Most adult Filipinos last month believed that Chief Justice Renato Corona kept hidden wealth, that he intended to help former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to flee the country and that he accepted special favors in office, a survey by Social Weather Stations (SWS) found.
The survey also found that more than 46 percent believed that people power should be used to force Corona to step down should the Senate impeachment court decide to acquit him.
The opinion poll was conducted on March 10-13, at a time when the defense panel was starting its presentation. The impeachment trial adjourned on March 23 for a Lenten break and will resume on May 7.
A total of 1,200 respondents nationwide were shown cards with statements related to the impeachment trial. They were asked to rate each statement whether they “strongly agree,” “somewhat agree,” “undecided,” “somewhat disagree” or “strongly disagree.”
Defense lawyer Tranquil Salvador III noted that the survey was conducted while the defense panel was just beginning to give its side.
“We started the presentation of evidence only on March 12, so I believe that one day cannot change any perception created by the relentless negative attacks on the person of the Chief Justice,” Salvador said in a text message.
“If you will recall we were able to effectively destroy their theory of ill-gotten wealth only a few days before adjournment on March 22. We were able to show that there was truly no basis in the prosecution’s claim that the Chief Justice owns 45 properties.” he said.
However, Deputy Speaker Lorenzo “Erin” R. Tañada III said the survey results showed the people’s resolve to cleanse the Supreme Court of its supreme error, Corona.
“If Mr. Corona has in him a modicum of honor and self-respect, it would be best for him to bare himself to the public, opening up all his accounts—local and foreign currency, disclose all of his real assets—and then take the witness stand,” said Tañada, a spokesperson of the House prosecution panel.
“That is the ultimate test as to whether or not the impeachment process in the Senate will be acceptable to the people,” he said in a statement.
The survey found that 63 percent of the respondents agreed on the statement, “Chief Justice Corona has hidden wealth based on the undeclared money and assets in his statements of assets, liabilities and net worth.”
Twelve percent disagreed, while 24 percent were undecided.
SWS data showed that majorities (55 percent to 77 percent) in all areas and socioeconomic groups believed the hidden wealth charge against Corona, with the percentage highest in Metro Manila (77 percent) and among the ABC class (69 percent).
To the statement that Corona “intended to help former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her husband to flee the country and elude the charges that she is facing,” 58 percent agreed. Seventeen percent disagreed while 23 percent were undecided.
The majority of the respondents in all areas and socioeconomic classes agreed on the statement. It was 70 percent in Metro Manila and 73 percent in class ABC.
The survey also asked the respondents whether they agreed that Corona “accepted special favors like discounts in the condominium and plane tickets.” Fifty-seven percent agreed, 14 percent disagreed and 28 percent were undecided.
Agreement on this statement was highest in Metro Manila (69 percent) and class ABC (76 percent).
Forty-six percent agreed on the statement, “if the Senate does not convict Chief Justice Corona, then people power should be used to force him to step down.” Twenty-eight percent disagreed while 25 percent were undecided.
Agreement on this statement was highest in Mindanao (56 percent), and class ABC (50 percent). Opinion was mixed in the Visayas: 36 percent agreed, 36 percent disagreed and 27 percent were undecided.
The noncommissioned survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points for national percentages and plus or minus 6 percentage points for regional percentages. Reports from Inquirer Research and Marlon Ramos