SC spokesman, however, said Corona’s parents had money
Exclusive by Raïssa Robles
Chief Justice Renato Corona could afford to own luxury properties like the Bellagio penthouse because he was a man “not of ordinary means”, Supreme Court spokesman Midas Marquez said.
In one interview Marquez gave to ABS-CBN’ Umagang Kay Ganda last December, Marquez said:
Dapat nating isipin, hindi sa pagmamayabang, ang ating Punong Mahistrado buong buhay niya sa Ateneo nag-aaral yan. Hindi naman mura magpaaral sa Ateneo. Pagkatapos ng kanyang pag-aabogasya, nag-master’s pa yan sa Harvard, sa Boston. Aba e, hindi rin mura yun. Siguro naman, capable bumili ng condominium unit ang ating Punong Mahistrado. May kaya. Hindi ko sinasabing milyonaryo o bilyonaryo pero may kaya naman.
I’ve always wondered why the camp of the Chief Justice, including Marquez, was quite sketchy with details about the pomp and circumstance of Corona’s parents. His biographical profile on the Supreme Court website merely states his father was a lawyer.
Early this year, I had the occasion to do a feature on Corona for the South China Morning Post (HK). Among those I interviewed was Marites Dañguilan Vitug who had written the book Shadow of Doubt: Probing the Supreme Court.
She gave me a transcript of one of the primary sources she had used for her book. It was a lengthy interview conducted by a reporter for Newsbreak magazine with Corona in 2002, soon after he was appointed Associate Justice of the Supreme Court by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Marites allowed me to publish this wide-ranging interview on my blog but said I could not disclose the reporter‘s name. I am sure, though, that CJ Corona knows who the reporter is.
I am publishing the raw transcript of the interview in full because it shows CJ Corona at his most candid, and excited moment. It also shows his character.
And it sheds light on the following assertion made by his supporters, lawyers and himself that have a bearing on his ongoing impeachment trial.
The reporter who interviewed CJ Corona at length and who made this raw transcript from her taped interview is Romina Gonzalez. She is better known in the industry under her byline Mia Gonzalez.
I have just talked to Mia to ask her permission to identify her by name, and she agreed.
Mia, who now writes for Business Mirror newspaper, has been covering Malacañang Palace (and four of its occupants) since 1994 to this day. She told me that as part of her beat, she got to interview Corona when he was still the spokesman of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and when he was the Deputy Executive Secretary to President Fidel Ramos.
Mia has that rare distinction of being the only Filipino journalist ever to be nearly arrested by the police for the alleged crime of libel, right inside the presidential palace grounds. You can read about that here.
The libel suit was filed by one of the Palace occupants named Jose Miguel Arroyo. He has since dropped it.
The Corona camp asserts his parents were well-off
The Corona camp has always insisted that Corona could well afford all the alleged properties found in his name. They argued that he came from a well-off background and as proof, they pointed to his studies at the Ateneo and Harvard U.
I have numbered the questions asked of CJ Corona. There were 37 questions in all.
In his answer to Question No. 28, paragraph 3, Corona reveals his father was a career official in the Bureau of Internal Revenue. In his answer to Question No. 8, he reveals he was raised in a one-income household. His mother, although a summa cum laude graduate in accounting, never practiced her profession but stayed home taking care of her three sons.
In his answer to Question No. 34, paragraph 5, Corona discloses his parents did not spend for his Harvard education. He got a scholarship.
Corona says his first SC nomination was considered a midnight appointment
Another thing the interview discloses is that Corona himself said he was initially nominated by President Fidel Ramos to the SC during the 1998 election period. But the Chief Justice then, Andres Narvasa, never even convened the Judicial Bar Council because he considered the nomination as a midnight appointment.
Corona’s narration of this epis0de can be found under Questions No. 30 and 31.
CJ Corona and Beth Mantoya, who notarized Cristina Corona’s Marikina property sale, worked together at SGV
Recall that when Demetrio Vicente bought Cristina Corona and her sister Miriam’s adjoining properties in Marikina in 1990, a certain Beth Mantoya notarized the Deeds of Sale. The prosecution found that Mantoya was never registered as a notary public, as required by law.
