Corona and the guillotine

MANILA, Kingdom of the Philippines – After getting 20 votes of conviction out of 23 senator-judges, former Chief Justice Renato Corona is to be beheaded in public tomorrow for non-declaration of assets and liabilities. Interested parties are requested to gather at the plaza as early as six in the morning to get a better view of the decapitation. Image

If we were to live in the time of Anne Boleyn and the virgin Queen Elizabeth, this is probably the headline that would grace the front pages of the nightly newspapers to be distributed to the public.

Upon reading the story, the clamor of the people to convict the former Chief Justice will turn into celebration for public decapitation of an official during those periods was seen as a happy moment. For once and for all, the people has succeeded in ousting an irresponsible politician.

Only he won’t be tagged as a heretic or a witch.

I got this idea while listening to the wise old (pun intended) senator-judge Juan Ponce Enrile while he was delivering his speech. One scene in the movie The Other Boleyn Girl which told the tragic story of Anne Boleyn, mother of Queen Elizabeth, who was beheaded in public because of treason, caught my imagination.

She too was put before a court during the day of judgment. Her words, her poise as she went in reflected those of Corona. The ending, though grim, was also a resemblance.

Boleyn, played by Natalie Portman, entered the court facing the judges and saying, “This is a sad day for England when the nobles do not rise for their Queen.”

Today is partly a sad day for the Philippines, as well. We have just shown the world how horrible our judiciary is.

“And even sadder when that same Queen is charged with adultery and incest,” said one of the jurors.

“Charged is different to convicted, Uncle. Or is it not? In this court?”

The juror read the charge: “…The Queen, being seduced by the Devil, did knowingly commit adultery, high treason, and offenses against God. How do you plead?”

“Not guilty, my Lord,” said Boleyn, ever-strong. “Judge me my Lord, as you see fit. But never forget that your verdicts will be judged again by God, in the greatest court of all.”

Spot the difference.

The only difference was every judge voted for her conviction. Boleyn was beheaded in public.

According to website, beheading was used in Britain as a punishment for certain types of serious theft. Beheading was confined to those of noble birth who were convicted of treason and was an alternative to the normal punishments for this crime. Several members of the nobility were beheaded such as Charles I, Boleyn, and Mary Queen of Scots.

If Corona were to travel back time and face the similar charges he had during the time of the monarchy, i.e. theft, he would be climbing the guillotine with officials as Alan Rufus, the De Medici Family, Marcus Licinius Crassus,  Nikolai Romanov of Russia, and our very own Marcos couple —  infamous because of illegally amassing great wealth.


Rufus was said to receive some 250,000 acres in land grants as a reward for his allegiance with William the Conqueror during the Norman invasion of Britain. It totalled some £11,000 by the time of his death in 1093, making him the wealthiest British in all the history of the British Isles. His fortune was estimated to be equivalent to US$ 162.74.

The De Medici Family – Renaissance Period

One of the wealthiest noble families in Europe’s history, the De Medici family’s bank expanded allowing the family fortune to grow to 122,669 Florin (an Italian coin) by 1457. One of the family members, Cosimo, had become so great that he acted as de facto ruler of Florence despite holding no elected office.

Marcus Licinius Crassus

He was one proof that political power is not always equivalent to morality. Why? Crassus expanded his wealth by trading in slaves and by purchasing whole neighborhoods of Rome as they burned.

It is believed that Crassus expanded his personal fortune to 170 million sesterces, while Pliny the Elder surmised his fortune to be valued even higher, at 200 million sesterces, estimated to be equivalent to between $200 million to $20 billion.  He has been considered the wealthiest man in history, though this claim has been disputed.

Crassus, along with Julius Caesar and Pompeius Magnus, comprised Rome’s First Triumvirate.

Tsar Nicholas II of

Enough first for looking for the lost daughter and be amazed of his great wealth. Around age 48, his waelth is said to value at up to US $881 million. He is regarded as the wealthiest monarch and head of state in history.

Tsar Nicholas II was the emperor of the Russian Empire from 1894 to 1917.

Ex-president Ferdinand Marcos and Imelda Marcos

Now, we’ve come to the most interesting part. It is not surprising when I say the Marcos couple had accumulated a huge amount of money, isn’t it? What is surprising is the fact that it was Corona himself who penned a court decision that accused the couple accumulated millions of dollars of assets and failed to declare it in their income.

Yes, you heard it right.

In a court decision on July 15, 2003, one of the authors, Corona wrote backing up his conclusion that the couple accumulated assets worth $304,372.43:

“Spouses Ferdinand and Imelda did not declare any income from any deposits and placements which are subject to a 5% withholding tax. The Bureau of Internal Revenue attested that after a diligent search of pertinent records on file with the Records Division, they did not find any records involving the tax transactions of spouses Ferdinand and Imelda in Revenue Region No. 1, Baguio City, Revenue Region No.4A, Manila, Revenue Region No. 4B1, Quezon City and Revenue No. 8, Tacloban, Leyte.  Likewise, the Office of the Revenue Collector of Batac. Further, BIR attested that no records were found on any filing of capital gains tax return involving spouses FM and Imelda covering the years 1960 to 1965.”

Why the sudden turn of events, Corona?

To wrap up the discussion, here are some of the richest heads of government of current time with their net worth:

  • Bhumibol Adulyadej (Thailand) – $30 billion (April 2011)
  • Hassanal Bolkiah (Brunei) – $20 billion (April 2011)
  • Hans-Adam II (Liechtenstein) – $4 billion (April 2011)
  • Mohammed IV (Morroco) – $2.5 billion (April 2011)
  • Albert II (Monaco) – $1 billion (April 2011)
  • Elizabeth II (United Kingdom) – $450 million (April 2011)
  • David Cameron (Prime Minister of UK) – $47.9 million (April 2008)
  • Lee Myung-Bak (South Korea) – $23.6 million (2010)
  • Barack Obama (United States) – $10.1 million (March 2010)
It’s always nice to travel back time. If Corona does, he might just correct his mistakes. After the conviction, the next question is who will be the next Chief Justice. And we hope the history won’t repeat itself.
The Rise and Decline of the Medici Bank: 1397-1494, by Raymond A. de Roover (Google Books)

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