'Palusot' becomes buzzword in CJ trial

Posted at 05/28/12 10:42 PM

MANILA, Philippines – The word “palusot” became a trending topic in microblogging site Twitter on Monday after Ilocos Norte. Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas used it to describe Chief Justice Renato Corona's defense in his impeachment trial.

Fariñas used the word palusot, which means alibi or false excuse, at least 15 times during his 24-minute summation, which was complemented by a PowerPoint presentation.

ANC analyst, lawyer Adel Tamano, said Fariñas’ use of the word “palusot” was clever because he used the word in 2 senses.

“The first sense is palusot which refers to an obviously false explanation. In other words, nagpapalusot lang siya. But he also referred to it near the end of his closing argument as palusot in terms of makalusot, meaning to be able to get an acquittal,” he told ANC.

“[Fariñas] was tying in these 2 concepts into just one word and it’s a subliminal message to the senators that if you do grant this person an acquittal, you are actually giving life to his palusots. It’s a very clever twist on the different shades of meaning of this term,” he said.

Dean Nilo Divina of the UST College of Civil Law said the word was effectively used in the closing argument because it gave a jolting statement that caught the attention of the public and the senator-judges.

“It encapsulates the [prosecution’s] argument,” he said. He said the word even prompted Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile to tell Fariñas in Ilocano: “You are very good.”

He said that the defense failed to use a similar buzzword to counter the prosecution’s argument. “Something like ‘pinagtulungan’, ‘pinagkaisahan’, ‘pinilit.’ Something that will resonate,” he said.

Twitter users also responded accordingly as the hashtag #palusot started trending globally.

Singer Jim Paredes said the use of the word "palusot" was a brilliant move.

"It puts senators on spot if they acquit. Pinalusot nila. #Palusot," he said in his Twitter account.

Comedian Gabe Mercado also approved of the use of the word to explain the prosecution's argument in layman's terms.

"#Palusot is brilliant as a device the common people can relate to in order to cut through the legalese,” he said.

"Any legal explanation that the defense throws now will be labeled as palusot by the masses. Fariñas poisoned the well very adeptly," he added.

A list of CJ ‘palusots’

In his closing arguments, Fariñas described the following as some of Corona’s “palusots”

- He started saving dollars when the exchange rate was US$1:P2.

Fariñas said Corona was still in grade school when the exchange rate was that low.

“[Corona] wants us to believe that when he was in grade 4 in 1959, he was such a visionary that he already started buying dollars,” he said.

He also noted that Corona never presented the alleged Far East Bank executive who would testify on his multi-million dollar deposits.

- He need not declare his $2.4 million in dollar deposits and P80 million in peso accounts because the dollar accounts were covered by the Foreign Currency Deposit Act while his peso accounts were commingled funds.

Fariñas said the SALN law clearly states that all assets must be declared. “Kahit pera pa sa baul kailangang ideklara,” he said.

He said Corona selectively used the FCDA to hide his dollar deposits especially since the existing bank secrecy act also prevents the disclosure of peso accounts. He said no amount of accounting could justify Corona’s acquisition of $2.4 million.

“Hindsight lang po yan dahil nahuli po,” he said.

He also said Corona’s explanation was inconsistent since he was maintaining a multimillion-dollar account while converting the funds of his daughter, Carla, from dollars to pesos. He also noted that the funds were all in Corona’s name and was not a joint account.

“Minsan yung mga palusot po hindi nagtugma-tugma. We tend to contradict ourselves when we don't tell the truth,” he said.

He added: “I usually give my money to my kids pero ito baligtad. E kung malasin siya, paano pa makukuha yung P80 million nakapangalan sa kaniya? Magbabayad pa ng estate tax. Hindi na mailalabas sa bangko kasi hindi naman totoong comminggled ito e. Palusot lang yun.”

He noted that Corona was concealing 98% of his total cash assets and investments.

- Corona only had 5 properties in his name.

Fariñas said Corona went on a spending spree starting in 2004, buying multimillion-peso condo units that were undeclared in his SALNs.

He said Corona had to declare the condos in 2010 after President Aquino was elected. However, some of the properties were declared years after they were purchased.

He said Corona had to sell some of his assets to his own children because it would again place his multimillion assets under question.

- Corona was paying the P11 million BGEI cash advance to his wife.

Fariñas said he was confused about Corona’s explanation that he was paying the P11 million cash advance from BGEI to his wife when the proceeds from the BGEI property sale were deposited in the chief magistrate’s peso account.

“Why pay for it when it goes back to your account? Nakakahilo po pero yun po ang paliwanag,” he said.

In summary, Fariñas said the senator-judges should not be misled by Corona’s alleged excuses.

“Wag po tyayong magpadala sa mga palusot at ma-dramang pahayag ni CJ Corona,” he concluded.