I said I’d refrain from commenting on the Senate’s trial of Justice Corona, but I’m alarmed at the silence of this country’s lawyers about the process.
Citizens of this country is given the constitutional rights of non-deprivation of life, liberty, or property without due process of law and “to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures”. The trial has, on all angles, defied these, and by the same institution (Senate) that is supposed to uphold the Constitution.
If I were on the side of the defense, I’d battle for a technicality, which to me is the fulcrum of the Corona case: By what means was the knowledge of the supposedly ill gotten wealth of Corona sourced? Did spies sneak into Corona’s house and ala Jason Bourne work out the algebraic combination to his vault? Were his personal effects wire-tapped?
Information from sneaky and shady means are not permissible as outright evidence against a person, which is why governments in possession of information gathered by their spies do not go around the neighborhood accusing world leaders of corruption. Imagine the disorder and chaos in society if it were so.
There is an orderly process governing evidence.
Due process in Corona’s case is good as getting into a fight in the boxing ring, cold (unprepared). The SALN should have been the evidence presented at the onset to back up the claim that the Justice has questionable wealth; the evidence that could, in a pre-trial, determine the viability of the case.
But look what’s happening. It is only now, after damages thrown at the accused, that the SALN is being produced.
Another thing is that the presentation of his SALN should be on the accusers, and the defense to query the accusers for the truthfulness of information in the SALN as well as for the justifiable reason for why the accusers are wont to look into his SALN.
What’s happening with Corona’s SALN is like a random person going to BIR for a copy of, say, a Senator’s tax returns. Why would a random person want to secure that Senator’s tax returns? It doesn’t make sense. Unless.
The trial by the Senate, whose members are not trial lawyers and many not even versed in the profession of lawyering, is, in local speak, kabarumbaduhan. It’s the law in the hands of street gangs.
Worse, the press, such as this journalist of Midland Courier, and, the President too, saying that “if Corona has nothing bad to hide then why not show it all?” This is a bully’s taunt. It’s like challenging a person to show his or her undies in public just to confirm that he or she is indeed wearing nice underwear. If that person is as insane as the challenger, he or she would strip down as challenged. Or, that person could be bullied into doing it.
It’s like the devil taunting Jesus in the desert to turn the stone into bread, if He is indeed God as what Jesus says He is. He didn’t. Does that then mean Jesus isn’t God?
When Nelson Mandela himself a lawyer was his own defense in his Pretoria trial, he negotiated that he be tried by another court, because he knew that the court has already judged him before he has even presented his defense. He wasn’t granted the request and as he has known it, was eventually sentenced to jail.
The accused has been judged guilty even before presentation of evidence. If judgment before evidence is the order of the world, why bother to go through the eye of the needle to earn a degree in law? Similarly, why bother to study medicine when diseases could be diagnosed by anybody and treated with cow’s urine?
My point is, due process. It’s a scarier world when people who think they’re above the law would just pluck off any one from the street and into jail, without due process. It is said that martial law in the time of Marcos was like this, but how come it’s still a current reality? Ninoy Aquino is said to be a victim of this sort of justice, but why is it being wielded by the son?
The Senators contend that their branch of government has a faster way of dealing justice. I’m fearful of this reasoning. It’s like a dermatologist operating on the heart of a stroke patient. What’s needed are reforms in the justice system so that this branch of government could do its job well and fast, not the Senate assuming the role.