May 24, 2012
Excerpts from Kapihan sa Senado with Senator Franklin M. Drilon
On the Chief Justice Renato Corona's opening statement during the trial
Drilon: The respondent here had many difficulties from the past, but I believe that the case of the Chief Justice was made more difficult because of the imploding of the legal team. In the past few days, it was made very clear that justice Cuevas does not have full control of the legal defense. Why? Because last Tuesday, we were at the caucus (the senators) and Justice Cuevas came to explain that he had no hand in this, he did not know that this is going to happen, and from that statement you could imply that somebody else was directing the show and at that precise moment Atty. Jose Roy was on Television being interviewed. Justice Cuevas said (to me) "ayan, daldal ng daldal i-contempt n'yo! At ikulong nyo ng sampung araw hindi ako mag-o-object" . And then another incident in the same episode Atty. Roy was going to join the caucus, hinarang siya ni Justice Cuevas at sinabing: "papasok ka diyan, mumurahin ka" and I recall the episode when the Chief Justice walked out, I could conclude that Justice Cuevas did not know what was happening because he was trying to address the court not knowing that his client is already leaving the room.
Drilon: So, to be clear that he had no control of what was happening, it would appear to me that Atty. Roy is the principal lead counsel from what has transpired. The reason why I am making this statement is just, Justice Cuevas said in the media today the he had resigned several times and I can believe him given what we saw last Tuesday, indeed the defense team was disintegrating. Therefore, this had added to the difficulties of Chief Justice Corona in presenting his defense when your legal team is imploding because of the differences. I assume, quoting Justice Cuevas, there were apparent differences among them that made him submit to the Chief Justice his resignation, so that is one aspect that unfortunately affects the quality of the defense of the Chief Justice.
On the Chief Justice's alleged "walkout"
Drilon: Ako, I am convinced and this is my conclusion. Observing and recalling the events that transpired, when Justice Cuevas was asking for an opportunity to ask a list of questions while his client was already walking out. My information is that one of the lawyers was already downstairs in the basement waiting for the Chief Justice to go down. So I have no doubt that the walkout was premeditated or planned. I can conclude reasonably that Justice Cuevas was not part of the plan. Justice Cuevas is of the old school. I don't think he will stand for this kind of technique of walking out. He knows that this does not work in a legal environment. We have political moves which to him is not part of the legal process and therefore I am convinced that given his background as a pure legal practitioner not involved in politics, not involved in other gimmickry that he did not know that this was going to happen. I am sure that if he knew he would have stopped it. Unfortunately, he did not know so he didn't stop it. But I suspect some members of his team knew that this was going to happen.
On the impeachment court's liberality
Drilon: I think he had lost public support. You know, Senator Enrile and the impeachment court were very lenient with the Chief Justice given all the leeway. In the past 39 trial days, media can attest to the fact that the court did not allow a narrative testimony. If a witness would start telling his story, the objection that the witness has to answer on specific questions was always sustained. In the case of the chief justice, he was allowed by the senate president to have an opening statement which is even most unusual in an adversarial proceeding. Have you ever seen a court trial where you start with an opening statement? No. But in this particular case it was extraordinary. He was allowed given that leeway so that no one can say that we are not giving the chief justice an opportunity. However, when an opening statement becomes a three hour testimony in a narrative form; that is taking advantage of the liberality of the senate president and the impeachment court in allowing him to make an opening statement. There was a clear abuse of the liberality and that did not escape the public's notice and certainly he lost public support which he could have given the emotional appeal that he made but he lost it all when he walked out.
On Chief Justice Corona's opening statement
Drilon: Nakumbinse ako, for example na mayroong 82 accounts. Bakit? Because sabi niya apat na lang ang natira at ang 78 ay naisara. So there were 82 accounts only that in the course of time 78 were closed and only four remained. So the issue is number one, were the amounts appearing in these four accounts reported? Number two, in those 78 close accounts, were any of them reported in the SALN on the years that these accounts existed? Obviously not, so in that sense this testimony of the Chief Justice corroborated the 17 page AMLC report. The AMLC said, a report said there were eighty two accounts the Chief Justice said there were eighty two accounts but over the years seventy eight were closed. So this confirmed the AMLC report. Some of the damaging evidence was submitted by the defense. The testimony of Conchita Carpio Morales she was a witness for the defense. Chief Justice Corona appeared in his behalf as of course witness for the defense. Many of those damaging evidence and testimony came out the hearings of the testimony of these two witnesses.
