The Basa Beso And Other Strange Stuff

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?

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About Leo Alejandrino

The blog is principally a commentary on Philippine politics and economics.
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11 Responses to The Basa Beso And Other Strange Stuff

  1. Alex says:

    The nation is no fool to believe Corona acted in good faith. It’s evident he’s hiding his true net worth which violates the basic requirement of a CJ to be a man of probity and integrity. Senators must vote to convict him.

    • Oguz Domingo says:

      I am for the acquittal. The manner he was being probed is beyond of my expectations. Prosecution lawyers seemed to be non-lawyers. They really messed up. They resorted to fishing expeditions of procuring evidence and they even used government agencies in their favor even violating some laws. In general, some of the congressmen, governors, mayors and even some senators are more filthy compared to CJ. Lessons are being learned and hope congressmen will do their job in making laws relative to the SALN and Foreign currency deposits that are precise, just and easy to understand.

      • Albert says:

        Prosecution may seemed weak but that the main point it. They may be weak, but still they were able to prove several things against CJ. Can you just imagine if the prosecution is composed of the current defense team and vice-versa.

      • manuelbuencamino says:

        Let’s be clear about this fishing expedition allegation: The AMLA report was produced by Corona’s witness. The $2.4M and the P80M was an admission from Corona.

  2. Alex says:

    Must convict him.

  3. Eryk says:

    Let’s remember the senator judges who will acquit Justice Cheap Corona.

  4. edroa says:

    Will the Fiipino people be disappointed by the out come? Definitely, yes.

    As in the Jessica Sanchez case we were all disappointed and the reason is the demographics of the voting public. In the case of American audience the profile of the largest segment of the total voters’ is largely white, young, middle to low class, with little sophistication, likes country western etc, etc. Jessica lost, not because Phil was better, she lost because the voting public was for the ideal archetype of the biggest segment of the voting public..
    …now, turning to the demographic or more appropriately the psychometric profile of the senator jurors these would be made up of typical politicians with their affiliations, resilient, pragmatic, have some (big or little) secret treasure troves that they would rather not reveal, happy with the status quo, have reservations to the notion of a completely graft free government, have dynastic tendencies, own interests to protect etc, etc.
    It is almost a no brainer to ask how their votes will be cast, but, hope springs eternal from the human breast.
    I have said it before and I am saying it now; the well prepared script would not have been delivered without the help of friends in the impeachment court. A stunt so elaborate and so painstakingly prepared hinged on its having to be played out in full. Would they have attempted the stunt if they were not assured that it would be allowed to be delivered in the manner that CJ did? The act needed complicit support from the impeachment court, the only way the stunt could be pulled off. It is a supreme act of skulduggery easily accomplished against a maladroit prosecution panel and an acquiescent impeachment panel.
    Liberality is the operative word in this super production. Without this the “zarzuela” would not have been possible.

    I recall CJ Corona when he first declared to sign the waiver on his bank accounts then set the conditions, he said “I am no fool”. Some say that JPE was fooled by the defense, I think he is neither maladroit and definitely no fool.

  5. Albert says:

    Five months since we first started listening to this. Five months since we waited eagerly for the CJ to testify. Five months of legal questions and answers that some (if not most) Filipino people wouldn’t understand. And thankfully it is now coming to a closure. Majority of the Filipino people indeed is waiting for a conviction. I for one is waiting for a conviction. 80+ million pesos in bank deposit and he is claiming that he only owns 3.5 million pesos of it. I agree that the CJ deserves a respect out of the position he holds but let us not forget that the statement was only taken of its face value. There was no proof that some of it was owned by BGEI. There was no proof that some of it was owned by her daughter. There was no proof on how much was the interest was for those accounts. The Impeachment Court only took the CJ words for it out of respect but this should not mean they must believe it. If CJ has documentary proof on his claims regarding that peso accounts, he should have done a Conchita Carpio-Morales move (waved the documents and showed to the court). Why did it took five months (and one confinement) before CJ issued a waiver in his dollar accounts if he has nothing to hide? Was it because they knew that the prosecution and the Impeachment court wouldn’t act on it? If the Ombudsman can issue the waiver few hours after her name was maligned by the CJ, what took so long for the CJ to do it? Is it the FCDU law? Anybody what hasn’t done anything wrong wouldn’t took that long to issue that waiver regardless of the applicable law. Besides, FCDU is directed to the bank. He can always request the statement of account from a bank ANYTIME during the last five months and submit it as evidence just to prove his innocence. He did not do it. Why? If he did, we could have settled this earlier.

  6. jo says:

    most of us convict thief justice so our senators except for mirriam en marcos .

  7. franz says:

    the problem of this land is not about laws, it’s about leaders twisting and never implementing the laws. in the case of CJ Corona, he is one of those who are following the norms of…… cheating. if senator-judges will convict him, a prcedence will be established to scrutinize and grill all high-ranking government officials. if he will be acquitted, the public will be disappointed but the issue will just dissipate in few weeks…if we are seroius about transparency and good governance, we may ask ourselves some basic questions:
    1. are we honest enough in our day to day activities?,
    2. how far and how long can we tolerate our cheating neighbors?,
    3. do we report crimes such as cheating, human and environmental abuses to authorities?,
    4. can authorities serve and protect its people, especially those witnesses/reporters of crimes?,
    5. if beacuse of friendship we want peace and harmony then, how do we draw the line between justice and mercy?

  8. The lotus says:

    The Vote on Monday or Tuesday will be 22 senators Unanimous for Conviction.

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