For most people, Ilocos Norte Representative Rudy Fariñas came into our consciousness when he circulated a Betamax video of actress Vivian Velez and him — where they stripped into their birthday clothes, among other things they did on and off camera. Last Monday, Rudy Fariñas outdid himself by stripping now convicted Chief Justice Renato C. Corona in front of a national television audience.
Now popularly called the Palusot (excuse) Rudy Fariñas Prosecution closing argument for convicting CJ Corona, he spoke mostly in Filipino and in a language that registered well with Juan dela Cruz. He managed to give Juan dela Cruz the complex issues of the impeachment trial in easy to digest bite sizes. The closing argument of Fariñas had all the hallmarks of effective mass communications. It was crafted according to the appreciation level of Juan dela Cruz.
He compared what Corona declared as assets in his SALN (Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth) and did not declare. In his SALN, 98 percent or P180 million of his cash assets were not declared by Corona. Only P3.5 million of his cash assets were declared. That led to a conclusion of an attempt to conceal assets. He exposed inaccuracies in Corona’s claim to having traded in dollars. He showed how ridiculous Corona’s claim was of having borrowed money from his wife’s firm — why pay interest when you have the cash.
Earlier projected as an odd-man-out in the Prosecution panel, Fariñas turned out to be the saving grace for the disappointing closing argument made earlier by Lead Prosecutor Niel Tupas. Fariñas gave you the impression that he meant to talk to Juan dela Cruz. Tupas gave you the impression that he just loves to hear the sound of his squeaky voice.
The media tracking of last Monday’s closing arguments clearly reflected the celebrity that Rudy Fariñas had gained. Farinas logged an 87.77 percent approval by those who followed the penultimate day of the impeachment trial. Only 12.23 percent disapproved what he asserted. In contrast, Niel Tupas logged a disapproval rating of 80.53 percent versus a shameful 19.47 percent approval rating.
Considering that the prosecution enjoys majority of public support, this is a clear demonstration of the lack of quality of Niel Tupas. On verbal communications, he does not create empathy — sounding more like an entry in a declamation contest. He’s no better in non-verbal because his small, lean frame tends to reinforce the impression that he is of substandard quality.
So impressive was the impact of the closing argument of Rudy Fariñas that Defense lawyer Dennis Manalo did not track online because Fariñas reactions were still swamping the Internet. Manalo had the bad luck of speaking after Fariñas. Manalo may have also failed to make a positive impression because he too — like Tupas — appeared like an entry to a high school declamation contest and the fact that he was espousing the unpopular view.
Defense lawyer Ed de los Angeles had a 73.68 percent disapproval rating while chalking a 26.32 percent approval rating. Lead Defense lawyer, former Supreme Court Associate Justice Serafin Cuevas enjoyed an approval rating of 74.18 percent versus a disapproval rating of 25.82 percent, which was impressive considering that he was espousing an unpopular cause. As of 5 p.m. last Monday, overall tracking was 84.47 percent against CJ Corona compared to 15.53 percent in favor.
It must be clarified that the tracking was culled from Internet traffic. Easily 40 percent of Filipinos, especially those from the socio-economic class E, are not participants. However, seeing how Fariñas delivered his closing argument — it’s safe to say that he would have done better with the class E because they can hardly appreciate the legalese of the Defense panel. Fariñas would have communicated to the class E while Messrs. Cuevas, de los Angeles and Manalo delivered messages that flew over their heads.
The May 22 and May 25 trial appearances of CJ Corona were mainly directed towards the national audience — to earn public support. Corona’s language and emotional expressions were meant to reverse adverse public opinion, which weighs heavily among senator-judges whether they would admit it or not. He was doing very well until he laid down conditions to his waiver and walked out. After that, the case for acquitting Corona was irretrievably lost.
In our May 10 column, your Chair foresaw that senator-judges Frank Drilon, Alan Peter Cayetano, Pia Cayetano, Serge Osmena, TG Guingona, Kiko Pangilinan, Ed Angara, Ping Lacson, Lito Lapid, Antonio Trillanes IV, Ralph Recto, Jinggoy Estrada, Chiz Escudero, Koko Pimentel, Tito Sotto, Gringo Honasan and Juan Ponce-Enrile would vote for conviction but didn’t discount that Senators Manny Villar and Loren Legarda could too. My forecast was off by one — the guilty vote of Senator-Judge Bong Revilla. The Senate rose to the occasion and did us proud.
It’s not a time to celebrate but a time to unite and move our country forward. My Ateneo classmate Rene Corona is very much in my prayers. We may be divided by a national issue but we have more things that unite us — AMDG, diabetes, chronic kidneys, spinal stenosis, to name a few.
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