Corona’s lawyers did not deny this.
Since Vicente had never bothered to transfer the titles tohis name, the only documents he is holding would not have held up in court as proof as his ownership because Mantoya was not authorized to notarize.
In defense of Mantoya and the transaction, Cristina Corona sent a text message to reporters that said:
The notary public is Attorney Beth Mantoya who used to notarize the documents in [the accounting firm] SGV. When she resigned from SGV, she joined Romulo Mabanta Law Office which assigned her to Hong Kong for many years. She has since married a foreigner and last we heard she is now living in Switzerland with her husband.
What Cristina Corona did not tell reporters was that her husband Renato and Beth Mantoya both worked in the same SGV section at the same time. I did not know that they once worked there together when I wrote my piece – Part I: Corona listed Marikina lot in his SALN two years after sale to cousin.
All I knew was that Beth Mantoya was at SGV as a “tax attorney” until 1991 while Corona was once “a senior officer of SGV’s Tax and Corporate Counseling Group of the Tax Division. But I did not know whether they had worked together.
In CJ Corona’s 2002 interview with Newsbreak, he disclosed in answer to Question No. 17, that he was with SGV until he joined the Ramos government in 1992.
This means that he and Beth Mantoya had actually worked together. This therefore raises questions as to why Mantoya was chosen by the Corona couple to notarize the documents and why Renato Corona himself had stood and signed as a “witness” to the notarization, according to the testimony of Vicente the buyer during the impeachment trial.
Being her colleague, and possibly one of her bosses, Corona would have personal knowledge that Mantoya was not a registered notary public.
Corona made two other striking disclosures in the interview: He had a heart bypass in 1995 (Question No. 3).
And he said “I will not do anything that history will condemn me for (in answer to Question No. 37).”
Thank you, Chit and Baycas
Before I go on, I would like to thank two of the growing community of commenters on this website whom many now refer to as our Cyber Plaza Miranda.
Chit volunteered to type out the entire Newsbreak interview during the Holy Week break. She noted afterward:
It’s a very candid interview indeed! Especially that part that he was initially by-passed because of the prohibition period then… what an irony!!!
While Baycas was kind enough to insert in his busy schedule and proofread the material afterward to make sure nothing was missed. Baycas said:
It’s a good thing this will come out in order for people to be adequately informed. Let the readers weigh in on all available information.
Here is Renato Corona’s interview soon after becoming a member of the Supreme Court:
1. Reporter asks about Corona’s health
2. Reporter asks about his 2001 surgery
Corona: Intestinal infection. Nadaan naman ng antibiotic.
3. Reporter asks – You never underwent major surgery?
Corona: 1995. Heart bypass. I used to smoke a lot, four packs a day. I was like a chimney. Grabe akong nagsigarilyo noon.
4. Reporter asks – What happened to your mustache?
Corona: Noong kay Ramos na. Kasi alam mo, it’s quite tedious. After a few days, iba-iba na ang length. You have to keep on trimming it to make it look nice. Otherwise, pag hindi mo inaalagaan ang mustache mo, parang marumi. Parang marusing. Kung may time ako noon, sa barbero ako nagpapa-trim but it takes a lot of time kaya inalis ko na lang. Kasi, the thicker the mustache, the more time you have to give it to make it look neat and nice. Pag hindi mo inalagaan nang ganon, mukha kang kontrabida, parang butangero. Parang not in keeping with your image as a member of the Cabinet.
5. Reporter asks – How long did you keep your mustache?
Corona: 11 years. 1986 to 1997.
6. Reporter asks – What kind of family did you have? What were your parents like?
Corona: You know, that is one of my favourite question. Kasi, I’m really proud of my family where all men lawyers. My father, his two brothers in that generation and in my generation, me and my two brothers. We don’t have any sisters, all boys. And then, my parents are a very good combination. My father was a gentle person beneath his firmness.
