References: Bibeth Orteza and Fr. Joe Dizon,  Spokespersons of Pagbabago! and Co-Convenors of Gloria Panagutin Movement

Pagbabago! People’s Movement and Gloria Panagutin Movement welcome the guilty verdict rendered by the Senate Impeachment Court on Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona. The decision is in accord with the people’s clamor for accountability and the highest standard of ethical conduct from the Chief Magistrate.

In accordance with the law, Corona together with all other public officials in much less exalted positions, are called upon to “discharge their duties with utmost responsibility, integrity, competence, and loyalty, act with patriotism and justice, lead modest lives, and uphold public interest over personal interest.” Clearly, Corona is in culpable violation of public trust and his own oath of office.

It was primarily in the pursuit of justice that we joined in the move to impeach Corona and have him stand trial in the Senate. The widespread outrage against the Corona Court TRO that would have allowed former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and the First Gentleman to leave the country and escape prosecution propelled the impeachment of Corona by the House of Representatives.

The call for accountability and justice clearly does not begin and end with Corona. It includes his erstwhile political patron, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and her principal cohorts, for their anti-people crimes like plunder and gross human rights violations.

We were disappointed and dismayed that Corona’s abuse of his powers and prerogatives as Chief Justice to shield his political benefactor from prosecution and punishment was eventually downplayed and practically given up in the course of the impeachment trial.

Nonetheless, we followed the long-drawn out drama of the impeachment trial: the Senate’s admonitions about the defective impeachment complaint; the exposure of multi-million properties, peso and dollar accounts; Justice Sereno’s revelations on how Corona misrepresented the Supreme Court’s en banc decisions to favor the Arroyos; until the Prosecution rested its case by dropping most of the charges and concentrating almost exclusively on Article 2.

Notwithstanding the Prosecution’s weaknesses and errors, the Defense was unable to disprove the charges against their client when it resorted to more legal technicalities and obstructionism until Corona was forced to take the witness stand himself to counter damaging testimony by Ombudsman Carpio-Morales. He was allowed to give a three-hour monologue after which he attempted a walk-out to avoid being grilled on his “testimony”. When the ploy was met by almost universal disapproval he meekly went back to the Senate, utilizing his purported ill health to justify his totally unacceptable behavior, to no avail.

While we laud the fact that the testimony of Ombudsman Carpio-Morales proved to be disastrous for the Chief Justice, we cannot help but wonder, can not the Ombudsman similarly utilize all the vast powers at her disposal to gather sufficient evidence to file a plunder charge against Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo?

In fact, two years into the Aquino presidency, plunder cases filed by cause-oriented groups and private individuals—none by the Aquino administration— have either been gathering dust in the Office of Ombudsman or have been downgraded to simple graft and corruption charges such as the ones on the NBN-ZTE Broadband scam.

And even as various civil and criminal suits for human rights violations have been filed against Arroyo and her generals by the victims and their families, there have been no serious attempts at prosecuting and punishing the perpetrators and their coddlers in the Arroyo administration. The notorious Gen. Jovito Palparan is continuously able to evade the long arm of the law, human rights violations continue unabated and impunity for such heinous crimes prevails.

With the Arroyo-appointed Ombudsman and Supreme Court Chief Justice out of the way, we challenge the Aquino administration to deliver on its promise to make Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and cohorts answer for their crimes against the people.

Lawmakers and other government officials should also disclose their peso and foreign currency deposits. The call for transparency should go beyond the Chief Justice and the impeachment trial. Congress should take action in reforming our laws to enforce such standard.

We likewise stress that Corona’s removal from the Supreme Court must not be taken advanatge of to serve any vested interests. The fear of Hacienda Luisita farm workers that the Supreme Court ruling on the issue of compensation for the Cojuangcos based on a lower valuation could be reversed with Corona’s removal must be assuaged. The Hacienda Luisita farm workers fought long and hard for land to finally be distributed to their rightful owners. They do not owe their legal victory to Corona. And they will certainly not allow his replacement by an Aquino-appointed Chief Justice as the means to reverse their landmark victory.#

As the Corona impeachment trial draws to a close, the Gloria Panagutin Movement reminded senator-judges that while pieces of evidence presented in the trial largely dealt with Article 2 of the Articles of Impeachment alleging failure to disclose total assets and net worth, the case against Chief Justice Renato Corona should still be decided according to the various allegations of the case and in the spirit of accountability.

