Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Real Game of Thrones Part 3

Part 3: A Battle Won by Grave Mistakes

The game changed when Chief Justice Renato Corona appeared in the Impeachment Court in a highly dramatized stint filled with rhetoric, mud slinging, scripted opening speech which he himself requested he should give... and the Senate, in due respect, obliged. It was one mistake, for by doing so he opened many points for discussion, and in the end, even proved he has a moral issue as he walked out of the proceeding mainly because he was Chief Justice and that he wishes to be excused.

Later on we saw Corona run to a hospital, got sick and had to be confined. A usual eskapo for GMA minions. 
Either you get hospitalized, or you die.
Their game play has been very clear. But the game of thrones will always put someone in the losing side.
It was their time to taste defeat.

As he was brought back after this, Corona made his next mistake: admitting that he did not disclose his 2.4 million dollar account and his 80 million peso co-mingled funds. Following this was another mistake – he quoted R.A. 6426, The Foreign Currency Deposit Act of the Philippines, as his sole defense on why it was legal for him not to put into his SALN the dollar account. His stand? SALN was never an impeachable offense. His conscience, as he said, was CLEAN.

On that fateful day of May 29 2012, 23 Senator-Judges decided.

Ed Angara voted to CONVICT. He said it was Corona who "removed the iota of doubt" when he admitted he did not disclose his dollar account. Alan Cayetano voted to CONVICT, citing "lack of counter evidence" to answer the testimonies of Ombudsman Carpio Morales, and that he cannot accept Corona's "interpretation of law" as a defense. He posed a question: if that was not Corona, will we accept that reason? Joker Arroyo voted to ACQUIT, saying, in perhaps the most wonderfully articulated speech, "I cannot imagine we'll remove the Chief Justice on a (miswritten) SALN". Pia Cayetano cited Code of Conduct, encapsulated in R.A. 6713 as the standard of her decision. Said she, "corrections are allowed, but the failure to cite 2.4 million $ and 80 million pesos is NOT MINOR." She voted to CONVICT.

All eyes and ears were stolen by famed senator judge Miriam Defensor Santiago, who, again, fuming with oratorical delivery and cursing here and there, lambasted the thinking of those who were not like her. The burden of proof, according to her, is on the prosecution, and they were not able to produce it. On citing impeachable offenses in the Constitution (Article XI, Sec 2), she believes a correctable SALN cannot be an impeachable reason. 

Frank Drilon as expected, voted to CONVICT, saying Corona had no evidence to support his claims. Chiz Escudero voted to CONVICT, also ending with a statement that he submitted his waiver to the Ombudsman and that he was open for transparency. His explanation, like the others, made sense, saying that the Secrecy Clause of R.A. 6426 allows depositor to look into his own account, therefore equipping him to include this in his SALN. 

All the next Senator-Judges voted to CONVICT: Jinggoy Estrada on being "not convinced" by Corona's use of a 6426 for his defense, TJ Guingona on asking "Nasaan ito sa kanyang SALN?", Gringo Honasan saying "we have not proven that Corona is corrupt" but "no longer fit to preside the highest court in the land", Panfilo Lacson speaking of "half truths are lies", Lito Lapid in a rare opportunity where as a mere high school graduate and novice in lawmaking, said pasensiya na po as he voted according to his conscience.

Bongbong Marcos expectedly voted to ACQUIT. he was famously quoted for his speech, saying "when the furor has died down... we shall find solace in fact that this decision... is fair." Marcos was Corona's last hope. For after him came the barrage of votes to CONVICT.

Serge Osmeña said justice should be applied equally. Kiko Pangilinan cited systematic concealment of Corona's assets. Koko Pimentel again cited R.A. 6713. Ralph Recto saying it is mandatory to submit a true document under oath. Bong Revilla, the surprise swing vote who completed the required 16 votes, quoted "Chudor" Roosevelt, cited divine "frovidence", and said he heard directly from Corona the admittance that led to his decision. Tito Sotto and Antonio Trillanes followed suit, and Tunay na Mahirap Tindero ng Hipon Nakaligo sa Dagat ng Basura his Emminence, great business tycoon Manny Villar obviously just took the opportunity to talk about HIMSELF. He voted to CONVICT, by the way, reiterating Corona is a good man.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile completed the overwhelming 20 votes to CONVICT, and in his long speech of recapping the process, he proved he is a man of REASON. His point? The prosecution never really proved anything. The May 25 2012 hearing compelled him to form his decision, with a rude CJ speaking for himself without presenting hard evidence, and quoting the law that exempts him from true declaration of SALN. To Enrile, Corona was still DUTY BOUND, and that Corona's reasoning was "GROSSLY MISPLACED". 