7. Reporter says – Like you
Corona: Hehe. Outwardly, my father was very strict. Kami nga, isang tingin lang sa amin, nanlilisik ng mata, it was enough na, matunaw ka. If you did something that he didn’t like or that was not right, talagang titingnan ka noon nang direstsong-diretso na nanlilisik ang mga mata. Ganoon lang, walang sasabihin but that was enough to strike terror in our hearts. But beneath that, he was a very gentle person.
My mother was the inverse. She was very gentle outwardly but very strong inside. We grew in that environment. It was a very religious, conservative family. We grew up in a very conservative circumstances where prayers and spirituality and academic excellence were a priority kaya I could remember na college pa kami, we prayed the angelus every afternoon and going to Mass on Sundays, basta 7am. ke puyat ka, ke hindi, nakatulog ka o hindi, basta 7 am, we had to attend the Mass at 7 am, whether you like it or not.
My parents were very particular about knowledge and learning. My father was a very wide reader. My mother graduated summa cum laude from accounting. CPA.
8. Reporter asks if Corona’s mother practiced her accounting profession
Corona: No, she got married. She took care of us. So that was our life. From the time we were in grade school in Ateneo, we were always honors. Middle child. Importante na after the grading period, meron kaming inuuwi na honor card.
9. Reporters asks – Who’s the brightest among the brothers.
Corona: My eldest brother. Two of us got into the cabinet. My older brother was Arturo, DOTC Secretary of Cory. He was one of the bar topnotchers. He was salutatorian and cum laude UP College of Law. Sa Ateneo, honors parati valedictorian, cum laude, yong ganoong tipo. I’m the second to reach Cabinet level.
10. Reporter asks – Who were your role models as you were growing up?
Corona: Our parents were our idols. There were lots of love in our family. May kasabihan nga sa Ateneo, huwag mong aawayin yong isa sa mga Corona boys kasi parating tatlo ang darating sa pag nagkahamunan, nag-away. Parating tatlo yong darating. You have to fight three of the brothers. Ruben, he’s the Vice-President of the National Home Mortgage Finance Corp. My older brother is retired from government in 1992.
11. Reporters asks – How did you inculcate your love for the law? Did you really want to become a lawyer?
Corona: Hindi kasi I started with Management Engineering in Ateneo and I guess, nakita namin sa Father namin. He was always reading law books. He continued to study even if he was already old. We saw him study and being a lawyer, at the dinner table, he would always discuss what was happening then. Current events dini-discuss namin, tapos i-explain niya. It all started with curiosity. What is this thing called law? People were always talking about it, my father encouraged it, and of course, my mother being a CPA, also took law courses in accounting that’s why she could follow the discussion.
12. Reporter asks if at the dinner table, all of them were encouraged to discuss it
Corona: Yes, everybody was required to give an opinion. Hindi ka puwedeng totorpe-torpe kaya somehow, you have to be quick on your feet. You have to think quickly because you know that you’re going to be asked next. But you know, that developed quick thinking on our part and also, I guess argumentative skills because you had to defend your position at the dinner table. Slowly, gradual development of our interest in the law. That helped us a lot. When we were in college in the Ateneo, we all became debaters. I was the champion of the college debating team. My brother was the captain of the debating team that won the NUSP grand national title. Even sa UP College of Law he was the champion debater there. Ruben and I, from Ateneo AB tuloy-tuloy na kami sa Ateneo College of Law sa Padre Faura..
13. Reporter asks – Why did you take up Management Engineering?
Corona: I was interested in engineering. I’ve always been good in math. Even now….. I guess if you’re good in math, you’re analytical kaya siguro nakakatulong din yon sa aking pagka-abogado, when I analyze the situations.
14. Reporter asks what were Corona’s most controversial cases when he was in private law practice
Corona: When I was in the bank, kasi yong litigation. I started as a litigator. I had to handle cases at the bank….. Non-payment, fraudulent transactions, fraudulent mortgages, violation of commercial laws, etc.