“We want to stress that the public supported the impeachment of CJ Corona mainly on the basis of his role as a key defender of the Arroyos in the Supreme Court.  The Arroyos could always find a backdoor exit from legal prosecution in the Supreme Court with Corona at the helm, as they did when they petitioned for a TRO against a watch list order on them,” said Gloria Panagutin Convenor Fr. Joe Dizon.

Article 7 of the Articles of Impeachment filed against Corona alleges partiality of the Chief Justice in the irregular issuance of a temporary restraining order by the Supreme Court against a watch list order by the Department of Justice on the Arroyos.

Most senator-judges though believe that the battleground is Article 2.  The Chief Justice’s failure to declare his assets and net worth as being an impeachable offense is expected to be the main issue of the oral argumentation of the prosecution and defense.

The Catholic priest however urged the senators to decide the case not only on the basis of legal issues related to the SALN but the Chief Justice’s betrayal of public trust when he aided the Arroyos to escape prosecution.

“This trial is not just about Corona.  We wish that in the end, the Senate impeachment court will decide bearing in mind how this all started: with Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo,” said Fr. Dizon. ###

ANG TOTOO

March 21, 2012

Watch Juana Change’s Latest video “ANG TOTOO”

March 21, 2012

Gloria Panagutin Movement and Juana Change Video Launch and Press Conference "Ang Totoo: Boses ng Taumbayan sa Impeachment Trial ni Corona"

News release

March 21, 2012

Broad alliance Gloria Panagutin! Movement today renewed its appeal to the public to remain vigilant as the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona goes on a long break starting next week.

The group issued the reminder in a press conference in Quezon City today where it also launched the latest video of political satirist Juana Change.

The Senate will temporarily suspend the impeachment hearing of Corona as Congress goes on its regular recess as well as the national observance of Holy Week.

Gloria Panagutin! said that the Senator-judges should take advantage of the Holy Week break to reflect on the weight of evidence that have been presented against Corona. It added that beyond the legal technicalities, the Senator-judges should be guided by the search for truth and justice and the public’s strong demand for accountability of public officials.

The group vowed to continue educating the public on the crux of Corona’s impeachment trial. Juana Change’s short video will help remind the people on the main issues enfolding the historic impeachment hearing of the Chief Justice, it said.

Gloria Panagutin! added that more than his questionable statement of assets, liabilities, and net worth (SALN), the people should not forget that Corona is being tried for his active role in the botched scheme of Mrs. Gloria Arroyo to escape criminal liabilities.

It challenged the House prosecution team to prepare an effective rebuttal of Corona’s defense not only on Article 2 of the impeachment complaint, which pertains to the problematic SALNs of the Chief Justice. It said that Article 7, which relates to the Supreme Court’s (SC) temporary restraining order (TRO) that would have allowed Arroyo and her husband to flee the country should be given due attention and preparation as well. #

Press statement

Feb. 29, 2012

Reference: Fr. Joe Dizon

The on-the-spot decision of Representative Niel Tupas Jr. to exclude Supreme Court (SC) Justice Lourdes Sereno as witness in the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona is deplorable. It does not only highlight the lack of competence of Tupas to effectively articulate the case against Corona. More importantly, it shows that the lead prosecutor of the House of Representatives in the impeachment case is not serious in going after Corona for conspiring with Mrs. Gloria Arroyo in abusing the people and eluding accountability.

May we remind Tupas that the people overwhelmingly supported the impeachment complaint against Corona because of their disgust with Arroyo and due to their deep desire to make the former President and all her cohorts accountable for their crimes. But by failing to argue that the testimony of Sereno is crucial and must be pursued to substantiate the allegations contained in Article 7 of the impeachment complaint, Tupas effectively and unduly shut the door on the prospect that Sereno may respond positively to the request of the prosecution for her to testify.

Rep. Neri Colmenares of Bayan Muna has a pending request for Sereno to appear before the impeachment court so that she can expound on her dissenting opinion on the temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the SC. That TRO would have allowed Arroyo and her husband to leave the country before criminal charges could be filed against them.

We warn Tupas and others in the prosecution team that this development not only undermines the chance of convicting Corona. It may also weaken the support of the public to the impeachment case against the Chief Justice. #

The Senate is facing a critical juncture in its hearing of the impeachment complaint filed against Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Renato Corona. On Monday (Feb. 27), Senator-judges are expected to vote on key motions that will help determine the fate of the people’s search for truth, justice, and accountability in the allegation that Corona exercised partiality to Mrs. Gloria Arroyo. Among these is the proposal of Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV to send interrogatories to Justice Lourdes Sereno. Another is the prosecution’s request for the Senate to invite or subpoena Sereno and certain SC personnel to testify before the impeachment tribunal.

