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Thoughts on CJ Corona’s ‘Walkout’ from the Impeachment Court

My immediate thoughts as Chief Justice Renato Corona excused himself yesterday from the impeachment court and got up to leave with alacrity was that he sounded a lot like the head of a co-equal branch of government saying what was the equivalent of “I’m done with all of you, now I take my leave, ta-ta, thank you very much!”

And off he sped to everyone’s consternation; yes, even his own defence counsels. Lead counsel Cuevas’ demeanour, for once, was simply priceless! Excusing his client’s actions before the court and without bothering to turn off the microphone pleading with somebody in the defence panel ‘habulin mo’ (run after him) was almost comical.

So, thus ended three hours of mind-shrivelling and mind-numbing ‘testimony.’ It was fascinating in parts; yawn-inducing in some; and stomach-churning as well in other parts.

If we were all to set aside our preconceptions and our biases, we will all agree that the past few months could not have been fun for the Chief Justice and his family. Yet, those who rather tended to wait till the distinguished senators released their verdict or, perhaps, even slanted in his favour would probably still have wished that some of the things that he told the court, he had kept to himself instead.

The private prosecutor’s protestations merely verbalized what many people must have been thinking: that the Chief Justice – of all people – ought to know better than to be mouthing words against personalities that were not only unsupported by documents submitted for the court’s perusal but were also as much shameless politicking as that of the administration that he thinks has been doing nothing but persecuting him from Day One.

After giving the entire session a bit of thought, I rather tend to come to the conclusion that everything that the Chief Justice said was never in the way of a testimony at all. Rather, it was a speech.

The hypoglycaemic episode and the wheelchair were probably less-contrived as some people suspect; and yes, appearing before the court must have been severely stressful for the Chief Justice. Still, these seemed no more than the fire department attempting to put out the fire.

Nobody knows except the Chief Justice himself; but it looked to me that he had every intention of leaving when he did. The Presiding Officer was understandably upset; but the way I look at things, they were coming from opposing points of view.

To Enrile, the Chief Justice was a witness sitting on his own behalf and to clear the loose ends that none of the witnesses previously called could shed any light on. To the Chief Justice – and I am conjecturing here – he was taking advantage of the attention of the entire nation to tell his side of the story.

Everything had the stench of throwing all caution into the winds; and if I may hypothesize further, the Chief Justice was probably thinking that he was simply paying back what he thought of as his persecutors for something that they had been doing to him and his family – in the media, primarily – for months.

Thus, to my mind, the Chief Justice probably came to deliver a speech; and not to testify.

Two of the countless points that he raised are, to my mind, thematically significant. First, he kept saying that the prosecution had proven nothing about the accusations against him. Second, he kept mentioning the ‘entire machinery of government.’

It sounded to me, therefore, like he did not care that he submitted no ‘hard’ evidences; that he broached no figures; and that he did not hold his punches in mentioning names. He sounded a lot like he was certain that nothing had been proven against him and that morally he ought to be acquitted; but also that he was resigned to the fact that he was a lightweight fighting against a heavyweight.

Yesterday, therefore, was all about speaking to the public and not necessarily the court. Probably foolhardy; but I will not be presumptuous in pretending to even imagine the stress that the Chief Justice and his family must have had to bear these past few months.

On the other hand, while it is perfectly understandable for ordinary men to lose their wits when under stress, he is the Chief Justice. He does not enjoy the luxury.

If he was impulsive, he may yet live to regret his own actions. I felt that these did him more harm than good; and in leaving the court the way he did – whatever the reasons – he only left more questions hanging than answered.

Somewhere in the midst of all these is the truth; except that none of us is any closer to it than when this entire impeachment business started.

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