15. Reporter asks what was his first ambition
Corona: Well when I was young I thought I was going to be an engineer. Kasi maliit pa ako, I remember I could repair a transistor radio.
16. Reporter asks how old he was then when he repaired the radio
Corona: Eight. I could repair transistor radio. I could repair faucets. Ang tawag nga nila sa akin sa bahay, siraniko. Imbis na mekaniko, siraniko, kasi sabi nila, yung iba raw, sinisira ko. Pero I don’t recall anything na sinira ko. In fact, I always had a solution sa mga problema.
I remember yung plantsa namin noong araw, eight years old lang ako, nagawa ko yung plantsa. Hindi umiinit. Binuksan ko yung plantsa, tapos nakita ko na may misconnection sa loob. Kinabit ko. I was only eight. Napaandar ko.
Yung transistor radio ng Lola ko, napaandar ko yon, hindi nila mapaandar eh.
And I remember, yong piano, binuksan ko yung likod ng piano. I was 12. May portion na hindi umaandar. Binuksan ko yung likod. Natanggal pala yung kuwerdas. So nakabit ko. Napaandar ko. Yung tipong ganoon.
And I loved it. Pag may pinapagawa doon sa bahay namin, palagi akong nakatutok doon. I love it e. I love mechanical things. Electronic things, mga ganyan. Parang yung sa kotse. Alam ko yung mga problema na mechanical.
When I was driving my own car, ni minsan hindi ako itinirik. Because they were all well maintained.
17. Reporter asks – How did you get into public service?
Corona: In 1992, I was invited by President Ramos because I helped in the campaign. I was invited by President Ramos in joining Malacañang, initially, akala ko sandali lang ako diyan. I was with SGV at the time and I wasn’t sure what I would expect in the government service kasi nadidinig ko nga. Marami akong apprehensions, but I guess over time, I realized that there are rewards na hindi mo naman nakukuha sa private sector. I got to like it na, public service.
18. Reporter asks – What are the rewards?
Corona: I was lucky that my first government stint was Malacañang. When you’re a Malacañang official, isang tawag mo lang. For instance, merong emergency case na kailangang-kailangan ng operation. You can call the Heart Center and because you’re a Malacañang official, your’re really prioritized.
Tapos yung mga merong mga cases na illegal arrest. Isang tawag mo lang, you know, let’s say naniwala ka sa innocence ng tao na medyo hindi tama ang pag-aaresto sa kanya o wala namang kasalanan. They give due recognition to you as a Malacañang official. Hindi ka naman basta-basta you would just spring this guy from jail maski guilty siya. Hindi naman ganoon. Ine-evaluate ko rin naman kung sinong nilalapit ko.
Hindi naman ako politician. I’m not really a person who would help you right a wrong just because I want your vote. I’m not like that. I have no political ambitions. I look at the righteousness of the request. If it’s right and the person is innocent, I help out. That’s something you cannot do in the private sector. Kahit na sikat na abogado ka sa private sector, hindi mo magagawa ang ganyan.
19. Reporter asks – How has Malacañang prepared you for the Supreme Court?
Corona: First the experience in government administration. Alam mo, diyan sa Supreme Court, marami ring kaso diyan political law, constitutional law, administrative law. These are all branches of the law that deal with government service and the actuations of government. And I think having been in the bureaucracy especially in the highest echelons of government in Malacañang, I think I was able to acquire an insight into all these things which would prepare me to much wiser, much better decision-making ability.
20. Reporter asks – What are you bringing into the Supreme Court?
Corona: I’m particularly very proud of one thing. During the six years that I ran the Malacañang Legal Office, from 1992 to 1998 during the term of President Ramos, for the first time in the history of the Malacañang Legal Office, there was no backlog of cases and I’m very, very, very proud of that. Yung commendation sa akin ni President Ramos hangs proudly in my den. He acknowledged that fact that for the first time in the history of the MILO, there was no backlog.
