I am always at a loss when the conversation is about teleseryes for I have never followed a single one of them. The “teleserye” that I’ve always followed is the Impeachment kind. Somehow despite the long hours and usual absence of exciting twists and turns, I still look forward to watching it whenever I’m at home. I followed the Erap Impeachment a decade ago and now the ongoing Impeachment of CJ Corona.
In March of this year I decided to watch one live episode. I asked a friend of mine to get me a ticket. I was all set to watch the following day but to my (and probably almost everybody’s) surprise, the Prosecution said they were resting their case! Then there was a break then another long one. When it resumed on May 7, 2012 it was not as exciting anymore. The witnesses presented were starting to bore me and the Senate President expressed his impatience and their intention to proceed with the trial at a faster speed.
Then came the exciting development when Kaya Natin! Movement for Good Governance & Ethical Leadership brought to the Senate President documents pertaining to the CJ’s dollar accounts. On Day 36 May 8, 2012, which I missed watching, new witnesses were announced to be called to take the stand. One of them was Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales. I was lucky to be given tickets by my friend Jess Lorenzo of the Kaya Natin! Movement. My 22-year old son accompanied me to the Senate.
At first I was a bit concerned that I even warned my son that this would take long hours of sitting with indefinite breaks in between. I told him, “Let’s consider this event an educational trip of national interest or what you called as field trip in grade school.” He was game about it and probably looked forward to our dinner date after in a nice restaurant of his choice in Manila.
The gallery was packed, a far cry from Day 36 attendance. In fact, my friend had a difficult time procuring tickets that we compared it to a UAAP Ateneo La Salle basketball game. I wonder how it would be when they present CJ Corona himself?
I wish to share some of my insights from our “field trip.”
1. If you want a man’s job done, give it to a woman.
I am not really a man-basher and I believe that men and women have to acknowledge their respective strengths and weaknesses in order to make a stronger team. However, in the unfolding of the CJ Impeachment Trial, I have noticed that the great witnesses that bring pogi points to the Prosecution team are women. There was BIR Commissioner Kim Henares in her firm but girly (sometimes giggling) manner of talking while on the witness stand. She refused to be confused by the cross examination questions of the Defense Team Captain Serafin Cuevas.
Then next was DOJ Secretary Leila De Lima who in her very authoritative manner of speaking with each word properly enunciated, you would think you’re listening to your favorite grade school English teacher. With her command of the language she was able to make everyone listen carefully to her testimony which, strictly speaking, qualifies as hearsay.
And then on Day 37 Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales’ turn came. The irony is that she was called as a witness by the Defense and she ended up (excuse me for the term) eating the Defense Team alive!
There were several highlights of the trial that kept my son awake and made us in the gallery unable to contain our excitement. We cheered and clapped and booed in the subtlest way we could.
When Cuevas was painfully trying to establish the Ombudsman as a hostile witness by tainting her as being biased against the CJ, she gave him sharp punch by saying something to this effect, “Are you questioning my mandate as the Ombudsman?” Enrile had to help Cuevas establish her as a hostile witness so the trial could proceed.
Another witty remark the Ombudsman made was when Cuevas reiterated that the dollar accounts are governed by the secrecy law. She said, “These documents did not come from the banks but from AMLAC (Anti Money Laundering Council). ”
And still another was when she suddenly quipped, “So are you admitting to the existence of these dollar accounts?”
The Ombudsman was a rock star on Day 37! She could get away with saying, “We are both sounding like a broken record!” without being reprimanded. And another thing she smoothly got away with was when after an hour of giving her Power Point Presentation (PPP) on the dollar accounts’ deposits and withdrawals she said, “I’m enervated, may I ask Heidi Mendoza of the Commission on Audit to continue the presentation?” Mendoza was immediately sworn in without any objection. It was when she started pointing out important observations instead of just gong on with the PPP that the Defense objected and she was stopped. The hour was late and the court decided that the presentation would be continued the following day by the Ombudsman herself.
2. The Octogenarians
While Team Captain Cuevas is still an admirable “court player” (he is the first one to greet witnesses and players from the opposing side to show he’s a good sport as he flashes his smirk which reminds me of Dr. Seuss’ The Cat In The Hat), he seemed to have “cueva’d in (I mean caved in) to the Ombudsman’s Amazona strength and confidence.
On the other hand, Senate President JPE can probably qualify as the nth wonder of the Philippines with his sharp mind and endurance. My young son was awed by the focus of the 88 year old wonder! In fact, when the Ombudsman was presenting the circuitous dollar account transactions, everyone zoned out – starting from the senators who were already chatting and talking on the phone (despite the sign “Turn Off Cellphones”) down to us, the people in the gallery. But JPE was still focused watching his screen and listening to the Ombudsman’s PPP. He is the antithesis of ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder)!
3. Some de ja vu or similar moments between the Erap and CJ Impeachment Trials.
Before the Ombudsman was allowed to proceed with her PPP on the dollar accounts, there was an effort from the Defense to stop it. Some senators stood up to say something, read the minutes of the previous day, etc. Then there was a motion to put the decision to a vote. When the Senate President asked for the senators to raise their right hand if they were in favor of the PPP, the people in the gallery (myself included) stood up to see who were raising their hands and who were not. We were immediately asked to sit down by the Senate ushers (who looked more like security men). Some senators hesitated and looked around first before they raised their hands. One senator raised his left hand to which my son said, “He’s not following instructions. Then I heard someone from the gallery say, “Of course everyone will raise his hand, everyone wants to be re-elected!”
This brought back memories of the Erap Impeachment wherein the opening of the second envelope was put to a vote and when those who voted NO suffered the consequence of their action during the following election.
The second de ja vu moment or similarity between the two impeachment trials is the presence of Atty. Ayo Bautista. The way he propounded his questions and the tone of his voice reminded me so much when he presented Clarissa Ocampo and asked her, “How far were you from President Joseph Estrada when he signed the documents as Jose Velarde?” To which Clarissa Ocampo replied, “I was one foot away.” This was the smoking gun of that trial and of course the rest is history.
Now, the question is, “Is the 17-page AMLAC report containing 82 dollar accounts with fresh deposits of US$12 million waved by the Ombudsman the smoking gun to end the CJ trial?”