For me, convicting Corona based on his miswritten SALN constitutes to this:

Culpable violation of the constitution
For purposes of impeachment, "culpable violation of the Constitution" is defined as "the deliberate and wrongful breach of the Constitution." Further, "Violation of the Constitution made unintentionally, in good faith, and mere mistakes in the proper construction of the Constitution, do not constitute an impeachable offense."

It was Corona's intention not to disclose his foreign accounts. 
It was a breach of the constitution, most especially of Article XI, Section 2.
As the highest magistrate of the land, he should have known better.
The law should not be breached.

That was how GMA's lasting formidable wall came to end. It goes down in history as the first successful Impeachment ever done by the country. it was done with much beauty and elegance. it was decided upon by a landslide vote. It was a fair trial, only that because Corona made his own mistakes, he eventually got a taste of his own medicine. 

And that medicine proved bitter, not only to him and his family,
but to the Queen who once held the Iron Throne despite the pronouncement of a new King.
And now, when the furor subsides as Sen. Marcos implicated, the Queen shall know she's next.

Only God knows where this game of thrones would lead us to. The game of thrones is dynamic – it may end on one's victory and another's loss, but the game never ends. An election is steaming, a new CJ will come into place, and the president I voted for may do something wrong along the way. Let's be watchful, for this Real Game of Thrones provide us with more episodes– realistic ones, never-ending plots, and most of all, a game where we can find our own individual selves in; caught between all these things, with only the power of democracy being our dragons, us waiting for the Filipino People to gain true hold of the Iron Throne.

The Real Game of Thrones Part 2

Part 2: Taking Down the Walls

The House of Representatives. The delegation tasked of collecting enough reasons for certain officials' impeachment. Once, in my younger years, that same house previously led by Manny Villar impeached former president Joseph Estrada. Hearing went on in the Impeachment Court: The Senate. This was the former game of thrones. It shaped our future, and it brought us to where we are today. It never ended, as it was disrupted by a walk-out, a dancing scene, a crying scene, and to cap it all off, an EDSA DOS who's celebratory person was Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, crowned owner of the Iron Throne. That same person whom millions have proclaimed as the next Cory Aquino adopted graft and corruption in her plate. The public despised her.

Slowly, the new administration made efforts to bring down her walls. The Truth Commission was established, but later on abolished by the Supreme Court, CJ Renato Corona at the helm. Any corruption charges were blocked by her other minion, Merceditas Gutierrez, Ombudsman of the country.

GMA made several futile attempts to avoid justice. As she was being held captive in one hospital, travel ban from DOJ enforced by Sec. Leila De Lima forbade her to seek medical treatment abroad. CJ Corona, in capping an SC Decision, released TRO for this ban which sent GMA to the the airport, on wheelchair and with other spine-correcting tools, prepped to go abroad for treatment (and for others, it was escape). Leila De Lima fought for the ban, and GMA was stopped from leaving.

GMA was a mere participant in the Congress, and with the Congress running side by side with the current administration, impeachment complaints were the clear solutions. One was made for the Ombudsman, who, later on, resigned and did not undergo proceedings. She was replaced by one key person who once stood her ground on a moral rule called delicadeza – Conchita Carpio Morales. The other was for the Chief Justice, and it did push through under lead prosecutor Niel Tupas and the Congress led by Sonny Belmonte.

It was this House of Representatives that brought the Impeachment to the deciding court, the Senate, led by Juan Ponce Enrile and is, opposite the Congress, a delegation filled with 23 minds that altogether answer to no one, admin or opposition alike.

Only 5 were solid administration supporters – Drilon, Pangilinan, Guingona, Recto, and Osmeña. Staunch opposition were Marcos and Arroyo. Defensor Santiago, an ICC Judge, stood for nothing other than the rule of law. Villar and Legarda were former election opponents of PNOY. With them are siblings Pia Cayetano and Alan Cayatano, the latter ending his term in 2013 and might possibly run again. Lacson was MIA until he met with PNOY and participated once again in the Senate. Escudero was aligned with the PNOY's plans on defeating corruption. Angara had his son in the prosecution panel. Estrada, Sotto, Revilla, and Lapid were former actors, but also were part of the Senate for a long time. Honasan and Trillanes both came from the military and both had histories of coup attempts. Enrile, once called Bastard Son of Malabon (just like Ned Stark's bastards), most senior of all, leads the pack.

As the battle in court began, we see two faces of opposing sides: One was filled with people from the administration, congressmen acting as prosecutors, Niel Tupas at the lead. The other face was a face of expertise – the defense, composed of elite lawyers with former Associate Justice Serafin Cuevas as the head.

