The Defense: A Stuttering Start

Just when we thought the Defense would come out blazing with a professional and thoughtful case, it disappointed.

Its opening gambit was to present Rep. Tobias Tiangco to prove the impeachment was railroaded through the House. Somebody forgot to tell them they are selling last year’s product.

The Senate had rendered their argument academic when it proceeded with the trial. For the Defense to now tell the Senators they have been beating a dead horse all along was not only an affront to their intelligence and self worth; but a waste of their time. No wonder Sen. Enrile told them to can it.

The Defense then proceeded to reveal the CJ earned P21 MM in salaries, allowances and bonuses over the last ten years to justify his portfolio of properties and dispel claims of ill-gotten wealth.

 The Defense had successfully moved heaven and earth to kick out hidden wealth as a cause of action when first introduced by the Prosecution in Sec. 2.4 of Article 2 of the Impeachment; so for it to re-introduce the subject is weird. The Prosecution can reasonably argue the matter is now fair game and revisit the space and everything that comes with it.

Disclosing the CJ’s ten-year compensation served no useful purpose.  First, it failed to connect it to the man’s disclosed SALNs which is what is in contention. Second, it allows hidden wealth to be re-introduced into the agenda. Three, it opens up the CJ to a tax investigation for any unpaid taxes on his allowances, gifts and bonuses. In fact, the Prosecution may seek to sub-poena the CJ’s tax returns to a) confirm his multi-million peso income and b) to reconcile it with his SALNs.

On a broader level the Defense as of late seems to be singing with two voices not always in sync with each other. The first is Chief Counsel Cuevas’, the other  the CJ’s. The former wants to keep it simple, technical, in tune and in the courtroom; the other wants to go off key, expand the repertoire and take it to the public.

We first got a whiff of this two-voice disharmony when the defense team, ex-Cuevas, accused Malacanang of trying to buy the Senators’ votes. The Lead Counsel apparently wanted nothing to do with this tack and, as it turned out, rightly so.

Again, in a surprise move, the CJ announced his intention to soon disclose his dollar accounts. When asked about this, Cuevas answered something to the effect he must have been asleep when this was all happening. He was clearly caught off-guard.

Lastly, the CJ has gone off on a personal crusade against the President, accusing him of payback for Luisita and of trying to impose one-man rule. It is unclear whether Cuevas agrees with this angle of attack.

For one, few quite believe the line.

Secondly, it diminishes the CJ’s stature to that of a petty politician.

Lastly, the CJ with a low double digit popularity is taking on a man with a high double digit popularity. The numbers are not there. As Lyndon Johnson would say: “That dog won’t hunt”.

By going mano-a-mano with P-Noy, the CJ is transforming the issue from an impeachment that he has a reasonable chance of beating; to a referendum between him and the President in which the public is asked to choose. The outcome is a no-brainer, the CJ will lose this battle every time.

What has prompted the CJ to go off-piste is an interesting question. Perhaps he believes the advise of those who have an ax to grind against the President; or his hubris is getting the better of him; or he is feeling the pressure; or he actually believes the story. Offense may be the best form of defense but this foray seems ill-conceived.

I suspect his Chief Counsel feels likewise but he is not (and has never been) in charge. In frustration, he could well be tearing out what is an otherwise interesting hair arrangement.

In the coming days the Defense has promised to connect all the dots of what has so far been a scattered presentation.

The CJ has decided to bring his case to the public. As with his former mentor who now sits in a hospital awaiting trial, it is easy to be swayed by the whisperings of sycophants and the gathering of a few thousand; and believe the nation is listening to what one has to say.

For his sake, one hopes he has gauged the public mood right.

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About Leo Alejandrino

The blog is principally a commentary on Philippine politics and economics.
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9 Responses to The Defense: A Stuttering Start

  1. The Nutbox says:

    Excellent analysis!

  2. roberto caguingin says:

    More than excellent and insightful! Very few people can all a spade a spade. Mr Alejandrino is one of them.

  3. christian cullen says:

    there is no doubt that the defense is going down the drain. i pity for karen jimeno for being used as a front for a bogus and corrupt thief justice. it will be remembered that those who do the crime must pay the time. karen jimeno’s family must be teetering over her involvement of this
    charade. karen if you are smart get the hell out there. you have just lost your credibility. poor
    karen.

  4. danny says:

    well just like everybody saying if you cannot win delay them.i fell sorry for karen jimeno too…she is on other side of the law she my be think if supposed to be easy just for been a spokewomen see how she look now ..not like the way see look before..

  5. Bien says:

    LOL, slow lang talaga yung iba. BBM and Lacson seems to be catching up to the Defense’s strategy. The dots do line up, and will all connect. People just tend to forget all the accusations the prosecution threw at the beginning in court, and in the media. Let the defense debunk them them all. After all, it is their turn now. Bakit ba parang natatae na lahat? LOL

  6. After all the analysis, the outcome lies on eight senators/jurors with a combination votes of nays, abstentions or absence.
    It’s a political trial, hence the numbers game. The “evidences” and “counter-evidences” are just for credence. They won’t matter much.
    An example is the ‘blanks’ in the SALN. No less than Sec Butch Abad admitted that he left ‘blanks’ in his own SALNs the past decades. Most, if not all, of the senators/jurors can relate to this not to mention most, if not all, of the members of the house. They know they also erred in their SALN.
    Impeachable offense? I don’t think so. Gosh, nobody will be left running the country if we base continuance of duties on perfect SALNs.

    • dan says:

      you have just mentioned the properte properties…..how about the bank accounts?

    • manuelbuencamino says:

      Mr. Garcia,

      1. Nobody is asking for perfection. Corona had more than enough chances to correct his SALNs. If you catch any other impeachable official who filed an “imperfect” SALN year after year after year then file an impeachment case against him. I will join you.

      (a.) No one is prohibiting Corona from filing impeachment cases against fellow justices who file “imperfect” SALNs. As a matter of fact, Corona should lead the way.

      2. Elected officials who filed “imperfect” SALNs can be dealt with through elections. Appointed officials who filed “imperfect” SALNs can be pressured to resign.

      (a) No one will be left to run the government is a ridiculous assertion. Don’t you want to remove dishonest officials? Besides, there are plenty willing to take the place of those who are removed.

      3. It is not a question of who has clean hands or who is holier. The issue is Corona was stupid enough to get caught. Stupidity is one more reason to impeach an official whose position requires probity.

      (a) The fact that everyone does it does not absolve anybody for the crime. It simply goes back to my point that in a society where everyone does it, the rule is don’t get caught. Now if you are stupid enough to get caught then you pay the price. Stupids don’t have a good track record at survival.

  7. tender onin says:

    I pity Atty. Karen Jimeno. She made a big mistake in accepting the offer to be one of the spokesperson of the defense. She was forced to lie and continuously lying in public and still stand on the side of Thief Justice. It’s quite acceptable and normal for her male lawyers-partners in the defense to lie and evade the truth but, for her as intelligent,pretty lady-lawyer, she is destroying her credibility and putting her family in shame!

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