A favorable ruling on these motions is crucial in uncovering the truth in the allegations contained in Article 7 of the impeachment complaint. The Filipino people have the right to fully know the circumstances behind the SC’s questionable temporary restraining order (TRO) that would have allowed Arroyo and her husband to leave the country and elude criminal liabilities. This is clearly a betrayal of public trust. This is an allegation that is very serious for the Senate to ignore just because the institution that the accused heads refused to cooperate and chose to conceal the truth behind judicial privilege and confidentiality.

We challenge the Senate to assert its independence and exclusive jurisdiction to hear the impeachment case against Corona. In their caucus on Monday, we urge them to stand up and do not let the SC completely hijack the trial through a self-serving resolution that effectively placed the entire hearing under its authority. The Senator-judges should decisively act now and end the mockery of the impeachment hearing instigated by the camp of Corona. If not, it will set a dangerous precedent wherein an impeached official could use the SC as part of his defense arsenal. It will give power to the SC beyond what the Constitution contemplates and will embolden SC members to commit judicial abuses with impunity. It will weaken the Senate as an impeachment court entrusted by the people to try abusive high ranking officials and will undermine its mandate to render justice.

Certainly, we recognize his right to exhaust all legal means to defend his presumed innocence. These legal means, however, should be pursued within a process that duly respects the sole jurisdiction of the Senate to convict or acquit a member of the High Court accused with an impeachable offense. But by using the SC he himself leads to undermine the Senate, Corona is only bolstering the strong public perception that he is indeed unfit to stay as Chief Justice.  The judicial privilege should not be abused by the Supreme Court as a means to cover up certain irregularities and criminal acts committed by its members.  In an impeachment case against a member of the High Tribunal, public interest should be paramount.

We enjoin our people to be ever more vigilant and be active participants in securing justice for our country. We could not afford to be mere spectators in Corona’s impeachment trial and helplessly watch as every step to unearth the truth is derailed by the cunning use of legal trickeries. Let us be reminded that in successfully impeaching Corona, we have reached an important point in our untiring efforts to make Arroyo and all her cohorts accountable for their countless misdeeds. #

NEWS RELEASE – February 22, 2012

Reference: FR. JOE DIZON, Gloria Panagutin Movement Spokesperson

The Gloria Panagutin Movement called on the Senate seating as an impeachment court to exercise its jurisdiction over matters of impeachment and issue the necessary subpoenas of records and documents of the Supreme Court pertaining to the promulgation of the High Tribunal’s Temporary Restraining Order and its circumstances.

Last February 14, the Supreme Court issued a resolution restricting access to its documents on top of the guidelines preventing its personnel from appearing before the impeachment court.  Citing this resolution on confidentiality, the Senate will no longer subpoena Enriqueta Vidal, clerk of court of the Supreme Court, as requested by the prosecution.  The Senate also resolved earlier not to summon Justices of the Supreme Court to the impeachment trial.

The Movement slammed the SC Resolution and expressed frustration that the Senate would easily give in to such restrictions.  Fr. Joe Dizon, spokesperson of the Gloria Panagutin Movement, said that the pieces of evidence are just with the Supreme Court and it is only a matter of presenting them to the impeachment court.

“How can we arrive at the truth when the Supreme Court is allowed to block every action of acquiring information either from its personnel or its records?  The impeached Chief Justice should not be made immune from accountability on the mere basis of a Resolution by a Supreme Court dominated by magistrates appointed by its chief benefactor Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.  The impeachment court should ferret out the truth on this matter,” said Fr. Dizon.

On Thursday, the impeachment court is expected to hear Article 7 which alleges the Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato C. Corona of betrayal of public trust when it showed partiality in executing a temporary restraining order of the Supreme Court against the watch list order of the Department of Justice on former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The Movement recalled that the rushed execution of the SC TRO in November 15, 2011 gave Mrs. Arroyo a window of opportunity to leave the country and evade justice.  The group however reiterated that it was Malacañang’s fault at the first instance that the Arroyos saw a chance to escape.

“Malacañang failed to file charges against the Arroyos at that time and that gave them a chance to maneuver in the Supreme Court with a petition for a TRO against the watch list order.  In turn, the Chief Justice swiftly acted on the matter and assisted Mrs. Arroyo in her attempt to evade justice altogether,” Fr. Joe Dizon said.

