It is an understatement to simply say that March 21, 2012 was a bad day for Attorney Eulalio Diaz, administrator of the Philippine Land Registration Administration (LRA).
If I were in his shoes, I would say it is the worst day of my entire life.
March 21, 2012 will go down in the history of the Philippine Senate as the day when the bald Diaz was thoroughly dressed down, humiliated and insulted by at least six senators who took him to task for submitting inaccurate documents that were presented as evidence in the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato C. Corona.
The trial was telecast live nationwide, and this made the total drubbing of the LRA administrator more embarrassing. Some self-respecting people subjected to such kind of nationwide humiliation might even think of committing suicide or hara-kiri in a bid to salvage a little bit of their honor.
In the case of Diaz, he should at least resign not only for his own sake but also for the sake of President Noynoy Aquino who had appointed him to his position. I could imagine that even the President was humiliated by inference.
March 21, 2012 was Day 33 of the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Corona. Diaz was presented by the defense panel as its witness although in the early stages of the trial, he was also presented as a prosecution witness.
He testified on the alleged 45 real estate properties of Corona which, the prosecution panel said, were not included in the Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) of the Supreme Court head.
What infuriated the senator-judges was that upon questioning of the witness by the defense lawyers and the senators themselves, it was found out that Diaz’s list of 45 properties is grossly inaccurate because even titles to properties not registered under the names of Corona and his wife Cristina were on the list.
As a result of the grilling, it turned out that the Corona couple and their children own 21 properties, not 45 as earlier claimed.
The verbal flogging of Diaz started when Senator-Judge Miriam Defensor-Santiago, in her usually imperious style, lashed at the LRA official for submitting the inaccurate list. She accused Diaz of gross negligence in the performance of his duty, saying he can be penalized for negligence under the Civil Service Code. She said that she is not impressed by the way Diaz did his work as a lawyer even if he is a law graduate of the Ateneo de Manila University. (Diaz is a batch mate of President Aquino at Ateneo).
The other senators who took turns in lambasting Diaz were Bongbong Marcos, Loren Legarda, Pia Cayetano, Jinggoy Estrada and Ralph Recto. Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, who is the presiding judge, also castigated the witness although he did it in a subtle way.
Questioning Diaz, Marcos noted that the way the LRA official generated the list of properties through the computer was erroneous as shown by the fact that not all the properties on the list were registered under the names of the Coronas. He pointed out that despite Diaz’s knowledge that system used to produce the list was flawed, he did not inform the prosecution panel of the possible errors. Marcos likewise noted the cavalier attitude of the witness towards the lousy job he had done.
Diaz absorbed more criticisms when Senator Legarda stood up to point out conflicting statements in his testimony.
Senator Pia Cayetano asked Diaz if he is aware of the effects of his erroneous list on the mind of the impeachment court as well as that of the public. She said that with the list, he made it appear that the Coronas own a lot of properties, telling him that he should acknowledge his fault.
Senator Estrada, waving a cancelled land title that was included in the list, also scolded Diaz, asking if he is in cahoots with some members of the prosecution panel to make it appear that the Chief Justice owns many properties. Diaz, who appeared to be squirming in his seat, denied the accusation.
Senate President Enrile faulted Diaz for not conducting a nationwide search of the properties of the Coronas, noting that the search was done only in the National Capital Region.
After some two hours of relentless drubbing, Diaz was discharged from the witness stand, and his embarrassment finally ended.
We suspect that the following night, Diaz might have nightmares – that is if he was able to sleep at all.