After Tuesday

by Juan L. Mercado

Did chief justice Renato Corona “hoist himself on his own petard” by having the unflappable Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales sub-poenaed?

Hamlet spoke of the “petard” — a 2 to 3 kilogram  bomb — in Shakespeare’s 1599 play. Being “hoisted on one’s own petard” meant “blowing  oneself up”. Today’s version is “shooting your own foot”

Tuesday, Corona ends defense by press release or text. He’ll testify at the impeachment trial to shred “a lantern of  lies” about P677 million in unexplained wealth.

”It ain’t over until the fat lady rises to sing,” the old song goes.  People will sit on their hands, until Corona winds up at the Senate. No more petards of technical quibbling please. Citizens want uncluttered answers to the Anti-Money Laundering Committee report and Carpio-Morales testimony.

Is there a “discrepancy of P36.7 million between what Capo earned and his Statement of Assets and Liabilities?  Did he shuttle P242 million from April 2003 to February 2012?  Where did the greenbucks tumble from? Then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo?, as Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares claims.

Senator-judges had no jurisdiction over their man, the defense always insisted. Corona appearance should “petard” hints they’ll trot to the Supreme Court, if clobbered in the Senate.

“It was Corona’s “call” to have the Ombudsman testify”, Defense lawyer Jose Roy III told Inquirer. The defense was startled by  “very huge”“ amounts squirreled into those passbooks.

So was the country. Central Bank reports 8 out of 10 households does not have a bank account. Did his lawyers work in  half-light from a “lantern of lies”?

“When Morales mentioned 82 dollar accounts, justice Serafin Cuevas was taken aback,” Cebu Daily News columnist Malou Guanzon Apalisok noted. “(It was) as if he was hearing things for the first time.” Journalists Domini Torrevillas and Marites Vitug make the same point counsels out of the loop.

When curtains rise Tuesday,  those 82 dollar accounts may have been whittled down,  maybe to  three, says a trial balloon lofted by “spokesman Ramon Esguerra. We understand. Hush-hush bank accounts have a sleazy history.

Replay March 2011 Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearings.  Commission on Audit’s Heidi Mendoza documented plunder of  Armed Forces funds for Balikatan, Filipino UN peacekeepers, etc.

Then AFP comptroller  Lt. Gen. Jacinto Ligot stonewalled questions about 42 bank accounts where  P740 million were  stashed between 2001 and 2005.  He invoked the right against self incrimination and secrecy of bank deposits

The US Senate money laundering investigation found Chile’s Gen. Augusto PIniochet and cronies, secretly moved, $27  million through 125 bank accounts at Riggs Bank and other financial agencies. Pinochet, family and cronies used alias names, offshore accounts, etc. and were indicted.

Africans callit la valise or “the suitcase” system, Duke University’s 2011 debate on secret bank accounts found. Cash were passed on to wring special treatment.  Presidents of five African countries were involved: Senegal, Burkina Faso,   Ivory Coast, the Congo and Gabon.

Secret bank accounts helped trigger People Power I and II. Papers found in Malacañang showed Marcos opened his first bank account abroad on July 07, 1967. He deposited $215,000 in Chase Manhattan Bank New York.

Marcos opened his first Swiss account a year later.  He picked the pseudo “William Saunders”. Imelda signed as “Jane Ryan”  They put $950,000 into four bank accounts. Multiple foundations thereafter mushroomed in Lichtenstein: Xandy,  Trinidad, Azio, Rosalys , Charis, Rayby — and so on.  On New Year 1970, he announced, “giving up all his worldly wealth’ — which came from Gen. Yamashita’s  “treasure.  Now, Ferdinand Jr. is a senator judge.  Guess how Junior will vote.

In an February 2002 ABS/CBN interview, Joseph Estrada admitted he was “Jose Velarde” — until a mystery figure on an Equitable Bank trust agreement.  Erap authorized  the bank to  invest  P500 million drawn from  a  Jose Velarde account that held P3.billion.Equitable’ s Clarissa  Ocampo refused to validate “Velarde’s”  signature. She rejected pressure to sign a document certifying that owner  of  the boodle was Jaime Dichavez — who scrammed. 

People Power II erupted after the “Craven 11” senators sealed  “the second envelop”. Today’s senator judges know this historical overhang. Erap became the first president to be convicted — and pardoned..

Corona must demolish the AMLC and COA data by Tuesday. It’s a daunting task.T he latest Social Weather Station Survey  reports 63% of Filipinos believe Corona hid wealth. Only 12% disagreed

There’s the “petard” factor. “The Ombudsman did not come here voluntarily to testify”, Enrile observed. The defense had her subpoenaed.  “Who ever produces a witness bound by (the witness’) testimony whether favorable or adverse.”

In his 1947 play “A Streetcar Named Desire”, Tennessee Williams wrote of Blanche Dubois who tried to create a lantern of light, Sun Star public standards  Pachico Seares recalled. Blanche covers a bare light bulb with a paper lantern.

It is her desire “for “illusion over reality”: She’d travel instead of check into a mental hospital. She’s on vacation, not a teacher fired for seducing a student.”

Corona’s defense could “ be a lantern to which he clung to the fantasy of being sinless,” Seares writes. “Remove that cover and bring on the harsh honest light.”  After Tuesday, we may know.


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