It ‘s been more than 5 months since I predicted in January that Chief Justice Renato Corona would resign before the end of the impeachment proceedings. That was in my 2012 opening salvo article, “What’s In Store for 2012.”
Well, admittedly, I was wrong. He never resigned and even made a suicidal testimony that sealed his fate at the end.
It was a melodrama far more interesting and worth watching than a telenovela.
There’s an investment lesson in the fate of CJ Corona in all this just-concluded impeachment episode.
This investment lesson has nothing to do with his supposed frugality and investment savvy which, as CJ Corona confessed in his testimony, made him accumulate big deposits.
Nor does this investment lesson refer to his diligently saving money in dollars purportedly since the late 1960’s (a claim disputed as a lie by Congressman Rodolfo Farinas).
This investment lesson is a two-part rule for successful trading which says: “Let your profits run and cut your losses short.”
Well, the Chief Justice actually followed the first part (letting profits run); in fact, he actually overdid it. But he terribly blew the second part (cutting losses short).
The Chief Justice indeed had his profits run.
It was an unprecedented run – from Assistant Executive Secretary for Legal Affairs in 1992 to Chief of Staff of Vice-President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA), to Presidential Legal Counsel, to Supreme Court Justice and then to Chief Justice in 2010.
Indeed he leveraged his relationship with GMA to the hilt, having himself appointed SC Justice and, finally embracing a midnight appointment as Chief Justice.
I originally thought he would stop at being Supreme Court Justice. This was his ultimate goal in life, as he personally confided to me sometime back in 1983 when he was Assistant Vice President (AVP) of a commercial bank in Manila.
Well, as a backgrounder, I was then working as a credit analyst cum paralegal assistant at the bank and was, for a time, a stand-in company for lunch and merienda for both my boss (another lawyer AVP) and AVP Corona (who was a very close friend of my boss).
When then AVP Corona confided to me his avowed goal of becoming a Supreme Court justice, it looked nothing but plain wistful thinking.
That was Martial Law period of the dictator President Ferdinand Marcos and the Supreme Court at that time, practically looked like an exclusive domain of UP Law graduates. Only the late Justice Claudio Teehankee who was an Ateneo Law graduate like Corona, was the odd man out in Marcos Supreme Court.
From what I could see from expressions of his face then, it was nothing less than that of a driven man, the kind who would stop at nothing to attain his goal in life.
And surprisingly, he indeed eventually became a Supreme Court justice in 2002, a little less than 20 years since I heard an impassioned goal straight from the horse mouth. Reminds me of the oft-repeated Napoleon Hill adage that the heat of a man’s desire would burn all barriers away.
No, he not only just became a Supreme Court justice, he eventually became a Chief Justice, the highest magistrate of the land.
The opportunity to become Chief Justice was handed to him in silver platter by his long-time boss, the outgoing President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
Forget that it was midnight time, forget about delicadeza, and forget about the controversy that the appointment engendered. That was an opportunity of a lifetime.
By grabbing the Chief Justice mantle when it was offered to him, he indeed let his profits run riot.
The problem however, was that when the Chief Justice garb he wore proved too hot and too ill-fitting, and he was impeached blitzkrieg fashion, he defiantly declared he will fight it out.
When the tide turned against him, he unwittingly defied the second rule of the dictum which is to “cut losses short.” He simply stubbornly refused to cut losses even when the gods seemed to be against him.
As a friend, I wished that CJ Corona had resigned and thereby cut his losses. He would have preserved his gains and would not have had himself suffer the horrendous losses and untold sufferings he endured.
He would not have blown the Statement of Assets Liabilities and Networth (SALN) issue to stratosphere and exposed frightful skeletons in his closet: the Basa-Guidote sordid episode, the condominiums and other properties, the peso deposits and more importantly the dollar deposits which drove the last nail in his guilty coffin.
“Let profits run but cut losses short.”
This has been a seminal lesson from great traders and investors as per the findings of Van K. Tharp, PhD, research and investment psychologist and guru who was prominently interviewed by author Jack D. Schwager in the bestselling “Market Wizards: Interviews with Top Traders” (New York: New York Institute Finance, 1989).
According to Dr. Van K Tharp, most people find difficulty taking small losses.
“As a result, small losses turn into moderate losses which are even harder to take. Finally, the moderate losses turn into big losses which you are forced to take – all because it was so hard to take a small loss.”
In the case of CJ Corona, the loss of the midnight Chief Justice garb would have been a small loss compared to the removal from office plus “perpetual disqualification” meted on him in the guilty verdict.
But that was the least of it. The loss from resignation would have been nothing compared to the 5 months of humiliation and worst nightmare he endured.