Perennial yang backlog na yan but in my time there was no backlog. And I’m proud not only of the fact that there was no backlog. I was proud of the correctness of my decisions because of the thousands of decisions that were prepared and signed during those six years, about 300 were appealed to the Court of Appeals and or to the Supreme Court. It was a DAR case involving 300 plus hectares of land. Sumilao, Bukidnon. That was reversed on a technicality. They said the case was appealed to the Supreme Court out of time. The decision was already final.
That was my only reversal. I got 99.99 percent affirmation vote of all my decisions. Not only with the quickness and the promptness with which I dispensed the cases but also the correctness of my decisions. And that’s what I’m bringing to the Supreme Court, I think. The ability to work hard, work overtime, and the knowledge, the competence in handling various legal issues.
21. Reporter asks – What system did you use?
Corona: Put it diplomatically, I don’t want to acquire some measure of success by putting other people down. I think some of my predecessors were just waiting for the cases or for the drafts of decisions or whatever to be submitted to them by the lawyers.
Ako, I took a very proactive role in the management and handling of cases. Talagang sinusundan ko. I made a graph, a chart. I knew exactly when a case would come in, so I keep track of them. So I would talk to the lawyers individually. Sabi ko matagal na ang kasong yan. Can I have the draft in about two weeks. Tinututukan ko yan. Siguro either ninenerbiyos ang mga bata or yung mga matatandang abogado, medyo nahihiya naman sa akin. Imbis na masita sila, ginagawa na lang nila.
So I kept very close monitoring of when the case was assigned to a particular lawyer and when the draft was finished. Yung finalizing naman noon ng mga draft decisions na yon, pagpasok sa akin within one or two days, labas na yon, pirmado na yon kasi hindi ko pinatatagal. I remember the first five months of the Ramos administration, from July to November of 1993, I went to office everyday, Monday to Sunday.
Talagang yung Misis ko noon, galit na galit na sa akin. And I would stay in the office from 8 am to late at night. Talagang tinapos ko ‘yon. Alam mo noong pumasok kami ng June 1992, there were about 700 cases. Halos nandoon na sa ceiling yung tambak-tambak na kaso sa kuwarto ko noon. In fact I have pictures. It took me five months, walang bakasyon. Then after that, mabilis na, tinututukan ko na para hindi na magbaback-log ulit.
22. Reporter asks – May nakaaway kayo sa Malacañang?
Corona: Hindi nakabangga, nagkasamaan kami ng loob. Si Ruben Torres. Magkaibigan naman kami ni RT. May bata siya doon. Sa OES [NOTE: Ofdfice of the Executive Secretary]. Intriga nang intriga. Parati akong iniintriga. I think he wanted to be DES [NOTE: Deputy Executive Secretary]. At first, they spoke, Torres told him what he heard and he explained his side. Then they would become friends again. Basta, hindi niya na ako tinawagan.
Later on, I found out nagalit daw siya sa akin. He called Torres to ask what he had against him, but Torres insisted on what he heard. Sa tono niya, parang naniniwala siya. Sinabi ko lang sa kanya, bakit hindi puwedeng katulad noon na tinatawagan mo ako? E kasi sabi niya, ganyan, ganyan. From the time he resigned in 1997, I haven’t seen him until now.
23. Reporter asks what his approach was and whether he was very conciliatory
Corona: I’m very frank but very tactful. Di ba tinatawagan mo naman ako noon? Sana tinawagan mo na lang ako. Ako pa ang lumapit sa kanya. Hindi naman ako palaaway.
24. Reporter asks – Paano kayo magalit? Hindi ba noong puyat kayo. Rare ba yon?
Corona: Hehehe. Kasi wala akong tulog noon tapos nagsasalita ako, Sir, Sir! Yon lang naman. Actually, hindi naman ako nagalit noon. Nabigla lang ako. I can count with my five fingers the number of times na nagalit ako.
25. Reporter asks – What makes you angry?
Corona: Hindi galit. Yung kinakainis. Even doon sa intriga, hindi ako nagagalit e. hindi ako pikon. Yung kinaiinis, yung sources of irritation, pet peeves, yung pagkaburara. Naiinis ako sa taong burara. Tapos naiinis ako sa taong late. Yung hindi marunong tumupad sa usapan. Yung may usapan na tayo tapos biglang papalitan. Ayoko nang ganoon.
