UP survey reflects Corona verdict

Apa M. Agbayani
72.6% of UP Paralegal Society survey respondents say they don't trust the Chief Justice

LITTLE TRUST. Respondents say they don't trust the Chief Justice.

MANILA, Philippines – Before the senator-judges’ 20-3 verdict to convict Chief Justice Corona, the UP Paralegal Society released the results of the second phase of their survey on the Chief Justice’s trust ratings on Tuesday.

The first phase, conducted in February, was released halfway through the trial. The second phase was conducted last week, taking the defense’s presentation of evidence into consideration.

Relatively little changed between the two phases in terms of Corona’s trust rating and the legitimacy of his office after the impeachment.

72.6% of the 541 respondents said they didn’t trust the Chief Justice as opposed to 74% of the 504 in the first phase; 75.8% said he shouldn’t remain in office as opposed the 75% in the first phase.

Added to the 2nd phase of the survey were questions about the cases of the prosecution and the defense. 40.1% of respondents said the prosecution held a strong case, with 34.2% saying it was not strong and 25.7% said they had not seen that part of the trial.

50.8% of respondents answered that the presentation of the defense was not sufficient to defend the Chief Justice, 27.7% answered that it was sufficient and 21.4% responded that they had not seen that part of the trial.

“Both panels have merits on the case. The defense panel had argued their points well based on technicalities, but will this still prevail if public trust is already tainted?” posed UP Diliman university councilor, Jules Guiang, who was the head for the second phase of the survey.

Not mere spectators

The organization received flak for the first phase of its survey from Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, who said it was “a slap on the face” for the senator-judges and “a deliberate attempt to influence the mind of the judge.”

According to Guiang, the survey aimed to engage students in the national issue. “The Corona trial is not only a matter of those experts with the letter of the law,” Guiang said. “Ordinary citizens are merely not just spectators, we need to be part of the process.”

To critics, particularly to the senator-judges, Guiang said, “If they are adequately righteous, then they should have not minded us. At the end of the day, it’s still up to them to decide. We just provided a link to their constituents, a link to the insights and sentiments of their constituents.”

The survey was conducted both by distributing forms to students and linking the survey to students online.

Important document

That the survey was conducted after Corona’s controversial waiver — where he asked the 188 complainants to reveal their assets and liabilities — was a factor in survey responses. 79.1% of respondents said that the complainants should inform Filipinos of their assets and properties, too.

The Chief Justice’s Statement of Assets Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN), an often-overlooked document, was pivotal to the verdict. However, as discussed by the senator-judges in the proceedings, it may become an important document in assessing the honesty of public officials in the future. –

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