Press Release
May 29, 2012

Day 44 of the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Corona

Magandang hapon po sa lahat.

This trial and this court, the entire process, its completion is a historic redemption of our justice system. We owe that in great measure to the brilliance, sense of fairness and firm resolve of our presiding officer, no less the Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile. I say redemption because this same process failed to achieve justice for my own father, former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada. It failed because clearly the plan was to resolve the issue in the streets. And it failed sadly because the presiding officer at the trial of my father proved to be a partisan himself. Those sordid events led this nation to nine years under the rule of a woman, a small woman, who was installed by the rule of the mob and the imprimatur of a Supreme Court that succumbed to the pressure of that mob.

I am more than sure that my father would have been given the chance to be heard fairly, justly and squarely katulad ng pagkakataon na ipinagkaloob ng impeachment court na ito kay Chief Justice Corona. Had the impeachment rules been strictly implemented then in 2001, those private prosecutors who disrespected this court by walking out, thus robbing my father the chance to defend himself, would not have been allowed to do so, much less be held in contempt.

Today we confront and make history. We make a historic decision this day to pass judgment on the chief magistrate of the Supreme Court of this nation after 44 gruelling days of trial spread out in four difficult months. Our people followed this trial closely and in this exercise we have demonstrated to them and to the international community that our country adheres and subscribes to the supremacy of the democratic framework and the majesty in fulfilling the mandate of the most basic of all our laws - the Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines.

Sa paglilitis na ating isinagawa sa harap ng sambayanang Pilipino, itinaguyod natin sa ating Senado ang itinadhana ng ating Saligang batas. Binigyang-buhay natin ang diwa ng mga proseso ng ating batas at bingyan natin ng patas na pagdinig ang panig ng taga-usig at ng nasasakdal.

Today, I join the nation in a fervent prayer that we can begin healing the wounds inflicted by the pain of this trial. We pray that we can as soon as possible bring closure to this painful episode in the annals of our country. I pray that as we conclude this defining moment, we can unite again as a nation, as a society and attend to the many pressing problems that face us.

I take the view after hearing the arguments and counter-arguments that the Chief Justice did not include in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth his SALN, US$ 2.4 million and 80.7 million pesos. - this he admitted in open court. Napatunayan ng depensa na hindi 45 properties, kung hindi 5 lamang. Hindi 82 dollar accounts, kundi 4 lamang. At hindi 10, 11, 12 million dollars, kung hindi 2.4 million dollars lamang. But these numbers are irrelevant because the most important question is: "Itong limang real properties, apat na dollar accounts na may halagang 2.4 million dollars ba ay idineklara ng tama? Idineklara ba ito sa takdang oras o panahon?" Ang sagot ko po ay hindi.

It was argued by the defense panel that the non-inclusion of dollar deposits by the Chief Justice in his SALN was made in good faith and is covered by the provision of absolute confidentiality under the Foreign Currency Deposits Act. I regret to say that I am not convinced. Because the Chief Justice is a learned man of law. He is in fact, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court - isang opisyal na hindi lamang malalim ang kaalaman sa batas, kundi isang opisyal na may tungkuling basahin kung ano ang ibig sabihin ng mga batas. Bilang Punong Mahistrado, siya ay dapat na may higit na kaalaman at pag-unawa sa diwa ng batas at tungkulin niyang ipatupad ito nang walang bahid na pagtatakip sa pansariling interes. And I believe that the framers of the Foreign Currency Deposit Act did not intend to create the opportunity for public officials to conceal their assets or stash away foreign currencies under this law.

I therefore make this painful decision with a heavy heart but confident that we have given justice to our people. Sa kadahilanang ito, wala akong pag-aalinlangan ngayon na ang nasasakdal ay nagkasala at lumabag sa itinadhana ng ating Saligang Batas. Sa wikang Ingles, in my eyes, he is guilty.

Maraming salamat po.

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