Explanation of vote in the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Corona

The Constitution provides that in all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall be presumed innocent, until the contrary is proved.  The burden of proof is on the prosecution.  How much proof is necessary?  In other words, what is the standard of proof?  I have adopted the very high standard of “overwhelming preponderance of evidence.”  My standard is very high, because removal by conviction on impeachment is a stunning penalty, the ruin of a life.

The defendant admitted that he did not declare his dollar accounts and certain commingled peso accounts in his SALN.  Did this omission amount to an impeachable offense?  No.

Under the rule of ejusdem generis, when a general word occurs after a number of specific words, the meaning of the general word should be limited to the kind or class of thing within which the specific words fall.  The Constitution provides that the impeachable offenses are: “culpable violation of the Constitution, treason, bribery, graft and corruption, other high crimes, or betrayal of public trust.”  An omission in good faith in the SALN carries a light penalty, and is even allowed to be corrected.  Thus, it is not impeachable.

The Constitution simply provides that a public officer shall submit a declaration under oath of his assets, liabilities, and net worth.  That is all.  There are no details.  The Constitution is a brief declaration of fundamental principles.  Many constitutional provisions are only commands to the Congress to enact laws to carry out the purpose of the charter.

As a general rule, constitutional provisions are not self-executory.  The usual exceptions are the Bill of Rights, and constitutional prohibitions.  All other constitutional provisions, such as the SALN provision, need implementing laws to provide the details.  Hence, Congress, to implement this constitutional provision, has passed a number of laws, including the Foreign Currency Act, which confers absolute confidentiality on dollar deposits.

There is no conflict between the Constitution and the Foreign Currency Act.  The perceived conflict is so simplistic that it is seriously laughable.  If there is any conflict, it is between the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards, which provides for a waiver of confidentiality; and the Foreign Currency Act, which provides for absolute confidentiality.

It is for Congress to balance on the one hand, the need for public accountability from public officers; with, on the other hand, the desperate need for foreign investment, which entails confidentiality, on pain of driving away investors from our country.  The argument that a dollar deposit protected from inquiry would nullify the principle of transparency is for Congress to resolve.  We could retain the absolute confidentiality clause, with the amendment that Filipino public officers are not protected.

The prosecution mistakes admission for confession.  In a confession, the defendant admits guilt. In an admission, the defendant merely states facts, which might tend to prove his guilt.  In the instant case, the defendant did not make a confession, but merely an admission, with a legal defense.

As a former RTC judge, I find it reprehensible that the AMLA document was introduced in evidence, without authentication, as required by the Rules of Evidence.  I am deeply disappointed that on at least three occasions, the prosecution claimed that its documents came from an anonymous source.  Are you for real?  Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus.  False in one thing, false in all things.

The defendant used his own name in all his questioned transactions.  He could have done otherwise, if his purpose was invisibility. Why would a suspected criminal leave his calling cards at the scene of the crime?

Assuming for the sake of argument that there is a preponderance of evidence for the prosecution, the preponderance is not overwhelming.


29 thoughts on “Explanation of vote in the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Corona”

  1. Unfortunately, people were not able to see that. Majority of the people I know felt that justice was served. It makes me really sad how people are easily manipulated by the media, and how most public officials are much into grandstanding and basing judgement on public opinion. It’s really sad. You don’t need to be a college graduate or be a lawyer to see that.

    The country is privileged to have elected someone like you, and I wish you the best in the ICC. You have done so much for this country, and there are people who are grateful for that.

  2. I believe in Senator Miriam Santiago and all she represents – she is the only shining light in the otherwise dismall body we call senate – its like when God gave out brains – she was the only one present together with Senators Arroyo and Marcos – the rest were absent or not around – or perhaps they belong to the paddy lockers at san lazaro wherein the horses are given eye shields so the Boss tells them where to look without their brains – sad – such a waste of space in the senate and air time on tv to listen to the nonsensical jabbers of men and women in red robes – I am truly sad for our country- I hope that when the time comes when it will be the rule of law to impeach whoever and whenever the Boss wants – that they may never be on the other end of the wrath of the game playing man they call Boss –

    I have been a loyal follower of Senator Miriam and even voted for her when she ran for President –

    Its just too sad that the media blitz was too over whelming that the ordinary filipino does not understand the issue

    Nonetheless again salamat Madam Miriam for lending your brilliance in an otherwise dark dismall day in Senate –

    Dr. Carrie Legaspi Vicerra

  3. I am neither pro or anti-Corona but once again you have proven yourself to be a woman blessed with wisdom. You are a great thinker and a great decision-maker! Galing mo talaga, idol. Nawa ganyan mag-isip ang karamihan, yung sound judgment eh dapat based on facts not on emotions nor on any tinge of selfish motives…Sana dumami pa ang katulad mo. Mabuhay ka. You have the admiration of millions of OFWs like me…

    Keep on… PHL needs someone like you.
    Hope to see you in person!

