Posts Tagged ‘renato corona’

pop goes the world: vox senatus, vox populi

POP GOES THE WORLD  By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today,  31 May 2012, Thursday

Vox Senatus, Vox Populi

May 29 was a historic day for the country, when twenty senators to three voted to impeach Chief Justice Renato Corona after 44 days of trial.

iPhone 4S photo of screen showing live telecast of Senate impeachment proceedings, with tally of votes of senator-judges.

It had played out as a telenovela, with drama on both sides of the dispute grabbing the attention of the nation like no other broadcast production. Reality, after all, is always stranger and more interesting than fiction.

Over the course of the trial, the prosecution was derided for presenting a weak case, the defense for having no better rejoinder than finding loopholes to wiggle through. Fingers were pointed, blame denied and placed, innocence and good faith invoked.

In the end, most of the senators found that Corona’s failure to declare huge cash assets in his statement of assets and liabilities was unacceptable from a man whose position demands adherence to the highest standards of integrity.

Palusot, Congressman Rodolfo Fariñas described Corona’s three-hour explanation, nothing more than an attempt to glibly explain away behavior that violated the spirit of the law and degraded the position of the highest magistrate in the land. It is expected of a decent and honorable man that he own up for his failings. Corona’s whiny diatribe contributed to his diminishment in the eyes of many watching, including the impeachment court.

Concealment of assets is a practice of many who do not wish to pay high taxes or have their other sources of income found out as they may be in violation of the law or ethics, or for some other reason. Corona is not the only one doing this. This is what he implied when he dared the 188 congressmen and Senator Franklin Drilon to sign a waiver to permit their assets to be bared. After his own prevarication having been found out, we would have respected Corona more if he had admitted his mistake.

Looking back, he and his family would not have been subjected to the anguish and humiliation of this ordeal if he had resigned quietly early on and spared the country this scene and the P6 million it cost the national coffers for the impeachment trial.

This is the downfall of the arrogant, of those who thought that money and power would allow them to behave with impunity and disrespect to the Senate and the Filipino people. Corona’s storming out of the Senate Hall saying rudely “The Chief Justice wishes to be excused” is how he will be remembered from now on.

This country needs true leaders, people who are humble, honest, and sincere in a desire to serve in a leadership capacity and not lead in order to serve themselves and their agenda.

The 23 senators acquitted themselves honorably as a court. Whether they voted for pogi points, on their conscience, or on their principles and conviction, still they took a stand, and that after all was their duty to us, the Filipino people.

The senators’ personal conduct during the trial reflected upon themselves and not the court as a whole. From Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s histrionics, Lito Lapid’s simple speech in Tagalog, and Manuel Villar’s sulky outpouring of his past presidential campaign woes to Juan Ponce Enrile’s clear and erudite summation, all the senators’ speeches expose to us their characters and give us the basis for future decisions on whether to vote for them to continue serving in public office or not.

The trial itself is over. We learned and accomplished much. Now we can move on to the next important thing. Our lawmakers have shown that they can make significant decisions in the face of controversy, a sign of political maturation. Perhaps the Filipino people can now look forward to even more genuine social reforms that will show our country has respect for human rights and adheres to the highest values and principles of humanism.

Let the text of the judgment provide closure (caps and paragraph breaks theirs): “The Senate, sitting as an Impeachment Court, having tried Renato C. Corona, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, upon Three Articles of Impeachment charged against him by the House of Representatives, by a guilty vote of 20 Senators, representing at least two-thirds of all the Members of the SENATE, has found him guilty of the charge under Article II of the said Articles of Impeachment: Now, therefore, be it

“ADJUDGED. That Renato C. Corona be, and is hereby, CONVICTED of the charge against him in Article II of the Articles of Impeachment.

“WHEREFORE, in accordance with Article XI, Section 3 (7) of the Constitution, the penalty of removal from office and disqualification to hold any office under the Republic of the Philippines is hereby imposed upon respondent Chief Justice Renato C. Corona.

“SO ORDERED. 29 May 2012. Sgd, JUAN PONCE ENRILE, President of the Senate.” ***

Judgement of the Senate of the Republic of the Philippines in the impeachment case of Renato C. Corona. Image here. 

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pop goes the world: open sesame

POP GOES THE WORLD  By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today,  2 February 2012, Thursday

Open Sesame

The impeachment trial of Supreme Court chief justice Renato Corona is a can opener.

It has breached a can of worms, dragging into the light that which was hidden in the dark, away from the public, for too long. It has exposed the way some influential and wealthy people in this country conduct their affairs beyond the pale of the law or ethics.

The lengthy, drawn-out testimony on Corona’s SALN was mind-boggling. Clearly the man omitted to declare several different properties, notably expensive condominium units, among his assets.