Sa kin kung hindo mo puwedeng sundin yung usapan natin, sabihin mo sa akin. Wag yung basta hindi mo gagawin. Yung nagbitaw ka ng salita tapos sisirain mo. Kasi ako basta ako nagbitaw ng salita ko, come hell or high water, paninindigan ko yan.
Mahirap akong papangakuin pero pag nangako ako, talagang you can rely on it. Mga ganoon. Not to the point that I confront them; hindi ako confrontational. Kahit na burara, naiinis lang ako sa loob ko. I won’t even say it. You won’t even see me na sumimangot.
26. Reporter asks – How do you deal with stress?
Corona: I love movies and I love old music, ‘yung tinatawag na senti Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, Tony Bennett, Frankie Lane. Si Diomedes Maturan, gustong-gusto ko yon. And I love kundiman. Sylvia La torre, Ric Manrique. I have a very wide collection of CDs.
I remember when the Admin Bldg. in Malacañang was burned in 1995, nasunog yong CD collections ko. Years ko inaccumulate yon. I lost many things during that fire but I really grieved for the loss of my CDs and cassette tapes. Talagang dinamdam ko yan. Nandoon lahat.
Kasi gusto ko the whole day may tumutugtug na music. Talagang dinamdam ko ang pagkawala. But I was able to build up my library again.
27. Reporter asks for his favorite movie
Corona: A Beautiful Mind. I watched it three times.
28. Reporter asks – When you were taking up law, did you ever think that you would get into the SC?
Corona: (Rubs eyebrows.) I’ll give you an anecdote. During my first semester in law school, my professor happened to be also the Dean of the Ateneo Law School, former CA presiding Justice Arturo Diaz. He was Solicitor General and then later on, CA Presiding Justice of President Quirino.
He was our Dean, at the same time, he was handling some subjects and I was in his class. He was a lawyer of the old school. “Yung nagroll ang mga ‘R’. Napakastrikto. Terror. Tapos yong father niya, Justice Anacleto Diaz na pinatay ng Hapon.
Anyway, Justice Diaz, I remember one afternoon I got into an argument with him. There was a raging constitutional issue then, first semester. This was outside the classroom. Freshmen, first year law, first semester. Tumabi ako sa kanya sa bangko. He taught my father and my father-in-law. Vicente Roco, Jr., father-in-law. Father ko, Juan Corona, he was in the BIR; career siya sa BIR when he retired.
We got into an argument and he was holding a certain position about that constitutional issue. Tapos sabi ko: Sir, I beg to disagree with you. I think it should be seen this way. Tapos, isang oras kaming nag-a-argue. Talagang hindi ako tumiklop sa kanya. Ang tagal. It was only cut short by the bell. Classes were going to begin. But before he stood up, he said ‘Young man’, I can clearly remember what he said, ‘Young man, with that force of reasoning’, he said, ‘someday you will sit in the Supreme Court.” Nag self-fulfilling prophecy siya. I never forgot that. And then I, dreaming… Justice of the Supreme Court. I really said, someday I would like to be in the Supreme Court.
29. Reporter asks – Nagulat kayo?
Corona: To me, it was the highest compliment. CA Presiding Justice told a first year law student that someday he will sit in the Supreme Court. After that, I became very close to him. Malakas na ako sa kanya.
30. Reporter asks how many times he was nominated to the Supreme Court
Corona: Twice. The first time I was nominated was in 1998 but the JBC did not meet. Narvasa did not convene it.
31.Reporter asks why Chief Justice Narvasa did not convene the Judicial Bar Council to weigh his appointment to the SC
Corona: According to him, it was already within the prohibited period before elections. No appointments in the government or the judiciary could be made. Narvasa invoked that, that’s why he did not convene the JBC. They did not publish the names anymore.
The President himself was the one rooting for me. It was just Narvasa who refused to convene the JBC.