Clearly, the battle was one-sided. The prosecution team did not stand any chance on winning, most especially because of two things: first, the articles of impeachment were flawed, and second, their evidences were proven wrong. It was a battle to be won by the defense, whose ride throughout most of the forty days of trial were smooth and loved by many. Of the 8 articles of impeachment, only 3 were valid for decision: 

ARTICLE II, Non-disclosure of correct SALN
ARTICLE III, Wife Accepting a Government Post
ARTICLE VII, Release of TRO on GMA's Travel BAN

We know what happened in the court proceedings. Prosecution loses, Defense wins. But nothing is ever final if the verdict has not been handed over. The 23 judges would still have to decide. In a mere twist of fate, unexpected and simply bludgeoning enough to shake all things, Chief Justice Renato Corona made a crucial mistake. Add to that a prior witness, brought in by the defense as hostile witness, placed the country's attention to Corona's dollar accounts and undisclosed wealth. It was Ombudsman Carpio Morales, the same lady whose delicadeza brought her to stand her ground and do not accept the nomination for GMA's midnight appointment.

The game has changed.

The Real Game of Thrones Part 1

Part 1: Who Sits on the Iron Throne?

Who sits on the country's Iron Throne?  It was not the current King. It was the former Queen.

Chilling. If ghosts really did exist and have the hobby of creeping up behind us, tickling our spines with icy airs of death, it is the same chilling effect. Chills when former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, in all her last strides to barricade herself with protective strategies, appointed Associate Justice Renato Corona as the new Chief Justice of the Republic of the Philippines. The country has voted a new president. Democracy ruled in the game-changing election, when people looked forward to an election not controlled by the administration, and the evidence was when many of the admin bets slipped down the tally in a painful loss and received damaging stabs of truth. The people didn't want one more moment with GMA nor her cronies. It was time to move on.

But that midnight appointment spelled out it was not going to happen.

As the JBC nominated the next justices in line to replace CJ Puno following his retirement, two stood their grounds in believing it was not for an outgoing president to decide on who the next administration's CJ would be. They are Associate Justices Antonio Carpio and Conchita Carpio-Morales. Their opposite, Renato Corona, gleefully accepted GMA's decision.

Constitution experts believe this is wrong and is an impeachable offense.

Article VII Section 15 spells out the truth. There's a Constitutional Ban on GMA's appointing powers, and that began March of 2010. Corona's appointment was made days after the election, May of 2010. From the very start, Corona's post was flawed.

Our laws do not spell out one rule which might have stopped GMA from doing all these things. That ONE RULE, I believe, is a moral virtue one has to uphold at times like this – it's something we call delicadeza.

It was chilling because GMA was able to put all barricades into place. Her Ombudsman appointee cannot be removed from office other than reasons of impeachment or resignation. Same goes for her Chief Justice. And because she does not possess that ONE RULE of higher moral standard, she breached delicadeza and secured a post in the Congress, representing her District in Pampanga. It was chilling because SHE IS UNTOUCHABLE.

And she played the game with such expertise. She holds the Iron Throne.

Yes, I voted for President Noynoy Aquino. With me are millions of other "fools" who believed he can lead us away from these trends in corruption. We are millions of "yellow army", "yellow brigade", and just plainly speaking, stupid people voting for a dead president's son. I beg to defer. Stupid as I am to have voted for PNOY, my intellect is firm. And my choice is something I am proud of, but at the same time I am most watchful of.

My wish? That he would make GMA touchable once again. That he would, as the country's leader, get us through all the barricades GMA had set and reach her, snatch her out of her comfort, and like a thief in the night surprise her with pulled out resources, dead-end corners, and ferret out the truth out of her, if there remains any.

All of these he should do while saving the country's ass from many other factors. Poverty. Territorial Battles. Economy. Law and Order. Peace. Education or lack of it. Jobs or lack of it. But most of all, the choice was driven because of one thing – that even if he fails in others, I just want to see an honest president.

On May 29, 2012, I believe another one of GMA's formidable walls had fallen. It was not an easy thing to do, and as a mere 22 year-old young man looking at the wars for the throne, it did not even look as bright and wise. It was a dirty little game, blown up to bigger proportions.. but in that dirty little game, I had hoped the lesser evil would emerge the victor... 

It took 44 days for that formidable wall to fall. In about 40 of those days, GMA still secures the Iron Throne. How was it taken away from her? Who was the culprit? Who was the victor? 

And by taking the throne away from her, will the political game of thrones end?