Here are some other things that I got from watching the whole impeachment proceeding:
1. Do not fall for traps – In his own trial, Corona was tricked into testifying against himself. The prosecutors and Senators kept emphasizing earlier on that the impeachment trial is sui generis or the impeachment court is unique in its purpose and that the proceedings are not judicial in nature but political. According to them, this meant that they would observe liberality in applying the rules of court. While they were very liberal in tolerating the violations of the prosecution team, they became very strict in interpreting the mandate of the law when it was time to hand out the verdict.
This demonstrated that what seemed like a friendly invitation by the prosecutors and Senators then for Corona to show up was just a trick to bait him into incriminating himself. We will recall that after Corona’s testimony, the prosecution had changed its tune and decided that they will not cross-examine him anymore. The Senators for their part were suddenly no longer interested in uncovering the truth despite all the obvious holes in the prosecution’s allegations.
The best defense is Article III Section 17 of the Bill of Rights: No person shall be compelled to be a witness against himself. Never show up on the invitation of the so-called “distinguished” gentlemen of the impeachment court.
2. Put on your best poker face – While we understand that the months of relentless black propaganda thrown by the prosecution with the help of various media organizations took its toll on Corona, it was his nervous breakdown in the court that probably helped convince some Senators that either he was putting on an act or he was weak emotionally and physically. I personally hate it when I cry in the middle of having a heated debate with someone because I come across as weak. It’s the same thing with what happened to Corona. He could have avoided this had he not spoken for three hours and made himself a bit emotional towards the end; or if he had allowed his lawyers do most of the talking; or as mentioned above, use Article III Section 17.
Let’s face it; while we know what we are going through, it is sometimes hard for some people to realize what we are going through. It is even futile to make our detractors understand how we feel especially when they already have a pre-conceived notion of what kind of a person we are. Besides, we should never ever let our opponents know how we really feel. We should keep them guessing. Never let them know you are affected by their bullying. Bullies will keep bullying you when they know that what they are doing is having an effect on you.
3. Be ruthless – This is the only way you will win. The prosecution showed no mercy from the beginning until the end. It was obvious that Corona’s emotional plea to be understood fell on deaf ears because the prosecution was singularly focused on removing him. Some members of the public could see that the prosecutors were very hostile with the witnesses but that was all a tactic to rattle the person into admitting guilt or to test their credibility. Some Senators like Franklin Drilon and Teofisto Guingona did not hide their animosity towards Corona from the very beginning but refused to inhibit themselves as judges. Even the very blatant conflict of interest did not stop Edgardo Angara from acting as judge and issuing a guilty verdict. He saw his son’s role as prosecutor as a non-issue.
The defense may have been very honorable and laudable for their professionalism but they were dealing with a bunch of unscrupulous men and women who had the advantage of playing on their home court with their own set of rules. In the end, the defense team should have used caution in dealing with double-crossers who did not honor their words. In the end, it was the foul-mouthed prosecutor, Rodolfo Fariñas who hammered the last nail on the coffin. It was what appealed to the crowd and the judges.
4. Know yourself and your enemies – in general; one should know one’s weakness and strength before going into battle. You should also do the same with your enemies. Corona had the people almost cheering for him on the first day of his testimony. Just before he felt sick and walked out of the courtroom, he challenged his accusers to join him in signing waivers to disclose their own dollar accounts. Most people were impressed with his maneuver. The presiding officer had to bang the gavel to demand order in the court because some people where even clapping. Unfortunately, by then, the pressure of being on the witness stand had put a lot of strain on his health and caused him to do something that insulted the Senators who, as it turned out later, obviously could not move on from the perceived slight.
5. Be careful with who you associate with – sometimes people ask why bad things happen to relatively good people. More often than not it’s simply due to the party they associated themselves with. The whole country knows why Corona became the target of impeachment complaints. It was not because members of the House of Representatives were really concerned about his SALN. It couldn’t be because it is assumed that they were not privy to his accounts because of the bank secrecy law. Even Senator Juan Ponce Enrile confirmed this when he said “It seemed that the case was being built up only after the charges were actually filed.”
Yes, the impeachment complaints were filed because the complainants thought Corona just had to go simply because he was former President Gloria Arroyo’s appointee. In the Philippines, one’s connection can make you and also break you. There’s just nothing in between.
These lessons may be too late to save Corona but it is not too late for other individuals who may become the next target of the Aquino government. Everyone needs to be very careful nowadays because the law can’t seem to protect anybody anymore.
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