That slot wasn’t filled during the time of Ramos. Estrada won, and that slot, that slot – was later on filled in by Erap – which I was seeking. And you know who he appointed there, Pardo, the Comelec Chairman. And then later on, just an interesting sidelight, ironically, it was Pardo who nominated me to this slot which I now got. Parang umiikot. There’s some rhythm to it.
32. Reporter asks how his parents and family reacted to his appointment ot the SC
Corona: My parents are dead already. My father died in 1979, in a vehicular accident and my mother died 1995 of cancer.
33. Reporter asks – What would they have said?
Corona: I’m sure they would have been very happy because (blinking tears) I got married in first year law – (at) 22. And my father was very angry not because they did not like my wife. As a matter of fact, my parents-in-law were their friends. But my father wanted me to finish law first before I get married. And here I was, right after college, I wanted to get married already. Three years ko na ring girlfriend.
34. Reporter asks for the name of his wife
Corona: Hayaan mo na yon. Hahaha. I want to keep my family’s privacy.
So my father was very angry. He was angry at me and he was also getting angry at my mother because it was okay with her, if I wanted to get married. And I remember my father telling my mother: ‘If you allow him to get married, he will never finish law.’
His dream was for all of us to be lawyers. Which actually happened. So I told my father, I promise you I will become a lawyer. Don’t be afraid that I won’t finish it.
So on my graduation day in 1974, if you’re married, the hood, by tradition, you give it to your wife, your wife puts on your hood. If you’re not married, it was your mother who put on the hood. But during my graduation, I spoke with my wife and my mother. I will give the honor to Papa. When my name was called, I gave the hood to my father and I said, ‘Papa, the honor belongs to you. I kept my promise to you. I finished law.’
For the first time, I saw my father cry. Batangueno yon, macho. He doesn’t show any emotion. Very strict ang decorum niya. I hugged him.
After eight years, I went to Harvard. I was able to get a scholarship. When I graduated from Harvard, I became teary-eyed also because by that time my father had already gone, he passed away. And I remembered him when I got my diploma.
Kinakausap ko siya in my mind: Kinakatakot niyo na hindi ako makakatapos ng law. Hindi lang ako nakatapos ng law, pumasa ako ng bar with flying honors at nakarating pa ako sa Harvard. I’m emotional when it concerns family. We’re very, very close.
35. Reporter asks why his family has remained unnamed
Corona: I want to shield from the public eye. Everybody wanted to interview me and my family. Sa TV, they wanted to feature my family, but it was actually my family who wanted it.
Suffice it to say that I have two daughters, they’re both physical therapists.
The only boy in between is a graduate of psychology. Very tall and very good looking. Taller than me.
My daughter is giving birth. I’m looking forward to be a grandfather and to be called Lolo. I saw this in my father, in my parents.
Fear in God. Takot ako sa Diyos. At the same time, katulad nga nitong sa Supreme Court, maraming mga umiintriga.
I never asked God to have me appointed or my appointment. Ang dasal ko sa Diyos is I leave it all to you. Whatever you want, because you see what’s good for me, I’m leaving it up entirely to you. So yon ang dasal ko.
Number 2, I think I’m basically kind and forgiving person. I’m not quick to anger and I think I have more patience than most people. That’s why I think I have few enemies.
Of course there are people who don’t like me. People who don’t like me are not necessarily my enemies. They probably they don’t like me because of something I said or something I did. There might have been some difference in opinion but it’s not necessarily because they’re my enemy.
I’m a very good friend. I stand by my friends. Yung mga kaibigan ko sa Ateneo Grade school when we were in short pants, up to now are still my friends. I don’t have too many friends in the sense that I’m a politician, any Tom, Dick and Harry, kaibigan ko, hindi ganoon e.
I don’t have too many friends but my friends are friends whom I sincerely treasure and take care of. And I stand by them come hell or high water.
