MANILA, Philippines - The media blitz of Chief Justice Renato Corona stems from his realization that the judges that count are not the senator judges but the public. As revelation after revelation hogged the headlines of the daily papers, spread in the airwaves, and occupied the television screens, CJ Corona must have seen that he was losing the battle in the public arena. The need to regain what was left of his tarnished reputation has pushed CJ Corona to finally face the questions of TV and radio hosts, although it was clear that there was priority given to friendly interviewers and media establishments.
For CJ Corona, the best approach was to speak to supportive crowds as he did from the steps of the Supreme Court defending himself by attacking President Benigno Simeon Aquino III and other alleged ambitious conspirators - one for the CJ position and the other for the vice presidency. No one to subject him to rigorous questioning or to ask him for proof that the events he narrated happened exactly as he recounted them. Even in the interaction with the media on TV and radio, the CJ's stand seemed to be its ''their word against mine'' with reference to the President and to the aggrieved relatives of his wife Cristina.
Unfortunately for the Chief Justice, he is against a President who still commands enough popular support because of his personal integrity as opposed to the CJ's perceived grasping for power as evidenced by his accepting the CJ appointment from a President whom the Filipino people had rejected by electing someone diametrically opposite from her. Regretfully for the CJ, a public that holds the religious in high esteem will more readily accept the statements of a 90-year-old nun than a Chief Justice who did not faithfully declare all his assets in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net worth (SALN) as it was shown in the impeachment court. Even his defense lawyers' statements that SALNs can still be corrected reminds one of a boy caught with candies in his hands returning them to the candy jar and hoping that everyone will forget it ever happened.
The CJ's supporters are also suspect because a number of them are deeply entrenched in the justice system which has been seen by many as partial towards the rich and powerful, not the poor and marginalized. When anyone stands up for the CJ, the immediate query in the minds of some is - ''What favors did they get from the CJ and the Supreme Court?'' This may seem unfair but for a people who went through nine years of a government that glorified in its arrogance and impunity; of stalled impeachment proceedings because of the general impression that legislators looked the other way for millions of reasons; and a cabal of government officials who seemed to focus on helping each other rather than allow the public to know the truth such suspicions are understandable. Even as the defense questions the timing of the complaints of the relatives of Cristina Corona, the public realizes that during the Gloria presidency where the Corona's held supreme (it is said that the former President replaced the board of the Camp John Hay on her prodding), the relatives did not come out because of fear and the futility of it all.
Today, the Chief Justice has the opportunity to build on the sympathy his recent media appearances have generated if he now appears before the senator-judges rather than his wife. Given his years as a high government official (chief of staff to then Vice President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and later her confidant in the Office of the President) and as a justice in the Supreme Court, he should be able to handle whatever stress the questions of the senator- judges will cause. More importantly, his honesty, sincerity, and integrity should overcome all charges as the CJ challenges the public and the senator-judges, ''Judge me.''
Business Bits. When President Ferdinand Marcos in his own handwriting made sure of the absolute secrecy of dollar deposits, he had in mind the foreign investors who were being attracted to invest in the Philippines. He never imagined that it would be utilized by corrupt Filipinos to hide the fruits of their machinations.