Speech of Senator Joker Arroyo:
Explaining his verdict on Chief Justice Renato Corona
[Delivered on May 29, 2012]
I will not discuss what both the prosecution and the defense had already argued in the closing arguments.
Mr. President, esteemed colleagues, impeachment is a political process, not a political assassination. An impeachment aspires to be a judicial proceeding that makes imperative that it stick to judicial rules. An impeachment must ever uphold the due process that no citizen, high or low, can be denied. That is why we wear judicial robes as you see them, to listen, to ponder, and decide like judges according to law.
What started in the House was not an impeachment, for an impeachment is an accusation accompanied by necessary formalities, attended by the appropriate solemnities, flanked by the liberties and guarantees that a genuine grand jury proceeding upholds.
The purpose is to arrive at a sound finding of probable cause, sufficient to lodge a valid complaint charging real offenses before the appropriate tribunal.
The Senate is being asked to remove the chief justice from office all because he submitted an allegedly erroneous SALN.
The Senate trial could be as close to a criminal proceeding in a court of law as non-lawyers can approximate thus far, as all the great authorities agreed. What has happened is the passage of that to which the Senate president once warned—that we were veering close to a bill of attainder.
A bill of attainder is a law passed by one house and approved by the other creating an offense where there was none, inventing a crime out of actions, willful or not, that were innocent when they were performed. It is a legislative act of convicting an accused of acts that were not offenses in the very measure by which he is condemned through a vote instead of a trial on the basis of accusations taken as proof.
I cannot imagine removing a chief justice on account of a SALN.
Today, we are one step from violating the Constitution and passing a bill of attainder. No one can stop us if we do not stop ourselves. This is not justice, political or legal. This is certainly not law. For sure, this is certainly not the law and the Constitution; this is only naked power as it was in 1972.
I have not thought that I would see it again so brazenly performed, but for whatever it is worth, I cast my vote, if not for innocence falsely accused of offenses yet to exist and if not for the law and the Constitution that we were privileged to restore under Cory Aquino then because it is dangerous not to do what is right when soon we shall stand before the Lord.
I vote to Acquit. Thank you.