MANILA (AP)–Impeachment prosecutors are scrutinizing a supposedly discarded draft of Chief Justice Renato Corona’s opening statement, which he is expected to deliver when he testifies in the Senate.
A scavenger rifling through the garbage bin in the posh Bellagio condominium in Taguig, where Justice Corona has a penthouse unit, found a crumpled but “important looking” sheet of paper and turned it over to a member of the impeachment prosecution team. The draft includes scripted instructions for delivery. The scavenger asked for anonymity to protect his livelihood.
The purported opening statement could have been drafted by the Chief Justice himself, someone from his defense panel, or by just a member of their staff. Members of the defense counsel unanimously denied that their client wrote it.
Here’s the text of the draft obtained by INQUIRER.NET:
DISTINGUISHED SENATORS of this very independent branch of our government; very impartial Senate President and presiding officer and still good-looking Johnny Ponce Enrile; even more impartial and honorable Senators Miriam Santiago, Joker Arroyo, Ramon “Bong” Revilla, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Manuel Villar and Lito Lapid; I come before you to present my [CHOOSE ONE: (testimony) (resignation)].
First, let me clarify one thing. I have come here fully clothed, contrary to a report of the pro-Aquino INQUIRER.NET. No, I will not do an oblation because I did not graduate from UP. I graduated from Ateneo where, according to reliable sources, I finished with top honors, which is almost as good as earning my doctorate from the University of Santo Tomas.
[BREAK THE ICE WITH A JOKE] Before I proceed with my [CHOOSE ONE: (testimony) (resignation)], I must explain that my chief counsel, the Honorable Serafin Cuevas, is the unrivaled master of legal technicalities. But he’s so old and actually very low-tech he thought the ombudsman’s PowerPoint was a lantern—hence, the “lantern of lies” statement. I declare him guilty of this mistake, but we must grant him parol(e). [WAIT FOR LAUGHTER TO DIE DOWN]
I come here before you to accept your judgment. This is my Gethsemane, where I willingly await my crucifixion. [GAZE REVERENTLY SKYWARD] This looks like the beginning of my Via Dolorosa, but my Calvary started earlier, when I sided with the oppressed peasants of Hacienda Luisita, who are so poor not even one of them has a dollar account. That’s when the conspiracy against me and my independent Judiciary intensified. [PAUSE]
The vengeful conspirators have whipped me, mocked and cursed me, and crowned me with thorns. [LOOK HURT] Fake surveys concocted by malicious organizations show that the majority of the Filipino people distrust me. This fake sentiment has been manufactured by the vengeful President Aquino. He orchestrated this fraudulent impeachment to put a gun to my head, as if to say, “Baka gusto mong pasabugin ko ang ulo mo.” Yet I, a humble, modestly paid public servant, stand bloody, but unbowed [WAIT FOR APPLAUSE TO END].
In my testimony before this august body, I will answer all the baseless allegations—any and all your questions with frankness. I will be a transparent lantern of truth. Let me preface my testimony with two general statements. [PAUSE FOR GRAVITAS]
One, as a man of no ordinary means, I indeed own a few valuable properties as I declared in my SALN. But several other multimillion-peso properties that are supposedly mine but undeclared, including the ones in America, are in the name of my daughters who are hardworking wage earners in their own right.
Two, I am an employee of the Filipino people. Contrary to malicious allegations, I have not stolen and hidden money from the Filipino people. Why would I? They are not my in-laws and we are not a family corporation.
Finally, before I face your inquiry, no matter how this proceeding concludes, I want to offer a patriotic service to our Motherland, which is being bullied by that powerful original homeland of the Cojuangcos and the Aquinos—CHINA—which insists that it owns our sacred Panatag or Scarborough Shoal. [LET STATEMENT SINK IN]
From the musty records of your independent Judiciary I have retrieved legal proof that China cannot claim such ownership, regardless of the supposed 15th century discovery by Moo Goo Gai Pan or Mu Shu Pork or whoever. [PAUSE FOR EFFECT]
In the spirit of patriotic self-sacrifice, I hereby offer documentary evidence that China does not own Panatag Shoal [WAVE THE DOCUMENT] As you will see, the title to that piece property is in the name of one of my daughters, Carla. (Discarded draft ends here—ed.)
The draft was obviously rejected. The margins bear scribbled remarks like “Less than acceptable,” “too honest,” “corny po yung joke” and “reminder—he’s not supposed to be a hostile witness!!”
As of press time, the prosecution panel concluded that the draft has no probative value.