The Defense’s case is theirs to lose. They only need 8 Senate votes to acquit of which 2 are in the bag, 4-5 leaning, leaving only 1-2 to go from half a dozen undecided.
Yet they are acting as if they are behind in the count.
They have asked Sen. Angara to inhibit himself from the proceedings because he is related by blood to the Prosecution and, supposedly, by money to the Administration. What took them so long to figure this out?
This is the third attempt to impugn certain judges.The first was against Sen. Drilon for bias. The second was against unnamed Senators for potentially selling their votes to Malacanang. Perhaps the Defense should ask Senators Guingona, Pangilinan and Recto to recuse themselves for being in the Liberal Party; Sen. Lacson for disliking Gentleman Mike; Enrile and Joker for being over-age; and Revilla and Lapid for only speaking when spoken to.
Whoever dreamt this new psycho war must be either on medication, unsettled by the CJ’s unfavorable poll ratings, or simply losing their cool. Is the end game starting to take its toll?
The other weird call was to revisit the Basa Guidote Enterprise (BGEI) affair.
To recap, in 1995 the siblings of Cristina Basa Corona, the CJ’s wife, publicly denounced her for improper handling of BGEI’s finances. Cristina filed a libel case against her relatives, her uncle Jose Ma. Basa III in particular; and won P500,000 in damages (as well as his imprisonment). Jose Basa died in 2002 which technically extinguished his liability. Still, Cristina was reportedly able to secure a writ of execution against the dead man. In 2003 the BGEI shares of Jose Basa (representing 91% of the company) were auctioned to satisfy the claim with only the sheriff, Cristina and her daughter, Carla, allegedly in attendance. Carla purportedly bought the shares (and therefore the controlling interest in BGEI) for P28,000. At the time BGEI had P34.7 million in cash, proceeds from the sale of the company property. The cash was put in trust with Cristina. Sister Flor, the 90-year old aunt of Cristina, has struggled to find kind words for her niece which, from an ageing nun, means something.
As a lawyer and husband, the CJ must have known of the unusual goings on.
The BGEI narrative may help explain the provenance of the P34 million in the CJ’s bank account; but PR-wise it is only slightly less toxic than Agent Orange. It depicts the Coronas as, well, not the relatives you want over for Christmas dinner.
The Chief Justice has decided to take the witness stand reportedly against the advise of Counsel. It could be an act of honor, to bare his soul (and dollar accounts) in response to the public clamor. It could be an act of conviction, to lay it all on the line. It could be an act of doubt: In his mind he may not have the votes to acquit so he needs his testimony to seal the deal.
The decision is high-risk. He exposes himself to queries that not only bear on his duties as a civil servant but also on his propriety as a private individual not least in relation to BGEI.
BGEI is not part of the Impeachment Articles and the CJ may refuse to field inquiries on this. Nonetheless, in the public mind, the BGEI narrative speaks on the character of the man and his moral fitness to preside over the laws of the land. The question is whether the Senators are listening. With the nation watching, JPE, the presiding officer, will be tested on how far to stretch the limits of inquest.
The Defense’s other hurdle is the dollar accounts alleged by the Ombudsman. Carpio-Morales has the authority to investigate the deposits using the SALN waiver required of all public officials. Hopefully she has done her homework and this is not one of those discredited 45 properties.
The CJ has confidently denied the Ombudsman’s claims, he knows what he knows. So after their testimonies, only one version will be left standing. Whichever one, the Prosecution, the Defense and the Ombudsman are all in.
Whether borne out of honor, conviction, hubris or desperation, the CJ’s decision to testify is, arguably, a service to the nation if indeed he will bare all, even on matters tangentially but appropriately related to his persona. His testimony will hopefully erase the obfuscation, smoke and mirrors that have characterized the impeachment proceedings.
People just want the truth. Whether in fact we will finally get it is something we can only await.