For all the hype, the impeachment trial ended with a whimper. By Tuesday the Senate will render a verdict which will have nothing to do with anything.
It certainly will have little to do with evidence or conscience.
Thus, for all the information (and misinformation) that has been presented, the Senators will go almost exclusively on Corona’s testimony, a narration that was long on everything but documentary support. The Senate was asked to take his word at its face and they will.
After all the hullabaloo about the bank waiver, suddenly nobody was interested, not the Senators, not the Prosecution. The Senate said it was not its job to confirm the CJ’s bank accounts. It was “a hearer of facts” not “a producer of evidence”. The Prosecution begged off too: They were afraid the bank numbers would be closer to the CJ’s than theirs. Perhaps the waiver can be passed on to the Ombudsman and the BIR.
Much has and will be said of the Prosecution, but the essence is they just ran out of gas and ideas. They just want to go home, it is no longer fun. They reduced the Articles from 8 to 3. They no longer crossed the CJ. The last thing they wanted was the CJ’s waiver.
One can empathize with them. The 45 properties ended being 5, the 82 accounts 4, the P 677 million in net worth maybe P200 million, the 10 million dollars 2.4 million. That kind of thing can be exhausting.
The case will not hinge on conscience either. That was clear based on the leading questions, the fluff being proffered to the CJ by certain Senators on Friday. Here, sir, please hit it out of the park.
The CJ has admitted to P80.7 MM in peso and $2.4 MM in dollar deposits (P 103 MM) or a total of P183 MM. The man declared cash in his 2010 SALN of P3.5 MM. The pesos were allegedly co-mingled funds: P34.7 MM in BGEI money, P8 MM in interest, P15 MM of his daughter, P4 MM of his son and P2MM of his mom/brother ; which still leaves P17 MM of his own unless I missed something. Anyway, nobody is asking for proof.
The judgment of the Senators boils down to (A) whether foreign currency need be declared under the SALN; (B) even if required, whether non–disclosure is an impeachable offense if he acted in good faith; and (C) based on BGEI and others, whether the CJ is morally fit to hold his office.
On the dollars, Corona stated “the absolute rule” is these cannot be disclosed under the FCDU law. Two things: (1) The law does not prohibit voluntary disclosure. In fact the CJ did just that last Friday; and (2) You can still declare the peso equivalent of the dollars without disclosing their nature. This is the standard accounting practice.
Is under-declaration of one’s SALN an impeachable offense? When does good faith become bad faith, when the discrepancy is over P100 MM (as with the CJ), P500 MM or P1 billion? Maybe $2.4 MM is no longer what it used to be.
Is the CJ morally fit to be Chief Justice? His involvement (or not) in the BGEI case speaks of his character but in the 9th inning the Basas stole the thunder. Their (million peso) hugs on national television suggested a nice settlement has been reached in the family. Henceforth to be known as the Basa Beso, it is defined as a social greeting among formerly warring relatives to denote money is thicker than blood.
After the CJ’s defamation of Jose Basa and the righteous indignation of his kin, we may be disappointed how easily money can change things, but who are we to judge? The Basas will be history by the end of the week so why not take the cash and run? The Impeachment will at least have had a happy ending for them.
The Senators vote in the next 72 hours. The case will be decided not by evidence, conscience, public opinion, the Prosecution nor the Defense. The matter will be decided by the CJ, the Senators and, lest we forget, the shadows behind them.
Here is my read on the vote:
The likely to acquit: Marcos, Arroyo, Santiago, Estrada.
The leaning to acquit: Honasan, Sotto.
The undecided: Lapid, Revilla, Legarda, Pimentel, Cayetanos (2), Escudero, Villar; with the Silent Duo (ironically) being key.
The leaning to convict: Angara, Lacson, Osmena.
The likely to convict: Drilon, Pangilinan, Guingona, Trillanes, Recto.
The hoping his vote will not make a difference: Enrile.
You know what, forget what I just said: There are no undecided. The Prosecution and Defense can dispense with their closing arguments. Just take the darn vote.
Will the majority of the nation be disappointed by the outcome?