  4. Sometimes I think the Philippines does not deserve you madam Miriam…but for me, you remain the best senator, untainted by politics and the personal agendas that go with that dirty world, unafraid of public opinion. I hope you go to the ICC where I am sure the world would appreciate your brilliance as a lawmaker. Good luck and Godbless.

  5. Thank you so much Sen. Miriam for the vote of acquittal for our beloved CJ Corona! I’ve learned so many things about law during these past few weeks of the trial. I am proud to be an Ilongga (although I also feel ashamed because of Drillon and Tupas)! Mabuhay ka and Congratulations at Good Luck to you Madame Senator.

  6. madam, nasan po yung adlibs nyo? sana po nailagay din dito 😀

    so far one of the best speeches i’ve heard.

  7. Thank you Sen. Santiago for educating us and making us understand. I am a huge admirer. I wish you good health. Take care :)

  8. I only wanted to convey that you are the only competent and reliable in promulgating the decision on CJ Corona’s case,and so with Sen. Arroyo. Philippines will never prosper to its quest of eradicating graft and corruption. Pnoy is only going after his political enemies in the guise of fighting graft in our country. If we really want change, the system has to be changed. Not only go after the ones we don’t like. It’s very superficial and momentary. I never believed with Pnoy’s ideas. His advocacy, I admire, in fighting the perennial problem of our country. But his solution in going after GMA or Corona will never deter anyone to go into the same thing of corruption over and over again. He must study deeper into the problem. He knows Filipinos are fond of justification, of palusot and all that. He must create a better system that is applicable to our country. Stop “POLITICAL ASSASSINATION”, as Senator Joker Arroyo has termed it. I seriously admire the big 3 in the senate because they are the ones who have the best discernment over the problem.

  9. I’ve watched the impeachment trial from the very start until the terminal point of the proceedings. My mind ignites when you are called and stood up in the podium to make some clarifications of the witnesses from their opinions which are just planted on the table. I love to see you speaking in front of the senator-judges and the prosecution because of your charisma, your provocative and irrevocable statements that enlighten my understanding about the bottom line of the impeachment case against the Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona.Because of your comprehensible words, I learned many things about laws, about the general word that occurs after a number of specific words and its limitation. I agreed to that very simple and great but brief explanation.About the difference between admission and confession has also explained briefly.
    During the testimony of CJ Corona which took for almost 3 hours with his mixed emotions has erased my doubt that he really tells the truth. And,when you stood up again in the podium, I felt so happy especially when you explain one by one about what an impeachment is, and that the rule of the proceedings together with the rule of substantial evidence must be surely met by both counsels. But, sad to say that the prosecution failed to do it. With that, they even invented for evidence in order to convince the senate impeachment court presided by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile. But, I was so dismayed when the 20 Senator- judges voted CJ Corona for conviction. I believed that these senator-judges were just guided by their political interest since they are all re-electionists for the 2013 Elections.
    I believed that you and the Sen. Marcos and Sen. Joker Arroyo who voted for CJ’s acquittal understand that the rule of law must prevail.
    Your performance gives inspiration in the Philippines and even me as your admirer. I am your utmost admirer ever since Madam. Your brilliance that you have shown inspires me to study law. You are the best, excellent, brilliant senator ever, especially when I started to exercise my right to vote, you are on the top in my list of running senators. With your vote for acquittal Madam for CJ Corona that justice shall be served under the rule of law.
    Congratulations for a job well-done. Thank you for teaching us to stand with our right under the law.
    May God bless you!And, wishes you good health.

    Mr. Carlos D. Sajulga
    BIT International College- Jagna

  10. Madam Senator I wish that there were more of you so that the penalty could have been more fair… I found it unfair to make an example of CJ Corona without the overwhelming preponderance of evidence… I admire your compassion and sadly such kindness was not evident in some senator judges who were hell-bent to smite CJ Corona down…

  11. Naniniwala pa rin po ako na palabas lang ang mga naganap. Ni hindi nga po talaga dapat nagkaroon ng trial. Pakana lang siguro nila iyon..

  12. Her “not guilty” verdict was a very unpopular decision for it may affect her public appeal to the common tao who are the majority voters. But her courage and conviction in that crucial decision definitely translated the gentle lady judge to an impartial and factual reasoning in her verdict regardless of public opinion and media expedition. The apex of the impeachment trial was when Sen Mariam constitionally and logially presented her manifestation to acquit the chief Justice did not come from nowhere but validated convincingly the burden of proof presented by the prosection found NOT an impeachable crime. Her presented manifestation in her vote proved her brilliance and exceptional knowledge in interpreting laws either local or foreigne. In so doing, she is indeed a true VANGUARD of the Philippine Constitution which for many did not foresee. God bless you always Madam! You have my sympathy and respect.

