One topic for the sacked CJ’s school lecture series
Exclusive by Raïssa Robles
I choose to celebrate today, our Independence Day, by exercising one of the most basic freedoms that we Filipinos fought so hard for with our blood, sweat and fears. Yes – fears.
There have been moments in my life as a journalist that the very act of writing has been a struggle in overcoming personal fears, such as fear of arrest, harassment or violence.
IMPORTANT UPDATE as of 6:21 p.m. of June 12: Pls see BELOW
The freedom to criticize the country’s movers and shakers is one expressly guaranteed by the Constitution.
And so today, I choose to write about another unfinished business of the Filipino people – that of ensuring that the former highest magistrate of the country will face the bar of justice to answer allegations of, among others, ill-gotten wealth.
Besides, former Chief Justice Renato Corona is working out ways for the next president to pardon him to restore all his political rights .
Earlier I had written that perhaps Corona is expecting to be given a presidential pardon by the next president. I stand corrected. A commenter named @Rolly has pointed out to me that Section 19 of Article VII of the Constitution specifically states that the president is barred from granting reprieves, commutations and pardons in cases of impeachment.
This means, therefore, that Corona stands impeached forever and will go down in history as the very first impeached official. Unless, the present Constitution is replaced or amended and he benefits from this. Still, Corona is bent on changing the way history will view him. And of dodging any prospective criminal cases.
Soon after his conviction in the impeachment trial, Corona quickly set himself up as THE champion of transparency and accountability. He announced his intention to mount a lecture series in various schools.
If he really does intend to face students, here is one thing those students can keep in mind and ask him about.
The least that we expect a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to do is to tell the truth. It is because HIS WORD IS LAW. What he says goes.
And so, when Renato Corona was on the dock being made to explain by Senator-Judge Franklin Drilon why he had so much money in the bank and this was grossly disproportional to the sum of his salaries and allowances as a government official, Corona chose to give Drilon a sarcastic answer.
Here is their exchange in the official transcription of the impeachment court. The sentences in brackets are my own translation:
THE CHIEF JUSTICE. Iyong pesos naman po, gaya po nung ipinaliwanag ko, hindi ko pa rin nireport ‘yun kasi co-mingled funds ‘yon ng hindi—sa pangangasiwa ko lang po iyon hindi naman po sa amin ‘yon.
[The pesos, as I explained earlier, I did not also report because those were co-mingled funds under my care and those were not ours.]
SEN. DRILON. Okay. Iyon po ay sa pangangasiwa mo. Ngunit hindi ba dapat iyong pera na nasa pangangasiwa mo ay dapat ireport mo rin at iyong corresponding liability ay ireport mo. Halimbawa, 34.7 million ang inyong hawak for BGEI, iyan po ay liability, ngunit iyan din po ay assets, hindi po ba ‘yun?
[OK, those were under your care. But is it not the case that the money under your care should have been reported by you (as an asset) and the same should have been reported by you as a corresponding liability? For example, the 34.7 million you held for BGEI, that is a liability but that is also an asset, isn't it?]
THE CHIEF JUSTICE. Pardon me, Senator, pero hindi po ako accountant. [Pardon me, Senator, but I am not an accountant.]
SEN. DRILON. Okay, sige. [Alright, sure.]
THE CHIEF JUSTICE. Hindi po ako nakakaintindi nung mga asset-liability debit-credit na ‘yan. Ang naintindihan ko lang po, iyong ordinaryong pagkakaintindi ng abogado diyan, na hindi naman akin, hindi ko naman inutang, kaya hindi ko naman po kelangang ireport.
[I do not understand all that (talk of) asset-liability, debit-credit. I only understand what a lawyer ordinarily understands, that because that (money) is not mine, I did not borrow that, that's why I need not report it.]
If you listen to the exchange between Drilon and Corona, Corona’s voice was dripping with sarcasm. That was understandable. Corona had long perceived Drilon to be against him. Through his lawyers, Corona had tried to get Drilon sacked as one of the judges.
However, what is not understandable is why Corona claimed he did not understand what the words “asset-liability” and debit-credit” meant.
