Photo from Tangulang Demokrasya FB group
If embattled Senator Jinggoy Estrada’s allegations are true, that the B.S. Aquino regime doled out an additional P50 million pesos in discretionary funds (or taxpayers’ money) to senators who voted to oust former Chief Justice Renato Corona last year, then it is safe to say the incumbent President committed a highly impeachable offense.
Bribing senator-judges with taxpayers’ money to obtain a conviction of an impeachable public official is undeniably an impeachable crime under the Cory Aquino Constitution. And if Sen. Estrada’s obviously politically motivated allegations were true (because he was forced to spill the beans many thanks to the administration’s “selective” justice), I was right in saying that entire impeachment process was a “moro-moro” and that the president’s goal was to establish political fascism by weakening or even destroying the judicial independence.
The president’s alleged use of public money to bribe some senator-judges to convict an impeachable official is a lot worse than misdeclaration of SALN (statement of assets and liabilities) of which the former chief justice was convicted.
It may be recalled that the short-lived Corona court ordered the total distribution of Hacienda Luisita, which was owned by relatives of the President, last year. For breaking up the controversial sugar plantation, the magistrate said “I am certain that the administration will get back at me.” Corona was finally declared guilty in May last year by an overwhelming majority of Senators via a vote of 20-3.
In his much-awaited privilege speech, Estrada lashed out at the B.S. Aquino administration for its “selective” justice, and claimed it also used pork money to guarantee the conviction of Corona, a Gloria Arroyo appointee.
“After the conviction of the former Chief Justice, those who voted to convict were allotted an additional P50 million as provided in a private and confidential letter memorandum of the then chair of the Senate committee on finance [now Senate President Franklin Drilon],” Estrada said in his speech.
Estrada insinuated Budget Secretary Florencio Abad was involved in the distribution of bribe money to anti-Corona senator-judges.
“Where did the money come from? I am sure [Budget] Secretary [Florencio] Abad knows the answer to this. And I am sure that this was not a unilateral decision of Senate President Drilon to hand out P50 million to each senator,” Estrada said.
However, the senator said he voted for the ouster of the Corona but did so only because he believed the magistrate was guilty as charged.
“I stand by my decision in my vote to convict the former Chief Justice and assure our people that I was never influenced by this incentive, which came after the fact,” Estrada said.
Estrada also chastised both the Commission on Audit (COA) and Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for lack of transparency and for singling out non-administration lawmakers.
Photo from Tangulang Demokrasya FB group
“The unclear system in the apparent secret arrangements and how much each lawmaker received could be the reason why the DBM refuses to render a complete account of releases to all lawmakers as requested by the COA,” Estrada said.
“The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) website only provides information on PDAF releases from 2009 onwards. Why was there no information on releases in 2008? 2007? 2006? And other years? If you open the 2009 pages, the PDAF releases for then Senators (Rodolfo) Biazon, (Mar) Roxas, (Aquilino) Pimentel and Senators (Francis) Escudero, (Antonio) Trillanes and Manny Villar are among those conspicuously not posted,” Estrada added.
The former and current senators Estrada mentioned are known allies of the B.S. Aquino regime. Estrada added they “all know that the budget negotiations they conduct with the House and the DBM include negotiations not only for PDAF and the infrastructure projects of legislators but also for so-called congressional initiatives or budget insertions.”
As expected, the President’s men denied Estrada’s revelation. Budget Secretary Florencio Abad described it as “illogical” and “completely not true.”
“As far as I’m concerned, we did not bribe the lawmakers,” Abad said.
Oh, well, as far as Abad is concerned, the entire administration did nothing wrong! That was it! It’s as simple as that. They’re in power and they can do almost anything.
“In fact, we were very careful with the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). We did not authorize any PDAF releases before, during and after the impeachment trial,” he said.
The additional amount, Estrada divulged Wednesday in a privelege speech in Senate, was contained in a private and confidential letter memorandum of Drilon, who was chair of the Senate finance committee during Corona’s impeachment trial.
“We have nothing to do with that [private and confidential] letter. In the interest of truth, he could have substantiated his (Estrada) claims if he opened and read the letter instead of keeping it private,” Abad said.
What about the senators who allegedly received “incentives”?
At least two senators admitted received said amount after the conviction of Corona, but clarified it was not a reward for ousting him.
Former senator Panfilo Lacson confirmed Estrada’s revelation that a reward money was allegedly released to senators who voted to convict the ousted chief justice.
“Senators who convicted Corona got P50 million, says Estrada…Not me,” Lacson said.
Whatever they call it– “incentive” or “after-impeachment” PDAF release– it’s still a bribe money if it was intended to reward those who stabbed the former chief justice in the back. And we the little people are being informed about this bribery and act of political fascism only because some senators felt they (non-administration solons) are being singled out by the B.S. Aquino administration.
Perhaps it’s high time for Estrada and other senators to realize Corona was the first victim of the current administration’s “selective” injustice. It was these senators who helped B.S. Aquino control the judiciary. Now they’re next on the B.S. Aquino hit list.
Those who denounced and opposed Aquino’s destruction of the judiciary and the politically motivated impeachment of Corona are now vindicated!
This presidential bribery issue tells us why B.S. Aquino is stubbornly unwilling to abolish pork barrel. He needs more pork money to control the legislature after undermining the judiciary by ousting Corona.
My thoughts on the Corona impeachment case
We have to properly, objectively know the reason, or motivation, why the President publicly campaigned Corona’s ouster as chief justice. Did he do it to pursue his anti-corruption campaign? If so, then, why did he also fail to include his dollar accounts in his SALN? Why did he fail or refuse to fulfill his campaign promise to divulge his dollar accounts? Why did the President refuse to sign a waiver after being challenged by the chief justice? That was clearly a big opportunity for the President to show his fidelity to his campaign promises and sincerity in fighting corruption in the government. However, he did not grab that opportunity, saying it was the Chief Justice who was on trial, not him or his minions.
Or: perhaps the motive behind the President’s anti-Corona rhetoric could have been fueled by his own brand of politics- his yellowish Welfare and Big Government Politics. That the President sought to oust Corona in order to realize his own political agenda.
Let me say this: The guilty verdict is clearly a sham. Luck does happen [in favor of the president and the prosecution]!
The problem is, unlike FDR’s “five stubborn old men [who] had planted themselves squarely in the path of progress”, Corona is faced with impeachment proceedings engineered by the President’s men to get rid of him.