On the Chief Justice taking the witness stand
Drilon: I'll just stick to the facts, these two witnesses certainly did not have the case. The court has decided that tomorrow the Chief Justice will be given an opportunity to take the witness stand. If he doesn't take the witness stand, the case will be submitted for resolution; we will ask both parties to submit their formal offer of evidence. It could be a verbal offer or it could be a written offer of evidence. The court will rule on this offer of evidence either immediately tomorrow Friday or on Monday. Then we proceed with the closing arguments. Under the rules each party will be allowed closing arguments two from each side with the House of Representatives opening and closing of arguments. We have agreed that each side will be given one hour to present their case so the House of Representatives will have one hour to present their opening arguments and the rebuttal arguments. The number of presenters will be two under the rules. The house will divide one hour between the main presentation. The main closing argument and the rebuttal arguments are a matter for the House to determine. The defense will have one hour so the order will be House of Representatives, defense and then House of Representatives that is the rule.
On Drilon as an LP senator being a factor when deciding on the Chief Justice's fate
Drilon: The rules says that political neutrality should be observed.
On the "walkout" of the Chief Justice
Drilon: Not Atty. Roy, another lawyer and that one is just an information - Tuesday after the walkout. Nag caucus kami doon. Yes if you recall there was recess and then because we wanted the senate president ordered Corona to return to the witness stand and then close all the doors so we all... It wasn't a formal caucus...but we all went there and we were all talking about what happened and what to do. And then justice Cuevas came in then tried to explain to the senate president and to the senators present that he had nothing to do with the walk out.
On how the Senate felt when the Chief Justice left the court
Drilon: No it's no secret, the senate president was terribly disappointed of the lack of respect of the Chief Justice on the impeachment court and on the senate. That is no secret he said it publicly he was very very disappointed.
On Atty. Roy being the script writer of the "walkout" of the Chief Justice
Drilon: Hindi ko sinasabi siya yung script writer, ang sinasabi ko na hindi alam ni justice Cuevas. On my personal knowledge because I saw it and I heard it. Sinabi ni justice Cuevas, "oh yan oh, pointing to Roy on the television screen, daldal ng daldal yan."
On Corona "Walkout"
Drilon: There was no reason (for Atty. Roy) to be cited in contempt. Nobody said that there was a maneuver. I did not say that, just to clarify. What I said was that Justice Cuevas asserted that he had nothing to do with it. Who did it? Nobody knows.
On Senators' Caucus
Drilon: Hindi pumasok si Atty. Roy, si Atty. Cuevas pumasok, napapaliwanag na hindi niya alam 'yung plano na mag walkout, na hindi niya alam ganyan mangyayari. That was why he was very apologetic because he knew it offended the Senate President and all the senator-judges. There was never anyone who sent word to us that gustong humarap si CJ Corona. The report to me by witnesses was that Roy was trying to come in and that Cuevas told him: "Pag pumasok ka d'yan, mumurahin ka lang." Hindi naman siya sinabon, but the disgust and the disappointment of the Senate President was delivered to Justice Cuevas.
On the possibility of mistrial
Drilon: There is no mistrial in our system. The mistrial is in a jury system in the United States. I do not know who is posting this idea of a mistrial; obviously, a mistrial has no place in our system. In a jury system, a mistrial, as to my knowledge, is when a jury gets tainted, meaning nakausap or had a pre-judgment and therefore, when a judgment is rendered, it is voided, or when a prosecution commits a transgression of the rules, if there was evidence that could have exculpated the accused and that this evidence was kept from the defense, then there could be a mistrial. But there is no such thing in our system, so there could be no mistrial. It is simply not applicable to our jurisdiction. Certainly, there can be no mistrial in the impeachment proceedings. Absolutely, no basis to claim a mistrial.
On the Senator-Judges' votes
Drilon: The senator-judges will vote according to the evidence on record. We will still wait (for Corona) to appear.
On Pending Petitions at the Supreme Court
Drilon: It will be moot and academic in our view. Even if it is not moot and academic, it is our position that the Supreme Court has no jurisdiction over the Impeachment Court, much less jurisdiction over the decision on the merits.
I have stated a position that I believe personally, strongly, that the Supreme Court has no jurisdiction over the Impeachment Court and the argument is stronger in so far as jurisdiction over the decision on the merits is concerned. There are some who argue that the Supreme Court may be able to justify jurisdiction over interlocutory orders, meaning, orders which would not have relation to the main merits of the case. But there is unanimity in the Impeachment Court that the Supreme Court has absolutely no jurisdiction over the impeachment court and that is the rule that we will follow.
On being singled out by the CJ
Drilon: I suspect he singled me out because I was the one who was able to draw out the SALN from that Clerk of Court. That started everything. That Clerk of Court did not want to release the SALN. It was upon my questioning that he surrendered the SALN to the court and that was where prosecution started to build its case because without the SALN, it would be impossible for the prosecution to build its case on Article II. I would say that was the reason why he singled me out, because of that episode. I would say pinersonal niya ako.