Because if there is one person who would have a keen understanding what these words mean, it is Corona.
Remember how English teachers test their students’ understanding of words by making them use these in a sentence? Let’s do the same with Corona. Let’s see if he had ever used these words in a sentence.
Offhand, I would say I am very sure Corona knows the terms “debit-credit” because he has used the word “debit” very well in a sentence. And the word “credit’ is the exact opposite of “debit”. He has also used the word “assets”.
Almost nine years ago on July 15, 2003, Corona penned a landmark decision [G.R. No. 152154] entitled Republic of the Philippines, petitioner, vs. Honorable Sandiganbayan (Special First Division), Ferdinand E. Marcos (Represented by his Estate/Heirs: Imelda R. Marcos, Maria Imelda [Imee] Marcos-Manotoc, Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. And Irene Marcos-Araneta)and Imelda Romualdez Marcos, respondents.
The decision forfeited the Marcoses’ ill-gotten loot stashed in Swiss banks in favor of the Philippine government. It’s a remarkable piece of writing that explained very complicated financial transactions in laymen’s terms. From my experience writing financial stories, one can only write such pieces in plain English after one has fully grasped the intricacies of the entire transaction.
I reviewed this landmark decision after Corona had sarcastically told Drilon he was not an accountant and therefore “hindi po ako nakakaintindi nung mga asset-liability debit-credit na ‘yan.”
I was stunned to read this paragraph from the Marcos forfeiture case that Corona had penned. In this paragraph, Corona was discussing Rayby Foundation, one of the secret Marcos foundations for stashing the loot. Corona wrote:
Rayby Foundation was established on June 22, 1973 in Vaduz with Fessler, Scheller and Ritter as members of the board of directors. Imelda issued a written mandate to Dr. Theo Bertheau to establish the foundation with a note that the foundation’s capitalization as well as the cost of establishing it be debited against the account of Trinidad Foundation. Imelda was named the first and only beneficiary of Rayby foundation. According to written information from SKA dated November 28, 1988, Imelda apparently had the intention in 1973 to transfer part of the assets of Trinidad Foundation to another foundation, thus the establishment of Rayby Foundation. However, transfer of assets never took place. On March 10, 1981, Imelda issued a written order to transfer all the assets of Rayby Foundation to Trinidad Foundation and to subsequently liquidate Rayby. On the same date, she issued a written order to the board of Trinidad to dissolve the foundation and transfer all its assets to Bank Hofmann in favor of Fides Trust Co. Under the account “Reference Dido,” Rayby was dissolved on April 6, 1981 and Trinidad was liquidated on August 3, 1981.
Did you read that?
Corona used the word “debited” correctly.
Read Corona’s sentence again:
Imelda issued a written mandate to Dr. Theo Bertheau to establish the foundation with a note that the foundation’s capitalization as well as the cost of establishing it be debited against the account of Trinidad Foundation.
He also used the word “assets” correctly four times.
So, let’s see now. Corona recently said he had no understanding of such accounting concepts. If true, who wrote this landmark decision on the Marcoses’ forfeiture case which the Supreme Court said he had penned?
If not – well, I’ll leave it to students to ask their guest lecturer Corona this question.
Please share this piece with your friends, your sons and daughters who might find themselves the audience of Corona’s lecture series.
One of the members of our Cyber Plaza Miranda – the growing community of readers and commenters who congregate on this site – has just made this very important observation.
We fondly call him “Judge Baycas” and he wrote the following:
TEACHER: “Use “debit” and “credit” in a sentence.”
RENATO C. CORONA:
Respondent Sarmiento denied having received the proceeds of the loan and in fact presented evidence showing that on the day petitioner claimed to have credited the subject amount, it was again debited or withdrawn by petitioner, admittedly upon the instruction of the officials from petitioner’s head office.
TEACHER: “Very good, Renato, very good!”
Baycas’ source is Corona’s decision on G.R. No. 133710, January 13, 2004
Perhaps other readers can find other decisions of Corona which shows the true extent of his knowledge about accounting concepts. Pls. post them here. Thanks.