Nation Divided on CJ

Article excerpt

MANILA, Philippines - Forty-seven percent of Filipinos believe that Chief Justice Renato C. Corona is guilty of the charges against him, while 43 percent cannot categorically say whether the chief magistrate is guilty or not, a Pulse Asia survey result released Tuesday revealed.

The survey drew mixed reactions. The Senate, sitting as an impeachment court, says it has no bearing when they will decide on the impeachment case.

But the prosecution panel from the House of Representatives welcomed it, saying it was proof that it submitted substantial evidence against Corona, while Supreme Court Spokesman and Court Administrator Jose Midas P. Marquez branded it as premature.

The survey, conducted February 26 to March 9 with 1,200 respondents nationwide, also showed that 5 percent say the Chief Justice is innocent, while 5 percent of the respondents have no response.

In that particular survey, the respondents were asked: "Sa mga ipinaparatang na pagkakasala kay Chief Justice Renato C. Corona, masasabi ba ninyo na siya ay (Of the charges Chief Justice Renato Corona is accused of, would you say that he is)... innocent (definitely innocent or probably innocent); or guilty (probably guilty or definitely guilty)?"

Of those who believed the SC Chief Justice is guilty, 15 percent said they are certain about his guilt, while the rest said he is probably guilty.

Of the 5 percent who believe Corona is innocent, 4 percent said he is probably innocent and 1 percent said he is definitely innocent.

Pulse Asia noted that practically same percentages across geographic areas (Metro Manila, rest of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao) and socio-economic classes (upper to middle class ABC, masa or class D, and the poorest class E) either think the Chief Justice is guilty (from 37 to 52 percent).

Almost all areas and classes also expressed indecision on the matter (43 to 48 percent).

However, the survey found that 54 percent of respondents in Mindanao said Corona is guilty, while significantly fewer residents (31 percent) were undecided on the matter.

Concerning how senator-judges will hand down their verdict, respondents were asked: "There are some people who believe and those who doubt that the senators who will judge the impeachment case of Chief Justice Corona will be fair. Of the following, which one is the closest to your own view? Will be fair and will not favor any one or will not be fair and will favor someone, or you don't know."

In this category, 69 percent believe that the senators will be fair and will not favor anyone when they finally decide on the impeachment case against Corona. Pulse Asia said this is the majority sentiment in all geographic areas (63 to 74 percent) and socio-economic groupings (66 to 71 percent).

Twenty-two percent said the senator-judges will not be fair, a view that is more pronounced in Mindanao (30 percent) than in Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon (18 to 19 percent). Nine percent were undecided.

Filipinos Convinced

The prosecution spokespersons said the survey results only showed that most Filipinos are convinced that prosecutors had presented overwhelming evidence to warrant the removal from office of the country's top magistrate.

"It only shows that the people monitoring the impeachment proceedings are convinced by the evidence presented by the prosecution," Deputy Speaker Erin Tanada said. "This shows that the evidence that we've presented is substantial to sway the minds of the people that the Chief Justice is guilty," he added. …