MANILA — Majority of Filipinos, or 63 percent, believe impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona has hidden wealth “based on the undeclared money and assets in his Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net worth (SALN),” a new survey by Social Weather Stations showed.
The SWS survey conducted March 10 to 13 also revealed almost half or 46 percent of Filipinos think people power should be used to force Corona to step down if the Senate, seating as impeachment court, does not convict him. Twenty-eight percent disagreed, while 25 percent were undecided as shown in the survey, whose results were published Monday by SWS’ media partner BusinessWorld.
Corona’s defense panel is still presenting its evidence at this stage of the trial, which is scheduled to resume on May 7.
The survey showed 63 percent of the respondents agreed with the prosecution that Corona “has hidden wealth.” The prosecution has tried to show during the impeachment trial that the chief justice did not declare all his assets in his SALN. Twelve percent disagreed, while 24 percent remained undecided.
It also found 58 percent agreeing that Corona “intended to help” former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her husband Jose Miguel Arroyo to “flee the country, to elude the charges she is facing.” Seventeen percent disagreed, and 23 percent were undecided.
Some 57 percent agreed that Corona “accepted special favors like discounts in the [purchase of a] condominium and plane tickets.” Fourteen percent disagreed, while 28 percent were undecided.
The survey was conducted using face-to-face interviews of 1,200 adults nationwide. Sampling error margins of ±3% for national and ±6% for area percentages applied to the survey.
73% want Corona to personally testify
The SWS also found 73 percent believe it was important that Corona personally testify while 26 percent said it was not.
But 49 percent said Corona should wait until the Senate renders a decision. If he is acquitted, however, they are of the opinion that he should resign from office.
In contrast, 30 percent said he should resign from office soonest while 18 percent said he should resign only if he is found guilty.
The survey showed 34 percent somewhat agree with the statement “I will accept the decision of the Senate in the impeachment trial whether (Corona) is acquitted or convicted” while 33 percent strongly agree and 24 percent are undecided. Five percent somewhat disagree and four percent strongly disagree.
BusinessWorld reported defense panel spokesperson Karen Jimeno questioned the part of the survey on whether the people would support taking to the streets in the event of an acquittal.
She said this was “trying to condition the minds of the people not to accept anything other than conviction.”
“They should stop trying to influence Senator judges through these surveys… [and] it is against the rule of law to incite other people to engage in an uprising,” she added.
But it also quoted SWS president Mahar Mangahas as denying the charge, saying SWS “is not trying to influence or condition public opinion” and “neither is SWS trying to influence the senators in particular.”
He added the SWS wanted to gauge “the public’s possible inclination or disinclination to sympathize with people power in case of any moves to activate it.”
‘Satisfaction’ with trial
The SWS also posted on its website other findings about its March survey:
Twenty-nine percent were somewhat satisfied with the impeachment of Corona by the House of Representatives, and another 29 percent were undecided. Twenty-four percent were very satisfied, 10 were somewhat dissatisfied while 8 percent were very dissatisfied.
When asked how satisfied or dissatisfied they were with the ongoing trial, 32 percent said they were somewhat satisfied, 29 percent were undecided and 19 percent said they were very satisfied. Twelve percent were somewhat dissatisfied.
On the performance of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile as presiding officer, 42 percent were somewhat satisfied while 24 percent were very satisfied. Twenty-three percent were undecided and eight percent were somewhat dissatisfied.
On trust that the Senate will render a just decision, 51 percent were unsure, 30 percent have much trust and 19 percent have little trust.
When asked about the pace of the trial, 49 percent said it was too slow, 40 percent said it was just right, 11 percent said it was too much in a hurry.
When asked about the liberal or strict nature of the trial, 69 percent said it was just right, 12 percent said it was too liberal with the prosecutors, and 17 percent said it was too liberal with the defense.
When asked if the prosecution is being done in a just manner, 40 percent were somewhat satisfied, 30 percent were undecided, 14 percent were very satisfied, 10 percent were somewhat dissatisfied and five percent were very dissatisfied.
Asked about the defense of Corona, 36 percent were somewhat satisfied, 33 percent were undecided, 13 percent were very satisfied and 11 percent were somewhat dissatisfied.