MANILA, MAY 8, 2012 (TRIBUNE) By Fernan J. Angeles and Gerry Baldo - Fearing an acquittal vote for Chief Justice Renato Corona, Malacañang is reportedly working doubly hard to ensure the conviction of the chief magistrate as it believes his conviction will serve to boost the chances of victory for the Liberal Party senatorial candidates in 2013.

Palace insiders disclosed this to the Tribune, but repeated calls and texts to presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda, his deputy Undersecretary Abigail Valte and the rest of the Palace news resource persons couldn’t be reached as “they were still in a very crucial meeting as of press time.”

According to a palace insider, the Presidential Communications and Operations Office is coming out with a plan to ensure the conviction of Corona, on instruction of President Aquino, who was said to have directed his aides to ensure a sustained “public awareness and opinion against the Chief Justice” on the continuing impeachment trial.

The President was said to have cited the need to take steps that would involve the public taking a stand on the Corona trial before the Filipino people grow tired or lose interest in the impeachment trial.

It will be recalled that a recent survey conducted by Stratpolls, showed a huge plurality saying they believe that Aquino wants Corona convicted as his revenge after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the sugar farmers in the case of the distribution of Hacienda Luisita.

It will also be recalled that during the lull in the impeachment trial and a week before the resumption of the trial, there was a sudden publicized report of the order of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales demanding an explanation on his alleged $10 million deposits in several bank accounts, without, however, providing any evidence of the accounts.

The Palace tenant and his senator-judges, as well as the prosecutors have been feasting on these alleged huge dollar deposits the Ombudsman claims to belong to the chief magistrate, using this allegation to further demonize the Chief Justice.

Aquino also echoed the sentiment of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile to wrap up the impeachment proceedings before June 7.

Asked why Malacañang is now hurrying things up, Aquino told reporters there are also other priority legislative measures that should be acted upon for immediate passage.

The highly placed Palace insider told The Tribune that the real reason the President is eagerly working on, and rushing the Corona conviction is to give the administration party’s senatorial bets better chances of winning against the power-packed senatorial list that Vice President Jejomar Binay’s United Nationalist Alliance had announced in the media.

Earlier yesterday, House Prosecution Panel Spokesman Miro Quimbo said that the conviction of the Chief Justice will favor the Aquino administration’s senatorial candidates.

Quimbo made this observation citing previous election results, which showed that majority of Filipinos voted for politicians whose campaigns and platforms were based on transparency and anti-corruption efforts.

“However, Corona’s acquittal will have a negative effect on the administration’s senatorial candidates,” Quimbo said in a radio interview,

Quimbo said the re-electionist senators will surely be affected by whatever decision they make.

In an interview earlier today, Sen. Edgardo Angara said the Ombudsman can present her findings on the alleged $10 million account of Corona to the impeachment court.

He added that said findings may be turned over voluntarily by the Ombudsman to the impeachment court, or one of the senator-judges may request for the information to be submitted to the court.

“It will be evidence by the impeachment court coming from an official, legally and lawfully authorized to provide that kind of evidence. Now, to be fair to the defense, we should also give them the opportunity to rebutt and provide further evidence,” he said.

“Under the SALn law, only the Ombudsman can do that investigation. The Ombdusman will do a simultaneous trial — purely a investigatory fact-finding inquiry — the result of which, the Ombudsman will turn over to the impeachment court,” he explained.

“The Ombudsman has the authority on its own. It is authorized by the law to do that — scrutinize evidence on unexplained wealth, its findings are officially acceptable in any judicial or any administrative bodies,” he added.

Angara explained that the confidentiality of foreign currency accounts are protected by law, hence PSBank cannot reveal or disclose any details pertaining to the Chief Justice’s account.

“The reality is that on public record, part of the public domain, part of the public knowledge, is that the Chief Justice has a dollar account. How much? We will know from another intervention by the Ombudsman.”

When asked if he thought whether information about Corona’s foreign currency account is important to trial, Angara replied, “It can be decided because there is an official, lawful confirmation of a fact already on record. Heretofore, what we know is that the records of the PSBank contains a dollar account of CJ Corona. That’s public record. And so the findings of the Ombdudsman will confirm and reiterate that fact.”


Meanwhile the defense moved to inhibit Angara from the trial proceedings.

But the prosecution said this move is without basis.

Quimbo said the defense panel should have moved to inhibit Senator Angara from the proceedings because of the involvement of Aurora Rep. Sonny Angara in the trial as a spokesman, adding that this is a desperate move of the defense to delay the proceedings.

The senator said: “It’s part of aa political gimmick… to force a vote of acquittal. This is a constitutional duty imposed on me (and my fellow senators), I do not intend to abdicate that duty,” he said.


Angara added that he had nothing to do with the appointment of his son, Sonny as one of the spokesman of the prosecution panel in Corona’s impeachment trial.

“Sonny’s appointment was made not by me but by the leaders of the House of Representatives,” the senator said.

As for the huge funding allocated to his home province, Angara said the funds provided for various projects in Baler was “obtained by me from the previous Arroyo administration and not from the present Aquino administration.”

“Its my constitutional duty to act as a judge. He is not even a prosecutor but a spokesperson. Secondly, if that is the logic, what about the Senate President and the Senate president pro-tempore can now be qualified because the son, and a brother are complainants.

“Obviously, this motion, while I understand their interest in doing everything to protect their client, I think they (defense) should not resort to a gimmick like this. Why do I call it a gimmick because they said the only way I can prove my impartiality is to vote for acquittal, what kind of logic is that? So in effect they are arm twisting me by a motion to inhibit so that I will have no choice but to vote for acquittal. That shows that it’s a gimmickry,” he said.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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