  13. If it werent for your wisdom,brilliance and wit, the Impeachment trial would have been very boring and a total waste of time and resources. I love reading the above: logical, fair,based on laws and in fact you have said for us what we’ve wanted to tell the members of the” grand conspiracy
    to put an innocent man down.”..So lame their excuse for convicting, so dumb their reason.
    Thank you, madam. More power and God bless you with good health and long life.

  14. This speech explaining your acquittal vote for Philippine Chief Justice Renato Corona’s impeachment trial was simply impressive!!

    It was one of, if not, the most sensible deliberation among all the Senators.

    Forgive me, ma’am, for mentioning this. Your speech delivery would have been much better if you were calmer, though. Letting your emotions get the better of you made you appear not in control. I’m just saying this in concern when you take your position as one of the ICC judges. Your foreign colleagues might not appreciate you raising your voice.

    Nonetheless, I still highly admire you for being a blunt yet honest lady. You always stand your ground and FIGHT FOR WHAT YOU BELIEVE IS RIGHT and JUST! You weren’t afraid to state the obvious faults regarding many corrupt and hypocritical Philippine politicians.

    You should have been, more importantly, SHOULD BE THE CURRENT PHILIPPINE PRESIDENT, in my humble opinion. The country will surely be cleaned up of? law loopholes and dishonest officials!

    Watching you criticize the incompetent prosecution panel, and making the other? charlatan politicians feel uncomfortably ashamed was priceless!!

    Bravo, Senator Defensor-Santiago!!

    I really really wish there were more people like you among the Filipino leaders.

    Until Filipino voters realize that DECENT, FAIR & COURAGEOUS PEOPLE like you are the ones who ought to be elected in office (instead of the mostly ignorant, inexperienced yet popular, usually rich “entities”), the Philippines and its economy? will sadly never improve.

    One of your followers in Tokyo,
    C. Umerez

  15. I know I made the right decision of understanding critical points regarding Corona’s impeachment proceedings instead of having to plunge in the “impeachment teleserye”. I just thought the entire process is pointless. They keep on trying to prove that he has SALN discrepancies instead of weighing circumstances and evidences in order to prudently find out whether he deserves to be evicted from previously assumed allegations. The impeachment became a telenovela, created an emotional appeal, and turned out to be DRAMATIC as opposed to what it should be. I am deeply disappointed that the 44-day trial somewhat failed to serve its purpose.

    Great insight Senator. I was enlightened in this topic because at this point, all I am (still) concerned about is Corona’s hypoglycemic event and increased troponin levels.


  16. I believe if Philippine will have eyes and ear to listen A WORD OF WISDOM they will know that they have a gift FROM GOD which is sen. Mariam Santiago for her great wisdom of decision making and outstanding lawyer who love what she is doing as a law maker.

  17. very well said madam senator.
    Goodluck to you as one of the ICC judge.
    We will admire you forever..

  18. Maam, will the decision of the senate sitting as an impeachment court make passing a bill that requires public employees and officials waive their rights to foreign currency confidentiality to the ombudsman or the impeachment court in a trial?

  19. Sen. Santiago, I admire your brilliance as a lawyer. Too bad, not all politicians are not the same as you are. No wonder we have a government run by some brainless heads.
    What you said on the day of verdict for CJ Corona “huwag kayong magmalinis” was so true. I cannot stomach these people who were convicting CJ, as if all of them are so clean of any misdeed. Only time will tell how CJ Corona will be vindicated. I wish you all the luck as an ICC Judge.

  20. Madam, i am deeply honored and proud that you are a Filipina…I know your biography by heart..though i do not know all the books you wrote…but I admire your wisdom, and, in internet forums I relentlessly come to your defense (no pun intended) and your position because I fully understand you and your position. Only the truly thinking people will understand you and I admire you…May you be blessed with many many more years because we need people like you who come very rare in Philippine politics.

  21. Very well said Madam Senator. People should always vote you and someone like you to make this country a better place to live…MABUHAY KA!

  22. Very well said Madam Senator. People should always vote you and someone like you to make our country a better place to live..MABUHAY KA!

  23. Madam, May i ask why Lito Lapid is not investigated yet? While he was crying GUILTY for CJ Corona, his wife was and still is in the US with a cancelled passport and arrested for a dollar smuggling attempt. I am floored that Lapid has some nerve to cry guilty when his wife was caught redhanded…smuggling their dollars out of the country so that their accounts here are clean? Now who is more guilty?

  24. @jonas, don’t tell me that marissa lapid was acting on her own. That is what most politicians do, let the spouse do the dirty work so that they come clean! Hay naku Jonas, wake up and smell the coffee!

  25. Madam Senator, would you enlighten me on this one question. Is the verdict in this case translates to a ruling that all public officials will need to declare all their dollar accounts, without the need for further judicial pronouncement on the FCDU law? Is there an amendment cooking in the congress regarding this matter?

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