I believe that a person should not stagnate intellectually. One has to keep on learning and reading and studying and acquiring knowledge all the time. Kaya if you’ll notice up to now, I’m still studying. I never stopped studying. I’m always enrolled in some course or another whether degree or non-degree.
I love books, aside from CDs and cassettes.
I like reading history. I’m a historical buff. That’s why I enjoy it a lot when I’m in the States, meron doong History Channel. Hindi na ako umaalis sa History Channel na yon. Even here, my whole library at home, 80 percent are history books.
In fact after my doctorate in civil law, I plan to take a PhD in history, siguro sa Ateneo or UST, or wherever. Ilang units na lang ang kailangan ko diyan.
By next March 2003. I’m doing my dissertation already. By next semester, ipe-present ko na yon. Yung mga classmates ko sa UST, ang babata. Yung mga kumukuha ng Master of Laws (ask me) bakit kayo nag-aaral pa? Nasa Cabinet na kayo. It’s because of my drive for academic excellence. A person should not stop learning. Dapat may pinag-aaralan ka, dapat meron kang binabasa.
What I read I pass on to my children. Kaya my children, they’re very intelligent also. While they were growing up, ginagawa ko rin sa kanila, when they were still at home, kasi they’re not at home anymore. Parating may discussion, unlike noong panahon namin, panay law ang dini-discuss. They like to listen to the capture of Gen. Aguinaldo, the Presidents of the Philippines, what are the traits of Quezon, programs of Quirino. They really like that. Axis and Allied, the Marshall Plan for Europe.
I really like lecturing. I was a professor for 17 years. I love teaching. I think I have a way of telling stories. Development of the CPP-NPA from the time it started in the 1930s. We don’t talk about just anything. We talk about more intelligent things, about the present state of affairs of the Philippines. LRT, plan of Quirino, mass transit system in the 1950s. Quirino was a very good economist.
36. Reporter asks Corona to comment on criticisms about his appointment
Corona: Those are just intrigues. Meron silang mga manok nila. Siguro may sari-sarili silang iniisponsor na kandidato. So since they think that ako yong frontrunner because I happened to be in Malacañang, crab mentality.
37. Reporter asks for his message to his critics and those who don’t believe in him
Corona: That’s their opinion, so I can’t say they’re wrong. That is their belief so who am I to say they’re wrong and I’m right, if that’s their view. It’s valid in the sense that who am I to refute it if that’s what they think of me. But I think my track record speaks for itself. And those saying that Corona is politically biased, I think that’s a little too sweeping a statement. Ni wala pa silang nakikita sa akin, binabatikos na ako ng politically biased.
Who are they naman to guess what my future actions will be? May takot naman ako sa Diyos at may konsensiya na sinusunod. Siguro naman they should give me that leeway, enough leeway to prove to all and sundry that I’m not politically biased. Because more than any political consideration now, there is a higher interest of the country to think of. I always feel very strongly that decisions of the Supreme Court have far-reaching implications for the country and for future generations. I’m aware of that.
Being a person who is very conscious of history, I will not do anything that history will condemn me for. And my guide will strictly be God’s law and my conscience. To the political opposition, rest assured, I will always do what is right and I will not be swayed by any alleged political loyalties. Dahil naniniwala ako sa pananagutan ng bawat tao.
Ayokong dumating ang panahon na ako’y may pagbabayaran o at my deathbed, binabagabag ako ng konsensiya ko because I did not do what is right and I went against my conscience. I did something, something unfair or inequitable to a person.
I’ve tried to shield them (family) from this. I don’t want them to be put in a spot na lalapit yung mga kaibigan nila sa kanila, hindi nila mapagbigyan. Actually, that’s the only reason. Nakita mo naman, angelic face ang mga anak ko. They’re wholesome kids.
We got married early. Kaya parang friends lang kami. 24 when he had first kid. When I was in law school, ako lang yata ang may anak sa klase. So siya ang mascot. Every Saturday, pupunta sila, maaga ang dismissal, kasama ng wife ko susunduin ako, kasama ang yaya, ang cute cute ng baby ko, pinagkakaguluhan. She will become a mother herself.