A unit at McKinley Hills was declared as belonging to his daughter, whose income did not reflect the capability to pay for the property. The receipts also reflected the father’s name, while the deed of sale was made out to Corona and his wife, not the daughter.

The defense sought to explain this away by saying that the daughter was abroad during the time and the father acted as her representative. But why was the deed of sale made out in her parents’ name, rather than hers?

Next was the revelation of a P10 million discount on a unit in the posh Bellagio building given to Corona by developer Megaworld, for the reason the unit was “damaged.” Really? What a sweet deal. Where can I get me one of those? Obviously they’re not available to ordinary folk.

 High living: view from the corridor leading to Corona’s condo unit at the Bellagio. Image here.

These explanations reek of manipulation, of facts being massaged. We have a word for this in Tagalog – palusot.

One might ask, “Can’t a Supreme Court justice avail of property at a discount? Is there a law against that?”

It’s a question of ethics – “Caesar’s wife”, as we have heard several legal analysts quote.

The phrase refers to Julius Caesar’s second wife Pompeia, whom he divorced after her name was linked to the notorious rakehell Publius Clodius. Caesar knew there was no truth to the rumors swirling around the pair, yet he held that as ruler of Rome, his wife must be above all suspicion. “Caesar’s wife” therefore is someone of impeccable morals.

Pompeia, Caesar’s second wife, whom  he married in 67 BC. Image here. 

Public officials are held to higher standards than plain folk, and that is both their delight and their cross.

It is their delight to live a life by the highest moral standards and to be held in respect and esteem by their fellowmen.

It is their cross, because it is a burden to be thus set apart from others.

Yet this is what is asked of public servants – to live a life of sacrifice. Isn’t that so, political adviser Ronald Llamas?

The trial is also an eye-opener.

A lady legal analyst for a major news network said on Ted Failon’s radio show the other day, “Hindi pa gising ang tao.” They should be. With all that we have seen and heard, there is no turning back to the days when we were deaf and blind to the machinations of those in power.

Cheers to the following, who gave good face – Bureau of Internal Revenue commissioner Kim Henares, who did not crumble under the onslaught of questions; lawyer Noli Hernandez, who only told his witnesses “Tell the truth”; young legal eagle Joseph Joemer Perez, who has impressed everyone with his brilliance; and the indefatigable and endlessly entertaining Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, whose rapier-like wit and courage cuts through all the bullshit, everytime.

On Day 5 of the trial, tired of the deluge of rhetoric, she said, “…it behooves us to start with this principle: ‘Justice delayed is justice denied.’ Huwag na tayong magpa-epal dito dahil nawawalan ng gana ang nanonood. Tama na ‘yun. “

Much ado has also been made about the blazing intelligence of senator Juan Ponce Enrile (turning 88 on February 14) and retired Supreme Court justice Serafin Cuevas (83). Both evoke an earlier, more genteel era, where gentlemen of the law exchange courtly gestures while exchanging elegantly-crafted arguments based on research and sharp analysis.

Senator Juan Ponce Enrile. Image here.

Enrile, during this grueling process, shows aplomb and stamina. It’s been said that he studies about the case several hours each day, as does Cuevas, who even throws in half-an-hour of jogging before his mental preparation.

These elder statesmen are to be emulated by their younger counterparts, in terms of discipline and work ethics.

Meanwhile, the trial of the year continues, and is expected to drag on for several months. A middle-aged government lawyer, who has witnessed the trial in the Senate several times, sums it up as “a slow-moving political trial that has gone viral through the antics of the show-boating lawyers involved.”

My 13-year-old daughter, who is studying about the trial in their freshman high school social science class, asked, “Mama, CJ Corona was a midnight appointee, in violation of the Constitution. Is that not enough to have him removed from a position he should not be holding in the first place?”

My point, from the start.

* * * * *

Those interested in learning more about the creative process may regularly interact with writers at the monthly Openbook event of the Freelance Writers’ Guild of the Philippines.

The event is held every third Friday of the month, 730pm at Chef’s Bistro, Sct. Gandia, near Tomas Morato. The following authors have been featured: in 2011, novelist Samantha Sotto (September), essayist Bebang Siy (October), and novelist Tweet Sering (November). Screenwriter Ricky Lee kicked off 2012 with a guesting last month.

This month’s Openbook will be held on the 17th with Bebang Siy as host. Multi-awarded poet Joel Toledo, the night’s featured guest, will read from his Ruins and Reconstructions (Anvil Publishing, 2011).

A poetry reading will follow, with performances by Ramil Gulle, Nonilon Queano, Ceres Abanil, Abet Umil, Haresh Daswani, Veronica Laurel, Brandon Dollente, Rustum Casia, and myself, among others.

