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House ‘Great Wall’ shrine to historic impeachment

Call it “The Great Wall of Epal.”

A self-congratulatory mural celebrating the victory of prosecutors who worked to convict then Chief Justice Renato Corona greets passersby at the south wing of the House of Representatives.

The “shrine” to the prosecution’s success in unseating Corona—unveiled a few hours before President Benigno Aquino’s State of the Nation Address (Sona)—is not likely to be missed.

Right smack at the center are giant close-ups of Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., House lead prosecutor Iloilo Representative Nathaniel Tupas Jr. and Ilocos Norte Representative Rodolfo Fariñas, whose “palusot” (lame excuses) closing argument against Corona was credited for helping bring down the country’s top magistrate.

There are also numerous “firing squad” photos of the prosecutors and their panel’s spokespersons.

The black-and-white mural is a sharp contrast to the pending “anti-epal bill” that prohibits elected officials and even appointed ones from splashing their pictures on posters announcing government projects.

Questions raised

The Philippine Daily Inquirer on Monday chanced upon the ceiling-to-floor mural, which appeared to have been freshly installed. Bouquets of fresh flowers still stood at both ends of the mural.

The mural was installed earlier Monday. After a ribbon cutting, the lawmakers posed for pictures in front of their own images and also with eager staff members.

A quick scan of the project raises some questions.

How come the photos of the Speaker, Tupas and Fariñas are bigger than that of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, who won more accolades than any of the prosecutors for his expert handling of the trial as presiding judge of the impeachment court?

Smaller photos

There are also photos of the senators who sat through the four-month trial. These, however, are about a fifth the size of those of Belmonte’s and the prosecutors’.

Whoever chose the photos of the senators seemed to have made sure to get unflattering ones of Senators Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Miriam Defensor-Santiago, who both voted to acquit Corona.

Marcos’ eyes are half-closed in his photograph while Santiago’s shot captured her with angry eyes and mouth wide open.

Recall that it was Santiago who almost daily fed the prosecution team with mouthfuls of criticism for its supposed unpreparedness and inept presentation of evidence against Corona during the trial.

Grudging nod

Also, why are the photos of witnesses limited to those of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares and Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales?

Private prosecutor Mario Bautista, who spent more time than most of the House prosecutors in examining witnesses and dodging questions from the lead defense lawyer, Serafin Cuevas, appears to have been given a grudging nod—his close-up is pasted at the far right edge of the mural.

Thankfully, Cuevas has a solo closeup shot, while some members of the defense team are bundled in a candid group photo tucked at the bottom of the mural.

Not his idea

Don’t look at Tupas. It wasn’t his idea, he said. He told reporters he was surprised when he was informed about the mural early Monday.

“We know (the impeachment) is very historical. The first in our history, and probably the last,” he said.

Tupas said the pictures brought back memories.

“While we were looking at the pictures, the memories came rushing back,” he said. “It was a difficult battle by the House for the people. It wasn’t easy, but you saw the commitment of the House of Representatives.”

The President had strongly wanted Corona ousted, and the House impeached him in record time—one day, with 188 members signing the articles of impeachment.

Earlier, the House passed a resolution commending its prosecution panel and the private prosecutors for winning the case against Corona, who was accused of underdeclaring his assets and not declaring his dollar accounts in violation of the Constitution.

The Senate, voting 20-3, convicted and ousted Corona on May 29.

Originally posted: 2:25 pm | Monday, July 23rd, 2012


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