May 29, 2012 · Posted in: General
IMPEACHMENT PRESIDING OFFICER Juan Ponce Enrile cast the 20th and final guilty vote on impeached Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato C. Corona, sealing Corona’s conviction for culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust for failing to make public all his assets.
Enrile cast his vote at six in the evening on the 44th day of an impeachment trial that has riveted and divided the nation in the last four months. Of the 23 senators, 20 senators voted for Corona’s conviction while three senators, Miriam Defensor Santiago, Joker Arroyo, and Ferdinand Marcos Jr., voted to acquit him.
The 20 senators who voted for Corona’s conviction were Senators Edgardo Angara, Alan Peter Cayetano, Pia Cayetano, Franklin Drilon, Francis Escudero, Jinggoy Estrada, Teofisto Guingina III, Gregorio Honasan, Panfilo Lacson, Lito Lapid, Loren Legarda, Sergio Osmena, Francis Pangilinan, Aquilino Pimentel III, Ralph Recto, Ramon Revilla, Vicente Sotto, Antonio Trillanes IV, Manuel Villar, and Juan Ponce Enrile. Only 16 votes were needed to convict Corona.
“With at least two thirds of all the members of the Senate having pronounced the respondent guilty, the chair, pursuant to Rule 21 of the rules of procedure on the impeachment trial, directs the judgment to be entered in accordance with the judgment of the senate,” Enrile said. “The Senate, sitting as an impeachment court, having tried Renato Corona, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, upon three articles of impeachment charged against him by the House of Representatives, by a guilty vote of 20 senators representing at least 2/3 has found him guilty of the charge of article II.”
Article II of the impeachment complaint reads as follows:
II. RESPONDENT COMMITTED CULPABLE VIOLATION OF THE CONSTITUTION AND/OR BETRAYED THE PUBLIC TRUST WHEN HE FAILED TO
DISCLOSE TO THE PUBLIC HIS STATEMENT OF ASSETS, LIABILITIES, AND NET WORTH AS REQUIRED UNDERSEC. 17, ART. XI OF THE 1987
2.1. It is provided for in Art. XI, Section 17 of the 1987 Constitution that “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, 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. ”
2.2. Respondent failed to disclose to the public his statement of assets, liabilities, and net worth as required by the
2.3. It is also reported that some of the properties of Respondent are not included in his declaration of his assets,
liabilities, and net worth, in violation of the anti-graft and corrupt practices act.
2.4. Respondent is likewise suspected and accused of having accumulated ill-gotten wealth, acquiring assets of high
values and keeping bank accounts with huge deposits. It has been reported that Respondent has, among others, a 300-sq.
meter apartment in a posh Mega World Property development at the Fort in Taguig. Has he reported this, as he is
constitutionally-required under Art. XI, Sec. 17 of the Constitution in his Statement of Assets and Liabilities and Net
Worth (SALN)? Is this acquisition sustained and duly supported by his income as a public official? Since his assumption
as Associate and subsequently, Chief Justice, has he complied with this duty of public disclosure?
In casting the final vote, Enrile went through the sub-articles of Article II and cited the arguments presented by both the defense and the prosecution.
But in the end, Enrile said what was clear was that Corona had not declared all his assets as required by law, and his arguments to justify the nondeclaration do not hold legal basis.
“His deliberate act of excluding substantial assets from his sworn SALN constitutes in my humble view a culpable violation of the constitution,” Enrile said.
Enrile said that in the course of the impeachment trial, he had a difficult time striking a balance “to ensure that we do not stray from the strictures of the Constitution.”
Enrile also lashed out at parties that he said had tried to manipulate both the senate impeachment court and public opinion with false data, or illegally acquired evidence that would not stand in court.
“We have witnessed with this day the indiscriminate and deliberate and illegal machinations of some parties who have been less than forthright with this court in presenting dubiously procured and misleading documents spread to media to influence court and public opinion,” Enrile said. Enrile cited the case where a letter from Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales to Corona had been leaked to the media.
Enrile also assailed what he called “a penchant to engage in trial by publicity and use media to disseminate information or evidence to provoke or disrespect this court,” he said.
Enrile added that he renders judgment with a sense of “heaviness.”
“The impact of many events since December 12, taken together, cannot compare to the sense of heaviness that I feel at this very moment. The culmination of this national drama is at hand, and the time has come for me to render judgment on the person before whom I took my oath of office as a senator of this republic, no less than the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court,” Enrile said.
Enrile also admitted that he had found it frustrating to watch how the prosecution handled its case.
“As a lawyer, I must confess I was personally frustrated by the hasty crafting of the charges contained in the articles of impeachment. It seems the case was only being built up only after the charges were filed,” Enrile said.
Enrile also threw out the argument of the defense that the few in government really bother to declare all their assets in their SALN. Enrile said that if the senate acquits Corona, this sends a signal to both the public and to the general public that no one can trust the contents of a SALN.
“If we were to agree with the Chief Justice that he was correct, can we ever expect any SALN to be filed by public officials no matter how high or low, from hereon to be more accurate and true than they are today? I don’t think so,” Enrile said.
“I am deeply concerned that the people may just so easily ignore, may forget, if not miss out, on the hard lessons we all must learn from this episode, instead of to grow and mature as citizens of a democratic nation,” Enrile added.