Monday, December 21, 2015

Convicting the money and the jewelry

Convicting the money and the jewelry

One can never judge or convict money or jewelry as ill-gotten unless the court first convicts the owner for a specific criminal offense.   Impeached Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona declared the Swiss bank account of the Marcoses ill-gotten wealth on the basis that Ferdinand Marcos could not have earned that much money based on his salary as President and did not pay his tax. That decision is stupid.
Everybody knows that non-payment of tax can only make one liable for tax evasion.   Non-payment of tax is made mala prohibita because society so declares it punishable.  Ill-gotten wealth being descriptive of the conduct of man can only be declared mala in se after a crime was committed by him, which from a moral standpoint is contrary to human nature. Money and jewelry are not mala in se, but on the contrary, can be of great value to mankind. 

Even if we take it that owners of bank deposits, pieces of jewelry and all valuable items must be paid their corresponding tax, except for real property which must be paid annually as mandated by law, that comes in only in case of sale in the form of capital gains tax.   To annually tax every valuable property without the owner deriving income from it is to deprive him of his property, which is confiscatory, regressive and prohibitive.  

More than ever, to summarily declare one’s deposit or ownership of jewelry  as ill-gotten without the court proving   the owner  guilty of a criminal offense is to invert the universal principle in criminal law; that from henceforth, presume the accused guilty.   That now erases the required legal basis that the person must first be declared guilty before his property can be escheated or confiscated on the basis of being ill-gotten, like being found guilty of thief or robbery.
That is why the prosecutors led by the presidential good-for-nothing commission must prove it in court beyond reasonable doubt that the person, not his property or his money, is guilty of the specific crime for  which he was charged to validly confiscate his property by the legal process of an “escheat proceedings”.  When the Sandiganbayan and the Supreme Court proceeded to declare the deposit and the jewelry of the Marcoses as “ill-gotten,” that effectively short-circuited the entire judicial process.
Bank accounts and pieces of jewelry can never metamorphose to become ill-gotten wealth.  Money can only be demonetized and jewelry can be destroyed.   It is for this why the public took it as dangerous the court’s decision to arbitrarily call the Marcos’ deposits and their jewelry as ill-gotten without it taking the first step to prove its allegation.   As one observed, it was Jovito Salonga who affixed the nasty adjective to give credence to his self-serving conclusion.  When the justices casually adopted the term, they began to act as propagandists because the term “ill-gotten” is a conclusion of fact.         Even if we take it that a trial took place and the accused were heard, the conclusion that the money and the jewelry were ill-gotten effectively threw overboard their claim to a fair trail.  The courts imposed on the owners the barbaric principle that they are presumed guilty.  What made the earlier decision of the Supreme Court suspicious, odious and silly is it proceeded to conduct summary proceedings on the Swiss bank deposit that was transferred to the PNB on escrow.  The escrow agreement meant that the deposit can only be withdrawn in favor of the state after the Marcoses have been convicted by final judgment in a criminal case filed against them.

Moreover, the declaration was equivalent to saying the accused need not necessarily be heard in court as if to tell them there was nothing for them to prove or disprove, thus justifying an ex-party judgment.  Simply put it, the owners of the deposited account need not appear to argue their case.  Presto, the High Court came out with a hilarious magnum opus without thinking that they reduced their action to that of banditry.
As said, the government prosecutors led by the PCGG should have filed specific criminal cases against the Marcoses, say for stealing or for robbery, and prove their case beyond reasonable doubt.  That is why the legal term “escheat” was coined because it refers to the confiscation of the property owned by the person found guilty of the crime which was the subject of the trial.  Of course, Salonga and his yellow hypocrites have their reason for declaring war against the Marcoses.  They wanted to justify the use of the war-time term called “sequestration,” which is for the robbery victims to prove their innocence. 
The Supreme Court can never put the cart ahead of the horse. Money and jewelry have no life, they are inanimate objects. We can only judge them on what they are. The term “ill-gotten” refers to the conduct of the person, not of the lifeless money or jewelry. That is why Renato Corona and his ilk in the Sandiganbayan are the only ones of their kind in the whole universe to convict the money and the jewelry of the owners, and not the owners of the money or jewelry.  Logic and common sense will tell that before one applies the law, the judge must first know the facts and analyze whether the facts violated certain laws.  Only facts, not objects, are made by man!
Karma has finally caught up on him. He did not include in his SALN his bank deposits, perhaps thinking that the bank secrecy law could safeguard his credulity.  He failed to anticipate that his political enemies have their own agenda similar to what he did to the Marcoses.  Unfortunately, that delirious decision was adopted by the Sandiganbayan, even made a stare decisi for the subsequent courts of follow.
Impeached chief justice Renato Corona is bitter that an injustice was committed on him by the Senate Impeachment Court.  But how could he say that when it was his court that issued that infamous judicial precedence to derail the time-honored principle on the presumption of innocence in their eagerness to get hold of the property by hook or crook?  If only Corona would look back on what he did, he would realize how he vandalized the judicial precedents that made immutable the principle that “every accused is presumed innocent until proven otherwise”.

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