of Southern California.

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WHY ONLY NOW? . . After so many years of indecision, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala announced plans to put up 40 mini hydropower plants at a cost of P 20 million each. A mini hydro plant could produce at least 20 megawatts of electricity daily and can benefit 100,000 people.

Why only 20? Why not a hundred at a cost of only P1 billion?

NIA has identified 79 irrigation systems that can be tapped to produce electricity.

As earlier suggested, how about building water impounding dams to conserve rainwater?

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STALLED . . With only one week to go before adjournment on June 7, the Sin tax bill has been stalled in the House of Representatives. A strong lobby by cigarette manufacturers and joined by Northern Luzon Congressmen has watered down the bill from a proposed additional tax collection of P60 billion to only P33 billion.

Former Health Sec. Alberto Romualdez wrote a paper pointing out that the amended version reduced the DOH budget for Universal Health Care.

It looks like the cigarette manufacturers are again winning the battle against smoking. The bill is still to be taken up by the Senate.

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TIDBITS . . . Scout Ranger PFC Maximo Pasking was accused of killing two persons in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan last May 22.

The Puerto Princesa Underground River is now drawing 1,400 tourists a day.

Batangas teachers numbering over 1,000 are holding a Summit on Thursday, May 31 at the Batangas City Convention Center.

Dr. Dexter Buted is the chairman of the Alliance of Batangas Educators and School Administrators.

Vice President Jejomar Binay is in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to address the Philippine Malaysian Investment Forum.

The Chinese ban on Philippine banana exports is still in force. They have shipped back 240 containers to the Philippines.

Greetings to avid readers: John A. Bautista, Eddie Sy of Merriam Webster Bookstores and Engr. Ding Wenceslao.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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