More than six of every 10 adult Filipinos would accept any outcome in the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona, but if it came down to their personal preference, 73 percent wanted a conviction, results of a Social Weather Stations survey released on Thursday showed.
Only one in every four respondents preferred an acquittal.
The survey, which covered 1,200 respondents nationwide, was conducted on March 10-13, at a time when the defense panel started its presentation. The impeachment trial adjourned on March 23 for a Lenten break and will resume on May 7.
The noncommissioned survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points for national percentages and plus or minus 6 percentage points for regional percentages.
The SWS said that among those favoring conviction, there was an “intense” sentiment to see Corona testify personally before the Senate impeachment court.
Asked whether it was important for Corona to testify personally in the trial, 73 percent of the respondents answered in the affirmative, while 26 percent said otherwise.
The House prosecution panel was elated over the results of the SWS survey.
“SWS confirms what we’ve always been saying that the Chief Justice is expected by the people to show up, even including those who think he’s innocent,” said Marikina Representative Romero Quimbo, a spokesperson for the prosecution.
“Those who think he’s not guilty, which is merely 25 percent of those surveyed, believe he must show up at the trial,” the lawmaker said.
Quimbo said that the nonappearance of the Chief Justice at his own impeachment trial would be disadvantageous to the defense panel since it would not be able to answer issues raised by both the prosecution and senator-judges in the course of the two-month trial.
“His failure to show up will render a death blow to his defense,” said Quimbo.
Lawyers defending Corona also welcomed the results of the survey, but said the decision of the Senate should be based only on law and evidence.
At a news briefing, defense lawyer Rico Paolo Quicho said the results were “an indicator of where we are now and what we still need to do toward our direction of acquittal … and to make sure that we will be methodical and clear in our explanation.”
But Quicho said the survey results “should not be used in propaganda (against Corona) and sway public opinion because what the people have heard so far is only the side of the prosecution.”
Not popularity contest
Tranquil Salvador III, also a member of the defense panel, reiterated that the impeachment trial in the Senate was “not a popularity contest,” saying the public should focus more on the evidence presented by both the defense and prosecution panels in court than the issues being discussed in the media.
Salvador noted that the SWS survey was done a day after the defense started presenting its evidence and witnesses in support of Corona’s claim of innocence.
He expressed optimism that results of future surveys would eventually favor the Chief Justice and the defense panel as it continued to offer documentary and testimonial evidence to debunk the impeachment articles against Corona.
Jose Midas Marquez, Supreme Court spokesperson and administrator, said it was premature for anybody to conduct opinion polls because the impeachment trial was ongoing.
“We don’t know the basis of the respondents in saying that (the Chief Justice) is guilty or innocent. The defense isn’t through yet,” Marquez said in a text message.
The results of the survey showed that 79 percent in Metro Manila and 70 percent among Class ABC would accept any outcome of the trial.
Indicator of public anxiety
The percentage of those who preferred a guilty verdict was a high 81 percent in Metro Manila and 65 percent in the Visayas. By socioeconomic group, 84 percent in Class ABC and 70 percent in Class E wanted a guilty verdict.
The respondents were also asked whether they trusted the Senate to issue a fair verdict. Fifty-one percent said they were unsure, 30 percent said they had much trust, and 19 percent said they had little trust in the impeachment court.
“The dominance of the middle position, with a near-balance of the positive and negative sides, indicates public anxiety about the ultimate decision of the Senate,” SWS said in a statement.
The survey also delved into the perception on the move of the House of Representatives to impeach Corona.
Fifty-three percent of the respondents were satisfied while 17 percent were dissatisfied, resulting in a net satisfaction rate of 36 percent.
Satisfaction was high (30-49 percent) in all demographic groups, but most of all in Metro Manila (42 percent) and Class ABC (45 percent), SWS said.
More than half of Filipinos, or 51 percent, were satisfied with the ongoing impeachment trial, while 20 percent were dissatisfied, resulting in a net satisfaction rating of 31 percent.
Satisfaction was moderate (between 10-29 percent) in Luzon outside Manila, the Visayas and among non-high-school graduates, SWS said.
The SWS also brought up the perception on the performance of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile as presiding officer in the impeachment trial, the pace of the trial and the performance of both the prosecution and defense.
Enrile obtained a “very good” 55-percent net satisfaction rating, with 66 percent saying they were satisfied with his performance and 11 percent saying they were dissatisfied.
As for the pace of the trial, a plurality of 49 percent said it was “too slow,” followed by 40 percent who said it was just “right” and 11 percent who felt it was “hurried.”
Fifty-four percent were satisfied and 15 percent were dissatisfied that the prosecution of Corona was being conducted “in a just manner,” resulting in a net rating of 39 percent.
On the other hand, 49 percent were satisfied, and 18 percent were dissatisfied with the manner the defense was being conducted “in a just manner,” resulting in a net rating of 31 percent.
Asked about the fairness of the trial, 69 percent said the trial was giving the right consideration to both sides. However, 17 percent said the trial was favoring the defense, while 12 percent said it was partial to the prosecution.
Asked whether the Chief Justice should “resign as soon as possible,” “wait to be acquitted and then resign,” or “leave office only if found guilty,” 49 percent said he should wait to be acquitted before resigning.
Thirty percent said he should resign soon while 18 percent said he should leave only if found guilty.
The survey also enumerated some conclusions based on the views of those who preferred either conviction or acquittal:
The majorities from either side said they would accept the trial’s outcome, with the percentage of the proconviction side “somewhat larger.” Reports from Matikas Santos, INQUIRER.net; Inquirer Research; Marlon Ramos, Michael Lim Ubac and Cynthia Balana, PDI
Originally posted at 07:25 pm | Thursday, March 29, 2012