MANILA, Philippines—The family of Chief Justice Renato Corona, specially his children, should have been spared from the agony of his impeachment trial if his critics had been more “kinder, considerate and compassionate,” Senator Gregorio Honasan has said.
Honasan, who sits as judge in the impeachment trial of Corona, noted how the Chief Justice seemed to have been subjected to a trial by publicity to the extent that his children have been dragged into the controversy.
“(We should be kinder) in terms of our demeanor. Ayaw ko namang nagkaka-personalan. Proseso lang ito. Bakit naman iniinis pa natin, pini-personal pa natin?” he said in a phone interview Tuesday.
“Like what I said before, I expanded the presumption of innocence to presumption of honor. Bakit mo naman sisirain ‘yong kinabukasan ng mga anak at mga apo? Sasabihin ng mga abogado, the law is harsh but it’s the law. Kung ganoon, then let’s be straightforward about this,” he said.
But Corona’s children had already been dragged into the impeachment trial when the prosecution presented evidence before the Senate, sitting as an impeachment court, showing several properties in the names of his daughters, Maria Charina Corona and Carla Corona-Castillo.
”Had we been more compassionate, more considerate, more Christian to each other , we should have avoided that,” Honasan said.
If indeed some properties were in the names of Corona’s children, then the senator wondered how this could be used to impeach the Chief Justice.
“Hypothetical tayo. Supposed mag-asawa kayo, tapos na lahat ng mga anak nyo. May retirement benefits na, may mga properties ka, dinistribute sa mga anak kasi hindi mo naman madadala sa libingan. Tapos hindi pa sila self- sufficient…ikaw muna ang magbabayad ng taxes. Is that wrong? Is that a crime? Is that impeachable?” asked the senator.
“These are the questions that can be considered. Let’s go back in the property of the US, so pinagbibigay mo na sa mga anak mo sa US. So that’s going to be your defense. By some legal mechanisms, you gave it to them already. Ang punto ko lang dito, these are the defense of the accused. So what’s so criminal? What’s impeachable about that if you’re going to hinge your verdict on that?” he added.
But Honasan quickly added, “I’m not saying I’m moving towards a certain direction in terms of the verdict. Sa dulo nito, let that be presented in open court.”
Asked if he saw any basis now to impeach the Chief Justice, Honasan said, “I don’t have enough information or basis or evidence to warrant a conclusion now. I want to hear more from the defense.”
One thing is sure though, Honasan said, the world will not come to an end when the Senate gives its verdict to Corona.
“Whatever the verdict is hindi naman lulubog sa dagat ang Pilipinas. The world will not come to an end, the Philippines will not come to an end whatever the verdict is,” he stressed.