Why would anyone take a battle contained on one front and spread it to another? Without knowing the enemy’s weapons?
That was the first thing that came to mind as the defense counsels of Chief Justice Renato Corona tried to stop Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales from presenting a Powerpoint report on the alleged the dollar accounts of the Chief Magistrate.
As the defense lawyers in the Corona impeachment trial have repeatedly told us, this was their turn to present witnesses. It was supposedly their day. They were going to skewer the Chief Justice’s detractors.
Corona’s counsels are not greenhorns. They’re among the country’s highest paid lawyers. A couple of them are grudgingly admired by colleagues (even on the prosecution side) for being “sharks” – which makes you wonder about their admirers.
So why did they call in the Ombudsman?
Did they bite the bait? Did the case filed by activists with the Ombudsman provoke the Batangeno’s macho pride? Or did the initial bumbling by prosecution lawyers in the impeachment trial make the defense overconfident?
Perhaps a combination of both is at the root of the defense’s current troubles. And then there’s hubris. Impunity will do that, see. Getting away once, twice, thrice… can lull one into believing it can be forever.
The funny thing is, there is no way you can blame this on the administration. The defense’s effort to play the conspiracy game fell flat this time.
“A member of Chief Justice Renato Corona’s defense team on Monday said he was surprised that the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) had already issued a report onCorona’s dollar accounts to the Office of the Ombudsman.
‘Yun ang nakakagulat. Meron na pala yung dokumento na yan. Dapat inilabas na yung dokumento bago pinasagot si Chief Justice sapagkat parang gusto talagang igisa sa sariling mantika. Bakit hindi ordinaryo yung proseso,’ defense lawyer Rico Quicho said.
Quicho said Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales ‘went the extra mile’ in trying to ferret out the truth aboutCorona’s alleged dollar deposits.”
So addled was the defense that Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile had to read them the constitutional provision that allows the Office of the Ombudsman to seek help from any government agency in the pursuit of its functions. Carpio-Morales sought help from the AMLC and the Commission on Audit (CoA).
What the AMLC can’t do is to leak the results of its investigation. That was the reason, I guess, for the legend of the little lady and for the limited data presented to the Senate.
Waiting for CJ
- $12 million in fresh accounts that haven’t moved.
- $10 million that flowed in and out of various shelters much like the way those circus guys shuffle shells.
And that’s for starters. I’m not even going to comment on the Ombudsman’s speculation that the moves coincided with key elections under the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
I’m not saying everything is correct and true. I’m saying, the numbers are just too much to shrug off. I’m saying, this is something the Chief Justice will have a hard time living down even if, as I write this, he is calling the Ombdusman’s numbers bloated. Even if he says her Powerpoint is “a lantern of lies.”
Notice, he doesn’t dispute the bank accounts. Only the numbers.
There are always battles to lose. But as they say in basketball, the loudest jeers are reserved for those who dunk into the opponent’s goal.
One should still give the Chief Justice the benefit of the doubt. But he must really stop with the press conferences and hustle off to face the music. He must appear to explain all those transactions. He can either deny and show proof (and sue everyone to hell and back) or explain. IF he can.