“Everyone knows that the trial is a power game that has nothing to do with an anti-corruption crusade,” one source said. “If Corona is taken out and (senior Associate Justice Antonio) Carpio becomes chief justice, and with the rest of the justices terrorized, may laban si Mar maging vice president soon,” he said.
Startling as the claim may seem, the facts supporting it are unassailable.
Alleging massive cheating by Binay, vice presidential candidate Mar Roxas filed an electoral protest in July 2010 with the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET). Roxas alleges that Binay’s lead over him of 730,000 votes would have been wiped out and he would have won by a landslide if the optical-scan counting machines had not voided 3 million of his votes. The PET has already secured the ballots in the areas where Roxas claims he was cheated, and its pre-hearing investigations are underway.
The PET – many have forgotten – is the Supreme Court chaired by Chief Justice Corona.
If Aquino gets to control the high court, which he will if Corona is taken out, and with the rest of the justices frightened either by the prospect of their own impeachment or media demonization, he controls the PET, which would fast-track Roxas’ protest, declare him the winner, and proclaim him the Republic’s vice president.
To prepare public opinion for this, the Ombudsman, assisted by a new member of the Commission on Audit, would hurl a flurry of graft cases against Binay to demonize him. This is the real reason, they said, why Aquino’s forces removed Ombudsman Mereditas Gutierrez and replaced her with his favorite justice, Conchita Carpio-Morales. Morales is a cousin of Justice Carpio, and the law firm he founded, now the Villaraza Cruz Marcelo & Angangco, is Roxas’ counsel for his electoral protest.
Told that no presidential or vice presidential protest has ever been won, my source replied: “But never has an administration dared to take out a Chief Justice, and even more justices if they don’t toe its line.”
The very recent case of Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo bolsters fears that the regime can browbeat justices to submission. Despite Corona’s ongoing trial, the House of Representatives’ justice committee still rushed Del Castillo’s impeachment February 7. Two days later, the embattled Del Castillo voted with Carpio and with Aquino’s three appointees – Ma. Lourdes Sereno, Bienvenido Reyes and Estela Perlas-Bernabe – for the Senate to scrutinize Corona’s dollar accounts.
Watch the impeachment trial and it is the four Liberal Party senators who unabashedly want to prove Corona guilty, even assisting bungling prosecutors.
Check out the people in the campaign to take out Corona, and it is a Liberal Party production: from party chairman Aquino to vice chairman Franklin Drilon who has been accused of practically being a prosecutor in the trial, to executive vice president Feliciano Belmonte, speaker of the House of Representatives that filed the complaint, to Niel Tupas Jr. head of the prosecution panel, down to the prosecutors’ belligerent spokespersons.
This is not because of the party’s servility to Aquino, but because its future depends entirely on party president Roxas becoming vice president soon, which will be his jumping board for the 2016 presidency. But already, Roxas has been marginalized, with Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa and his gang having blocked his bid to be a high-profile presidential chief of staff, and maneuvering him instead into the labyrinthine and corruption-ridden Department of Transportation and Communications. When transport prices soar, and they will, Roxas will be the most unpopular Cabinet member.
The Liberal Party’s golden age was, ironically, when Diosdado Macapagal, the father of Gloria Arroyo whom it has been crucifying, won the presidency in 1961. After Macapagal, it has been downhill for five decades to near-extinction, losing consistently in presidential and vice presidential elections, and winning very few seats in Congress.
It has not been able to produce political leaders with gravitas who could be presidential timber. Even the new generation of Liberals are hardly poster boys for a holier-than-thou party: P50-million-mansion-owner Tupas Jr., the obnoxious prosecution spokesman Miro Quimbo, tainted by the alleged Globe Asiatique property scam; former deputy customs chief Reynaldo Umali, caught lying with his fictitious “small-lady-informant” yarn.
Aquino is the first Liberal to win the presidency since Macapagal, but this was due neither to his personality nor to the Liberal’s political prowess, but because of mass hysteria that Cory Aquino’s spirit lives in his son’s body. A Roxas win would have ensured a new, post-Aquino golden age for the Liberal Party. But he lost, and the Liberals are now trying to move mountains to reverse his defeat, with Corona’s impeachment as the most crucial phase of that campaign.
As in all major historical events, Corona’s trial has its economic element (to get P10 billion for Hacienda Luisita) and its political dimension (to get Roxas to be vice president). There is also a personal facet to it.
Corona’s term – if he is not taken out – ends October 2018. For senior Associate Justice Carpio, who was appointed by Arroyo five months before Corona, the scenario is sheer psychological torture. He will spend seven maddening years seeing his rival preside over the Court, and when he becomes chief justice, it will be for only one year, as he retires October 2019.