MANILA, Philippines – He may just be a high school graduate but Sen Lito Lapid earned praise from the prosecution’s so-called bazooka.
Deputy Lead Prosecutor Rep Rodolfo “Rudy” Fariñas commended Lapid, who cited Fariñas’ “palusot” (excuses) speech as a factor that convinced him to convict Chief Justice Renato Corona. Watch the interview:
In explaining his vote, the action star-turned-senator said Fariñas’ closing arguments clearly showed that Corona violated the Constitution when he failed to declare his dollar and peso bank deposits.
“Nakakataba ng puso,” (It is flattering) said Fariñas. “I think Senator Lito Lapid represents a great bulk of our people.”
Fariñas added, “People were telling me palusot was number 1 in the world, trending on Twitter and I salute Sen Lito for saying he understood the case well because of our explanation.”
Lapid was among 20 senator-judges who voted to convict Corona on Tuesday, May 29. Watch here:
Prior to the vote, Fariñas delivered the closing argument for the prosecution, along with chief prosecutor Rep Niel Tupas Jr and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr on Monday, May 28.
Fariñas told Rappler he expected even more than 20 senators to convict Corona. “All I know is that bottomline is 18.”
The story behind ‘palusot’
Fariñas admitted that his palusot speech was meant not primarily for the senator-judges, but for the public.
He explained how he came up with the idea.
“It was easy because when I was listening to the Chief Justice, I was nearest to him, I already saw that his explanations were all palusot. So I said, in my summation I will show his palusot,” Fariñas said in Filipino.
Fariñas said that when Corona testified last week, he saw the senators were likely to convict the Chief Justice because of his admission that he did not declare his bank accounts.
“But for me, I had to explain to the public that it is important that the decision of the Senate must be accepted. I knew the senators were already okay so I was addressing the people so they will understand.”
Fariñas said he was glad that his appeal to the public proved effective, with fellow lawmakers telling him that their constituents, barangay captains and mayors understood the case because of his explanation.
‘Justices not above the law’
Congressmen are relieved that the impeachment trial is over and they were able to convict Corona. For private prosecutors, the sentiment is the same.
Private prosecutor Jose Justiniano told Rappler that after 44 days, he is glad the trial is finished. Justiniano is known as the lawyer for US Marine Lance Corporal Daniel Smith in the Subic rape case.
“It is very taxing. I have never missed a single trial here since it started January 16 …. After all, our efforts were not wasted. I feel I have contributed to the betterment of the judiciary.”
Justiniano said while impeachment is a tedious process, it brought out many lessons for government officials, lawyers and the public.
“The lesson that could be learned is that all the rest, the justices, should not think they are way above the law.”
Justiniano said the next step now is to improve the selection of the next Chief Justice.
“I think the Judicial and Bar Council should scrutinize more the qualifications of the applicants because once they are appointed, it’s so hard to remove them and we can’t afford to have an impeachment every year.” – Rappler.com
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