Malacanang Statement on the statement of CJ Corona

Statement of Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda:On the opening statement of Mr. Corona
[May 22, 2012]
In an unprecedented display of liberality, the Senate Impeachment Court has accorded Mr. Corona the widest possible latitude to make the most of his day in court. It did so, by allowing him the unprecedented privilege of an opening statement, unlimited in scope and duration. This is in fulfillment of the Senate’s pledge to guarantee Mr. Corona the fullest exercise of his right to due process.
This opportunity to confront your accusers is at the heart of our system of justice. Where evidence is presented, and where it can be proven or disproved by opposing counsel.
Mr. Corona squandered the opportunity. First, he resorted to the same arguments along the same lines used by people who want to remove President Aquino from office. Then, Mr. Corona issued a waiver—only to reveal it was a conditional waiver. And he further compounded insult with injury by walking out of the court, without leave of the Senate. The result was an unprecedented lockdown of the premises of the Senate, in order to assert its authority and the dignity of the court. Never has there been a more blatant attempt to manipulate a duly constituted court. Never has there been such an obvious attempt to stage-manage judicial proceedings.
It does not help Mr. Corona that after having been given the highest consideration by the Senate, after giving his side he tried to leave the proceedings, as if to say he is the only one who should be heard.
This case has always been imbued with truly profound issues of constitutional lawArticle XI Sec. 17 of the Constitutionrequires disclosure of assets. Mr. Corona, however, proposes that an ordinary law, RA 6426 holds supreme over the Constitution’s requirements. But first and foremost, it is about accountability: about the character and behavior of the head of a branch of government of whose members none but the highest ethical standards are required at all times.
Impeachment is the instrument for determining if a high official otherwise guaranteed a fixed term, can and should be dismissed as a danger to the state or unworthy of high office. As the Senate ponders the testimony of Mr. Corona, one thing is sure: all dangerous avenues that may lead to questioning the Senate, and the conduct of its proceedings, have been closed, by Mr. Corona asking for, and being given, this unprecedented opportunity to speak his mind—and disclose his cavalier attitude to our institutions, the law, and the truth.
Supplementary statement:
On the implications of Corona’s behavior in the Senate
We would like to emphasize that the witness stand is not a place for declamation. Our system of justice subjects all evidence to the test for truth. When a witness is presented, the testimony is subjected to cross-examination to see if it can withstand close examination. Truth should withstand scrutiny, and the job of lawyers is to find it.
But what Mr. Corona did, instead, was to make a speech. The man tasked with being the defender of the Constitution, and upholder of the law, denied the prosecution as the impeachment court, the opportunity to challenge his testimony. This is not the behavior of the chief magistrate of the land. His walkout sent the message that his is the only voice that is important; and that furthermore, that he considers himself exempt from the basic processes of confronting testimony –the process by which courts discover the truth.
Let us all remember the mandate of the Constitution, in Article XI, Sec. 17: “A public officer or employee shall, upon assumption of office and as often thereafter as may be required by law, submit a declaration under oath of his assets, liabilities, and net worth. In the case of the President, the Vice-President, the Members of the Cabinet, the Congress, the Supreme Court, the Constitutional Commissions and other constitutional offices, and officers of the armed forces with general or flag rank, the declaration shall be disclosed to the public in the manner provided by law.”
Let us not forget Mr. Corona’s proposal, which he did not allow anyone to challenge by confronting him in court, that to his mind, a Republic Act holds supreme over this clear mandate of the Constitution.