Senator Loren Legarda’s Decision on the Impeachment Trial of Chief Justice Renato C. Corona

May 29, 2012

Senator Loren Legarda
Impeachment Trial of Chief Justice Renato C. Corona
Senate Session Hall
May 29, 2012

Mr. President, sambayanang Pilipino,
Hindi po madaling humusga ng kapwa, lalo na kapag ang nasasakdal ay ang Punong Mahistrado. Mahirap pong humusga sapagkat tayo ay tao lamang.
Ngunit ito po’y isang sagradong tungkulin na ating dapat gawin.
It is a sacred mandate I must keep.
And I do it, in all honesty and sincerity, without anything in exchange, without bending to any perceived pressure, but borne out of intensive study, contemplation and prayer.
Mr. President,
While we ponder on the three articles of impeachment, the most robust documentary and testimonial evidence and debates have centered around Article II.
I therefore select Article II as the anchor of my verdict because I hold that public and truthful disclosure of assets, liabilities and net worth by a public official is a key and fundamental element of governing through the norms of transparency and accountability and a centerpiece principle of democracy. Disclosure of SALN is the only window by which the public can judge whether or not we have undeservedly enriched ourselves in public office. Through it, we, as public officials, earn public trust. Public trust is not simply an administrative entitlement by those in government.
Mr. President,
I am disappointed that concessions of disclosure of SALN and the waiver of bank secrecy have only been belatedly and calculatedly done when these have been rendered moot by the practical turn of events.
I also believe that interpretations in the wordings of the law should not obscure the charge of betrayal of public trust supported by evidence. For public trust is earned through transparent, often voluntary, gestures of honesty by officials in question, and not solely by legal argumentation, no matter how sophisticated.
In casting my vote, Mr. President, my chief concern is the credibility and trust of our people in the most important institution of our land, whose mandate is to interpret the law and render wise and fair judgment equally to all.
Sa dinami-rami po ng mga argumentong legal, ebidensiya at pati na po ng napakaraming PowerPoint presentations na inilatag ng prosekusyon at mg depensa sa paglilitis na ito, isa pong kaso na hinatulan ng Korte Suprema noong 1997 ang tumawag sa aking pansin. Ito po ay ang kaso ng isang kawani ng hudikatura, isang interpreter sa Regional Trial Court na siyang tinanggal sa serbisyo dahilan sa hindi niya nadeklara ang kanyang negosyo sa palengke sa kanyang SALN.
Ginoong Pangulo,
Kung ang ating mga batas tulad ng Republic Act 6713 ay nagpaparusa ng dismissal sa isang ordinaryong kawani ng gobyerno sa paglabag ng mandato upang maiwasan ang katiwalian, wala po akong nakikitang dahilan para po hindi ipatupad ang parehong batas na ito sa isang Punong Mahistrado.
Mr. President,
We are all guided by the basic principle of equal application of the law.
And in Thomas Jefferson’s own words, “It is certainly for the good of the whole nation…to deal law and justice to all by the same rule and the same measure.”
If we acquit the Chief Justice, we would tragically lift the floodgate for public suspicion and widespread distrust on the highest institution of our judicial system. We also lower the bar of public accountability of government officials.
It was not easy, it is painful, but we must do it.
I therefore vote for removal from public office. I vote to convict.