On the congressmen who are willing to sign their waiver
Drilon: Hindi ba mga kasama ito ni Gloria? We signed a waiver to our SALNs. The Ombudsman can make use of it whenever she wants. So what is the use of this waiver? It's all for show. Look at what CJ Corona did. First, he said, bubuksan ko lahat ito pag dating panahon. Dumating na ang panahon so he signed a waiver. But he said the waiver maging epektibo lang if Sen. Drilon and the other 188 congressmen will also sign a waiver. Hindi waiver 'yun, may condition. Second, he hid the waiver in his pocket, hindi niya binigay. Third, may waiver na kami nag-sign sa aming SALN. So, there is absolutely no basis for this. And we are not the one on trial. Ang issue dito ay mayroon ba tinatago kayamanan ang Chief Justice which was not declared on his SALN?
On a deposition on case
Drilon: What he did was more than a deposition. A deposition is when you get a testimony not in the presence of a judge. In this case, he had a three-hour direct testimony and he said everything there, including hearsay evidence. Pinayagan siya ipasok 'yung liham ng kanyang anak that is in any language, a hearsay. There is no basis for a deposition because you only depose where the witness cannot appear. Here, he appeared and that is why a cross-examination is being asked for.
On closing argument
Drilon: It's probably a summation of what the evidence is all about.
On FCDU law
Drilon: The law cannot be interpreted to have absurd results. That is a principle. You cannot interpret a law in an absurd manner. To interpret a law in that manner is absurd! Why? A corrupt official will commit corruption, the fruits of the corruption will be converted into foreign exchange and the foreign exchange will be deposited in a foreign currency deposit unit. Under that theory, you cannot inquire anymore into the proceeds of the corrupt act. That is the first principle, you cannot interpret the law that will result in an absurd situation. Second argument, the Supreme Court in one case said that you cannot use the FCDU (foreign Currency Deposit Unit) law as a haven for the corrupt and the criminals. To interpret it in the manner that the Chief Justice would want to justify his non-disclosure is to say that the FCDU law could be used as a haven to hide proceeds of criminal acts. The Supreme Court cannot sustain that ground.
Q: So sir, hindi po absolute yung confidentiality?
Drilon: Very correct. The Supreme Court said so not Senator Drilon.
Q: Nagkaroon ng misinterpretation or sinadya lang na i-misinterpret ni CJ Corona yung batas?
Drilon: That's a conclusion he can best answer. There is a Supreme Court decision. Later on, I can provide with the name and the citation.
Q: Ano gagawin niyo if dinala si CJ Corona na nakawheel chair with all the medical gadgets?
Drilon: The prosecution has said that they will no longer cross examine if there are no additional questions. I do not know what the other senators will do. If he does not explain, my conclusion is that the 82 accounts appearing in the AMLC yung sinasabi niyang "lanterns", lumiit ng lumiit dahil nasasara yung mga accounts ibig sabihin nabuksan. Sa dulo, sabi niya apat nalang. Ang issue is magkano ba ang laman nito? What is clear is that those accounts were testified to by the PSBank in as far as PSBank accounts are concerned.
Q: So you agree with the prosecution na hindi na nila kailangan i-cross examine si CJ Corona?
Drilon: Well, I don't know why they said that.
Q: Ikaw sir, meron kang dollar account?
Drilon: First, there is nothing illegal in maintaining a dollar account. Second, I report all my assets in my Statement of Assets and Liabilities. Third, my Statement of Assets and Liabilities contains a waiver. Fourth, my Statement of Assets and Liabilities is open to the public.
Q: Sabi po ni Justice Cuevas, hindi daw po sila magpapasa ng documentary evidence. Pano po kayo magdedecide dun based lang dun sa credibility ni CJ Corona?
Drilon: Hindi ba may documentary evidence siya? Yung lantern? That's part of his testimony. At ang ebidensya naman, hindi kailangan ng dokumento. Verbal testimony is acceptable as documentary evidence.
Q: Gusto niyo po ba makita yung mga bank accounts?
Drilon: A senator has requested that the bank managers be subpoenaed. The court has already ruled on that. The witness is either for the defense or the prosecution. There is no witness for the court. If neither the prosecution nor the defense would subpoena these bank records, there is no place for these bank officers to appear in the Impeachment trial. This is not a committee hearing where you invite resource persons. This is an impeachment trial.
Q: Once ma-convict si CJ Corona, that doesn't mean that he will be free from any criminal liability?
Drilon: That is correct. The judgement either for conviction or acquittal does not rule upon the criminal liability of any of the person being impeached.
On non-inclusion of the dollar account in the SALN
Drilon: Pag hindi mo nireport, what you violate is the law that requires you to report all your assets even dollar accounts. You report the equivalent peso amount in your SALN. That is precisely what is the issue in the impeachment proceedings. Failure to report an asset. A dollar account is an asset. If you have a dollar account, you either report in foreign or peso equivalent. But what is required is the reporting of the asset.