Gloria Panagutin Movement will join a demonstration on February 23 at the Senate grounds to highlight the issue of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s accountability in relation to the impeached Chief Justice.#

NEWS RELEASE

February 13, 2012

The Gloria Panagutin Movement called on the senator-judges to weigh in public interest in the issue of opening Chief Justice Renato Corona’s dollar accounts and in other crucial issues forthcoming in the trial.

On Monday’s caucus of the Senator-Judges, majority of the Senators voted to uphold the TRO of the Supreme Court and in effect will not compel bank officials to disclose Corona’s dollar accounts.

“The Senators sitting as judges in the impeachment court should stand firm when it comes to finding out the truth and exacting accountability in this impeachment trial.  That is why we are disappointed that more Senators yielded to the Supreme Court at this point.  They should not let the Supreme Court dominated by Arroyo-appointed magistrates easily intervene in the impeachment trial,” said Fr. Joe Dizon, spokesperson of the Gloria Panagutin Movement.

Fr. Dizon noted that the Senate earlier made a ruling to disclose the dollar accounts.  “The Senate should have stood its ground.  Public interest is at stake here and should be the foremost consideration of the Senators in making their decisions,” added Fr. Dizon.

For his part, Atty. Edre Olalia, one of the convenors of Gloria Panagutin Movement, pointed out that the TRO by a divided court on the disclosure of the Chief Justice’s alleged dollar accounts is fraught with danger.

“The Supreme Court throws a monkey wrench to finding out the whole truth on whether or not the Chief Justice actually maintains larger unexplained deposits that may not be reflected accurately in his SALNs.  The injunction may even portend what arguably may be the start of a creeping intervention by the Chief Justice’s own home court not only in particular issues in the impeachment trial but the whole process itself.  In this context, public interest should be paramount,” Atty. Olalia said.

The Movement warned that the Supreme Court prompted by Corona’s defense team could intervene in other issues in the impeachment trial in the future. #

Congressman Miro Quimbo, one of the spokespersons of the House prosecution team, shares his insights on the ongoing Corona impeachment trial at a forum organized by the Gloria Panagutin! Movement

News release

January 28, 2012

Convenors of the Gloria Panagutin! Movement and members of various civil society and cause-oriented groups together with some members of the House prosecution panel today held a forum to share views, assessments, and proposals on the ongoing impeachment trial of Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Renato Corona.

Representative Miro Quimbo of Marikina’s second district, one of the spokespersons for the House prosecution team, and Rep. Neri Colmenares of Bayan Muna partylist, one of the public prosecutors, shared their assessment on how the two-week old trial at the Senate has developed so far.

Groups representing the religious, the academe, youth, and other sectors were also present in the forum held at the UP Diliman’s College of Law.

Catholic priest Fr. Joe Dizon, one of the convenors of the Gloria Panagutin! Movement, said that overall, the House prosecution team has made important breakthroughs in the case against Corona despite persistent objections by the Chief Justice’s defense team led by retired SC Associate Justice Serafin Cuevas.

He cited the presentation and disclosure of Corona’s statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALNs) and documents pertaining to the income taxes of the Chief Justice, his wife and daughters that can help establish anomalies in the accumulated wealth of the Coronas.

But Dizon also encouraged the House prosecution panel to involve other public prosecutors and help lead counsel Rep. Neil Tupas in arguing the impeachment case against the defense and the Senator-judges.

“We enjoy an overwhelming public support in our campaign to oust Corona and make Gloria Arroyo accountable. But this does not automatically ensure Corona’s conviction at the Senate. We need to present our case and evidence in the most unassailable way possible. We think it will help the prosecution if Tupas, for example, can share more regularly the burden of arguing their case with his fellow House prosecutors,” Dizon said.

Dizon also reminded the House prosecution team that the impeachment case stems from Corona’s acts as Chief Justice protecting his patron, Mrs. Gloria Arroyo. “The people have supported the impeachment case against Corona because of their detestation of Gloria. We hope that the prosecutors can soon move on to highlight this basic issue,” said Dizon.

Convenors of the Gloria Panagutin! Movement renewed their commitment to closely monitor the impeachment trial and mobilize the public to ensure that Corona will be convicted for being in cahoots with Arroyo in committing numerous crimes and abuses against the Filipino people. #

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