The real issue

THE clash between the prosecutors and lawyers of Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona is creating side issues that tend to distract the people’s focus from the reasons why the controversial magistrate was impeached.

Instead of belying the prosecution’s documentary proof detailing Corona’s cash deposits, defense lawyers are raising technical issues like the inadmissibility of the said bank documents as evidence. They want the information on his almost P32 million bank deposits stricken off the records even if it is already an opened can of worms.

What is apparently important to Corona’s lawyers is not the truth but the maintenance of a legal fiction that their client’s bank accounts didn’t ever exist.

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Corona, in a recent statement, said the wealth being attributed to him can be satisfactorily explained by virtue of his family’s affluence.

So Corona say his wealth is not ill-gotten but he conveniently ignored the prosecutors showing that he repeatedly did not declare over the years such wealth in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth or SALN as strictly required by law. (Note that the Corona-led Supreme Court has ruled in several instances that lowly government employees deserved to go to jail for even minor discrepancies and omissions in their SALNs.)

Be aware that even before Corona became a SC associate justice in 2002, the high tribunal already stressed the indispensability of honesty in filling-up the SALN especially by the members/employees of the judiciary.

The SC, when it fired a court interpreter in 1997 who did not declare ownership of a market stall, explained in an en banc decision: “We have repeatedly held that although every office in the government service is a public trust, no position exacts a greater demand for moral righteousness and uprightness from an individual than in the judiciary.”

“Personnel in the judiciary should conduct themselves in such a manner as to be beyond reproach and suspicion, and free from any appearance of impropriety in their personal behavior, not only in the discharge of their official duties but also in their everyday life…”

It is not just the questionable accumulation wealth per se but more importantly the failure to be truthful that should determine whether an impeachable official is fit to remain in office. (Pls. continue reading at

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