I spent Tuesday sitting on the curb in front of Medical City in Pasig City as the Senate voted to convict impeached Supreme Court Chief Justice Corona for failing to accurately declare his net worth.
True to the reporter as it is to the soldier, it was another case of hurry up, and wait.
The wait soon turned into an informal betting pool, with me as de facto scorekeeper on the acquit-convict tally (I don’t gamble so that made me a disinterested third party, I guess?), as we watched the voting on a TV ripped from one of the hospital’s waiting areas. There was really not much else to do but smoke and talk and sit around.
Now and then, a rumor would ripple through the group: Corona’s son was coming down to give a statement, Corona was resigning before the verdict could be announced, Corona might jump. Said rumors dying a slow death as they failed to actually happen.
By the time there were 14 votes to convict–two short of removing Corona from office–we were trying to get some sort of reaction from his camp. Their advice: Just wait.
By the time Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile voted for conviction, it was all over except for the official verdict. Still nothing except a text from my editor telling me to start writing a story on how eerily quiet the hospital was.
Also, a trip to the hospital restroom that Medical City security blocked because members of the media were supposed to pee across the street at Rockwell Business Center. “Orders from above,” the guards says.
And then, finally, a bustle of activity as more security began coming out to the hospital lobby. Word was Supreme Court spokesman Midas Marquez was going to make an announcement.
An announcement that never happened, it turns out. Instead, a Supreme Court official came out with a sheaf of photocopied press statements haphazardly distributed, and then thrust into bags and pockets when it was found that the same statements had already been e-mailed ahead to our news desks.
The statement, saved in a Word file called ‘Cobra.doc’, was also e-mailed to me by a friend on the Justice beat, who also got a copy in advance (or at least in advance of my getting a copy). My editor was kind enough to let me write the story anyway even though the desk already had a copy of the statement.
All things considered, though, and I did while trudging to the nearest bus stop stinking of sweat and dizzy from deprivation, it was a pretty disappointing end to an emotionally-charged coverage* that began last year with a rushed jeepney ride through Pasay City to catch the team of House prosecutors as they transmitted the Articles of Impeachment against Corona to the Senate. Slightly better than but no less a let-down as being on the wrong side of history is being in the wrong place as it happens.
*To be fair, it was a bigger disappointment to Corona.