Q: Sir, nasettle na po ba yung issue kung yung non-declaration is an impeachable offense?
Drilon: The Supreme Court has ruled that an employee of the Supreme Court that did not report the ownership of a market stall constitute enough basis to dismiss the employee. Now, in the case of impeachable officials, the standard is higher than the standard imposed on a market vendor.
Q: Hindi pwedeng gawing technicality yun ng panig ng depensa?
Drilon: Hindi pwede yun because the Supreme Court itself has imposed that rule that an employee of the Supreme Court that did not declare the ownership of a market stall for dismissing that employee. And I believe the standard imposed on a Chief Justice is much higher than the standard imposed on a market stall owner.
On Fr. Bernas' stand re FCDU
Drilon: An advocate will always argue one way or the other but I am confident that common sense will tell you that you cannot use the FCDU Law in a manner that will lead you to absolve situations. As when a crooked government official who steals money from government would convert the proceeds of his crime to dollars and deposit it to an FCDU account. Question that I ask you is are you saying we cannot inquire into this? Are you saying that the law will protect these practices? The answer is obviously no and I am not making this conclusion but the Supreme Court, it seems, itself, is making this conclusion.
Q: Sir, di ba si Fr. Bernas ay one of the framers of the Constitution?
Drilon: He is a framer of the Constitution, but the Supreme Court interprets the Constitution and the laws.
On laws that should be amended or legislated
Drilon: One very clear deficiency is the requirement of what should be placed in your SALN in reference to the value of the property you acquired. Should it be acquisition, fair market value or assessed? In my mind, we should amend the law so that it is clear that what you'll put is the acquisition cost because the others are variable. The assessment and fair market values are variable. It varies from year to year. The acquisition cost will really attest to whether you have sufficient income or money to purchase the property and it does not change. For example, there was a great debate because Corona stated P6 million as the assessed value of that condominium in Fort Bonifacio. The acquisition cost is P14 million. To justify the acquisition of that asset vis-à-vis his resources, he said P6 million as assessed value. So, indeed there is a need to remove the inclusion of fair market value and assessed value as basis for your reporting of properties.
On pending bills like the Anti-Money Laundering Law
Drilon: The Anti-Money Laundering Law refers to two areas. The first bill would correct the erroneous decision in the case of people vs. Eugenio by Justice Dante Tinga when the Court ruled that the Anti-Money Laundering Council, when it applies for authority to inquire into a bank deposit, must notify the depositor. If you notify the depositor, the next minute, he will withdraw all those accounts. To me, that is totally wrong. The authority to inquire into a bank account is nothing different from a search warrant. When you apply for a search warrant, you don't notify the owner of the place where you're going to search. This is what we seek to correct in this amendment. The second amendment is the Anti-Terrorist Financing. The law would consider as a ground to inquire or to freeze, upon authority of the Court, accounts which are used for terrorist financing as a predicate crime. These are the two areas that are being debated upon and we hope that the Senate can act on these parts before we adjourn because this has serious implications on our Overseas Filipino workers' remittances. I was the Senate President when we enacted the original law in 2001, and because of the resistance then, our overseas workers were exposed to the effects of the sanctions. What are the sanctions? This is what they call enhanced examination of the remittances. Remember that the cardinal rule in the banking system is KYC (Know your customer). So, they can use this principle in order to justify an enhanced extensive investigation for every remittance done by Overseas Filipino workers; and if we are placed in the black list and with the enhanced investigation, that will discourage the workers to go to the banks and regular banking system and resort to the informal sector with all the dangers of the remitted amount being lost and the adverse effects on the economy of these dollars not being included in our gross international reserves.
On Sen. Joker Arroyo saying that we have been in danger of being blacklisted before
Drilon: We responded in 2001 by enacting the Anti-Money Laundering Act that is why we were not sanctioned. Now, because of these deficiencies in the law, there is again a warning. I don't want to take that risk that the warning becomes a reality and our overseas workers are prejudiced. Last year our total remittances were over $21 billion. I don't want to risk that $21 billion to go into the informal sector and expose our workers to the danger of losing their hard-earned dollars and the economy not benefitting from these additional gross international reserves.
On the two bills being passed in two weeks
Drilon: Kaya yan kasi it's in the amendment stage and it can be passed. In a caucus last Monday, the Senate leadership and all the senators, agreed to pass these two measures. So, there is a consensus among the senators in the caucus of the need to pass these two measures. So, I'm confident of its passage.
On Jessica Sanchez
Drilon: Sayang. Sana po nanalo. Mahal siya ng buong bansa. Ganoon pa man, the future will be good to her given her talent. How I wish she won. I am disappointed but we respect the results.
Thursday, June 20
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