Theatrics didn’t work for Corona
Former Chief Justice Renato Corona’s theatrics before the impeachment court were, as Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas described it, a “palusot” (deception) that didn’t work and called to mind similar histrionics used by Richard Nixon and Ferdinand Marcos, both deposed presidents, to overcome a political crisis by appealing to emotions and public sympathy.
In 1952, Nixon, then a junior senator, saved his candidacy for the US vice presidency by going on television, denying he had given special favors to contributors to a special fund intended to finance his political career. He said he was a man of modest means who lived frugally and honestly. It was an emotional speech in which he said that regardless of what happened he intended to keep one gift, the dog named Checkers that was given to him by his children, fondling the dog while it sat on his lap. The TV camera focused on the dog several times, resulting in an outpouring of sympathy and support from the dog-loving public.
When Marcos, the Senate president then, was accused of land-grabbing in 1964, he went on nationwide television to defend himself. He was then running for president of the Philippines. He defended himself at the Senate session hall, lining up members of his family at the front row of the Senate gallery.
During his speech, Marcos pointed one by one to his family—his mother, his wife and his three children—and told the packed gallery and the nationwide television audience that he would never do anything that would embarrass or shame them. As he pointed, the cameras dutifully panned on each innocent-looking family member. Marcos gained the sympathy of the gallery and the nationwide audience. He went on to win the presidency.
Corona tried to pull the same stunt before the impeachment court, bringing his wife, two daughters and a son-in-law to the trial, and citing the anguish of his family, especially his young grandson, brought about by what he branded the unjust public accusations made by his political enemies and an insensitive and possibly conniving media. He made a dramatic exit allegedly caused by an attack of hypoglycemia. He returned later to the witness stand in a wheelchair.
But this time histrionics didn’t work. Not even the dramatic “reconciliation” on TV of the Corona family with the estranged members of the Basa-Guidote family, could win the public sympathy sought. And the Senate majority stuck fast to the facts and the spirit and letter of the law.
And so Corona, the head of the third branch of government, lost his crown.
As for Nixon and Marcos, fate eventually caught up with them. Nixon resigned before the end of his second term as president in 1974, in the middle of an impeachment trial, proclaiming, “I am not a crook.” Marcos was deposed after 19 years as president, 14 of them as an absolute dictator. Despite hard evidence to the contrary, he claimed innocence until death.
An ancient Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, had said, “A man’s character is his fate.”
—MANUEL F. ALMARIO,
spokesman, Movement for Truth in History (Rizal’s Moth), [email protected]
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.