Speech of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV:
Explaining his verdict on Chief Justice Renato Corona
[Delivered on May 29, 2012]
My verdict is guilty, and this is my explanation.
Based on the evidence and admissions, Chief Justice Renato Corona had at least P80 million and $2.4 million which he did not disclose in his SALN. As an explanation, he said that he was bound by the absolute confidentiality clause of the Foreign Currency Deposit Law. As to the peso deposits, the chief justice claimed that they were commingled with other funds that were not his and, therefore, he could not disclose them.
However, Article XI, Section 17, of the Constitution is very clear in its language, “A public officer or employee shall, upon assumption of office and as often thereafter as may be required by law, submit a declaration under oath of his assets, liabilities, and net worth.”
To interpret the confidentiality clause of RA 6426 as a proscription to the disclosure of dollar deposits is erroneous, self-serving, and an afterthought.
As to the claim that the peso deposits were commingled, the AMLC documents, which showed a steady stream of deposits worth millions of pesos to the accounts of the chief justice, were given more weight and credence.
Now, as to the matter of public policy, it is in the interest of the country to convict Chief Justice Renato Corona. A conviction signifies that transparency and accountability as principles in governance take precedence over legal technicalities. This effectively takes away any refuge for the corrupt public official. Moreover, the claim of commingled funds and the confidentiality of dollar deposits will never be accepted as alibis.
A conviction also signifies that our system of checks and balances is working well and that impeachment can now be effectively used as a tool of the State to make high government officials accountable for their actions. From now on, no one is untouchable.
Lastly, a conviction signifies that we have considerably raised the standards for a chief justice of our Supreme Court. He must not only possess vast legal knowledge and wisdom necessary to interpret the law according to its spirit and intent, but more importantly, he must have unquestionable moral integrity and strength of character to render him impervious to corruption and political pressure as he administers justice for our country and people.