Opinion polls won’t matter in Corona Senate trial, says senatorBy Christian V. Esguerra
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Senate Minority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano has downplayed the role of surveys in the outcome of the upcoming impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona.
But Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, who will join Cayetano and 21 other senators as judges in the trial, said he would get “as many people involved” in deciding the fate of Corona.
In the Social Weather Stations survey for the last quarter of 2011, Corona had his net satisfaction rating plunging to minus-14 as 21 percent of the respondents said they were satisfied with his performance while 35 percent who said otherwise.
“The surveys have nothing to do with the process, for strengthening our democracy, for the strengthening of our institutions. And even if they did, we have to ignore (them) and (remain faithful) to the principles of impartiality,” Cayetano said in a recent gathering with Senate reporters.
Trillanes maintained that the trial was a political one and given that, “my verdict should not be based solely on evidence as it now becomes a matter of public policy.” He said he would rely on “political acceptability” in deciding on the Corona case.
“The over-arching policy issue in this whole impeachment episode is, whether the conviction or acquittal of Chief Justice Renato Corona would be good for our country,” he said in a University of the Philippines forum.
“To resolve this, I intend to use political acceptability as the sole criterion to evaluate the projected outcomes of either policy alternative of conviction or acquittal.”
Trillanes said he would tap “policy research tools such as quantitative and qualitative researches and stakeholder analysis…along with extensive consultations.” He said this approach would help him determine what decision would be “politically acceptable.”
Cayetano criticized prosecutors from the House of Representatives for presenting evidence against Corona before the media instead of waiting for the trial to start.
A number of senators earlier castigated Rep. Niel Tupas Jr. and his fellow prosecutors. Tupas and company promised to respect the Senate rule against discussing the merits of the impeachment case in public. But they have apparently resorted to leaking similar information through anonymous sources.
“For me, it’s simple. If you want to be a prosecutor, don’t talk outside the impeachment court. If you want to talk, then don’t be a prosecutor. You can be a spokesman or an individual advocate instead,” Cayetano said.