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Chief Justice on Trial
Fr. Jun Mercado OMI

Collapse of the impeachment game?

March 1, 2012 3:45pm
Many are beginning to surmise whether we are beginning to see the end game of the impeachment trial even before the defense begins presenting their witnesses.
No doubt, the 188 members of the lower House believed that when they affixed their signatures to the eight articles of impeachment, the cases against Chief Justice Renato Corona would need NOT be proven since they actually aim for a trial by publicity that would precipitate the resignation of the chief justice of the Supreme Court.
The prosecution began the ‘trial’ in a press conference showing the 45 or so houses and mansions allegedly belonging to CJ Corona. They claimed that they had strong evidences that would convict CJ Corona for culpable violation of the Constitution, high crimes like treason and the betrayal of public trust. Of the three cases against CJ Corona, the ‘betrayal of public trust’ is found to be the most ticklish and nebulous one, yet the easiest when the trial is by publicity.  
Eight articles of impeachment were filed against CJ Corona. But in the end, there were NO clear evidences at hand. A controversial bank document that was attached to the supplementary pleading by the prosecution, however, was the pass or key to gain access to the bank accounts of CJ Corona by way of subpoena.  
The whole pandemonium began when the PS Bank Katipunan branch manager said that the controversial document showing the bank accounts of CJ Corona was ‘fake’. But by comparison with the originals in the BS Bank, the controversial documents, albeit bearing about 40 discrepancies with the originals, are actually pretty accurate as to the bank account numbers and the entries therein. But fake or leaks, the bank accounts had been made public!
Upon close scrutiny, the only two possible sources of leaks are either through the bank manager herself or any responsible bank people with access to bank accounts of CJ Corona, or the leak came from the direct prying of the Anti-Money Laundering Council’s agent into CJ Corona’s account when the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) conducted an audit of the Katipunan branch of PS Bank.
Whichever the case, many opine that a forgery is a forgery, and a leak is a leak. Both are felonies and clear violations of the banking laws of the Philippines. In short, the attachment of the fake or leaked document would appear as a simple ploy to get a subpoena from the presiding officer of the impeachment trial.  
A dilemma now confronts the jurors in the impeachment trial. First is to declare all the evidences so far marked as inadmissible, being fruits of the so-called ‘poison’ tree. Second is allow all fishes ‘caught’ in the prosecution’s wide and clear illegal fishing expedition into the PS Bank and BPI as admissible evidences in the trial.
Some people would say that a fish is still a fish albeit caught through illegal expedition! The popular sentiment is to accept all these findings into CJ Corona’s bank accounts legal or illegal. Keep a closed eye as to the means employed whether through fraud or leaks. But the fact remains that a felony is a felony whatever the political color! The real issue at bar is the principle that the end can NEVER justify the means.   
Then by a sudden change in the winds, the prosecution made a manifestation that the 8 articles of impeachment would now be reduced to three – Article 2, Article 3 and Article 7.  The prosecution now ‘drops’ articles of impeachment 1, 4, 5, 6 and 8. Whoa! Is this a case of believing that the three articles so far tackled are enough to convict CJ Corona? The suspicion is that the prosecution cannot produce witnesses for the remaining 5 articles of impeachment. 
Does the prosecution’s move constitute a change in the article of impeachment?
The massive rally of the Iglesia ni Cristo nationwide introduces a new complication. The INC changes the trial equation in view of the mid-national elections in 2013, especially for the Senate wannabes. They need to weigh the cost between two positions. The first is the support of the PNoy administration for their Senate bid and second is the support of the INC’s bloc voting prowess. 
Are we seeing the collapse of prosecution’s proverbial house of cards? Whatever the case, the people are bored except for the ‘fiery’ lectures of Maid Miriam. Definitely, there would be no love lost if the impeachment trial would come to an end. There are two options: either the Presiding Officer returns the articles of impeachment to the House for better preparation or simply allow the collapse of the prosecution’s card game. 
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