The FWGP, founded by Ime Morales in August 2011, is a group of Philippine-based freelance writers, among them journalists, copywriters, bloggers, researchers and documenters, literary writers, SEO experts.

The organization, says Morales, is “committed to protecting the welfare of freelance writers, and to elevating the quality of their work output.” To learn more, search for the group on Facebook. ***

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pop goes the world: impeachment as drama

POP GOES THE WORLD  By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today,  12 January 2012, Thursday

Impeachment as Drama

The ubiquity of communication media makes it possible for an entire nation to follow an impeachment trial that, back in the old days before television and television networks seeking to outdo each other in ratings, could only be viewed by a select few.

Government and court proceedings were filtered by information “middlemen” – journalists, writers, reporters – through the processes of agenda-setting and framing, whether performed unconsciously or not. The audience did not use to receive the entirety of the experience. This was made possible later on with the advent of the Internet, to the vastness of which reams of documents and footage could be uploaded. This could not be done in the limited space of print or regular broadcast channels.

With the rampant commercialization of the media, especially television, and the tougher arena brought about by a free-market environment and the number of competitors, networks playing the ratings game are forced to deliver what the public wants, in order to survive. And if the public wants to see more of this and less of the other, programming is developed to cater to those wishes.

Since today’s audience is politically savvy, a highly significant event such as the Corona impeachment trial is being given extensive coverage by the networks and others news organizations and individuals on the Internet.

Philippine Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona before the start of his impeachment trial. Image here.

While this easy access to information makes it possible for the audience to craft their own experience by picking and choosing their sources of news, the constant exposure also has a tendency to desensitize. The Corona trial is eagerly watched, almost as if it were the latest telenovela, as if these aspects of our country’s politics and governance were merely plot elements in a play.

The word drama comes from the Greek “to act” or “to do”. It must have characters who, in the course of their lives, somehow become involved in a conflict situation. The narrative follows their actions and reactions to the conflict, which at the end of the play are resolved.

People following the trial cast the characters in their minds as either “hero” or “villain” depending on their personal beliefs and convictions. And because the Internet, unlike traditional print and broadcast media, allow for instant and nearly unlimited feedback, it can bring out the best in people, who share insightful and meaningful comments, and the worst, through “trolls”, vicious-minded people who have no significant analysis and post only cruel and hurtful insults.

The trial is bringing out the true colors of people.

Apart from being seen as a drama, it is also being pegged in public perception as a sporting event. Facebook and Twitter users, especially the latter, post play-by-plays of the proceedings: “Si Cuevas parang nakikipagkwentuhan lang sa Starbucks.” “Dimaandal looks like he could use a beer.” “Bully, o.” Pass the popcorn.

Does this mean we no longer take important events such as impeachment trials seriously? Filipinos as a people have a dramatic nature – “romantic”, a creative writing professor of mine described it. Filipinos tend to exaggerate, inflate, and yes, dramatize even the most trivial of events.

Putting the impeachment trial on the level of a drama or sporting event underscores the tremendous interest that people are taking in the proceedings, because Filipinos care deeply about such things, and elevate telenovelas and the PBA to cult status. Treating the trial like “Flor de Luna” and Corona as bida or contrabida shows that we care what is happening to our country, that we want to participate in this even vicariously, and that if the only way we can be a part of this milestone event is to watch it, then by golly we will.

And we’ll discuss it, over bottles of beer at an after-office inuman or online, because by being aware of the unfolding of events and sharing our opinions on them we enter the play as actors ourselves, and thereby feel – even to a slight degree, even if it is an illusion – in control of our nation’s destiny.

Whatever the outcome of this impeachment, we will already have gained something valuable – we will have learned something more about ourselves as a people.

* * * * *

Award-winning photographer Dominique James, who is now based in the US, recently announced the launch of Blanc Worldwide, an “international photo collective” composed of six photographer-members: Dominique James (Atlanta) and Lester Callanta (Toronto), co-founders; and Kyo Suayan (San Francisco), Michael Mariano (New York), David Fabros (Manila), and Randy Tamayo (Melbourne), founding members.

Their online gallery at exhibits a landscape photograph from each member, available for a limited time to the public as fine art photographic prints.

According to Dominique James, “The two main goals of Blanc Worldwide are to provide professional representation of the Filipino photographers in the international arena, and to make their works available and accessible worldwide. The chosen images for Blanc Worldwide’s exhibition and exclusive print sale depicts aspects of the immediate, primary or accessible location from where each of the photographers is geographically based.”

“This is the first tightly-knit, project-oriented photography collective composed of Filipino photographers of its kind in this digital age that we know of,” he added.  *** 

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