Friday, January 27, 2012

Unseating the Chief Justice: The Grand Coronation

At the outset of the so- called trial of the century after former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada’s impeachment in 2000, I can almost hear Michael Buffer’s trademarked catchphrase “Let’s get ready to rumble.....!” announcing the ‘President Noynoy Aquino versus Chief Justice Renato Corona’ match at the Senate of the Philippines impeachment court that has disappointed more Filipinos in the recent months.

Yes, the commotion between the two highest leaders in the judiciary and the executive branches in the country is a pandemonium that grimly affects the Filipino people. Simply put, it shouldn’t be like that. Both bodies should respect each other and subsist to achieve the ends of equity and justice and the general welfare every Filipino.

It’s distressing, however, that two of the highest leaders of the country today have forgotten their Constitutional mandate, that is, to serve the public more than their vested personal interests. Yet, it is evident from the recent actions between the judiciary and the executive branches of their immaturity and neglect to the true needs of the people, more so, of breaching the so called ‘public trust.’

For the first time in Philippine history, the leaders of the Executive and Judicial branches of the government had come to the open, firing their accusations to each other with dismay and arrogance. The President accused of bullying the Chief Justice, while the latter accused the former of disrespect and lack of civility.

Since Aquino was sworn to office in June 2010, he vowed to ‘cleanse’ the government by ‘removing from public office and hold liable those who have transgressed the law.’ His first move was the creation of the Truth Commission which was tasked to investigate the alleged corruption and cheating scandals that hounded the nine-year Arroyo administration. Aquino eyed former SC Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. to lead the commission.
SCRA. The MMSU College of Law where the author takes his Llb/Juris Doctor is equipped with facilities such as the law library where it houses annotated Supreme Court Reports.

Thus, in another blow to President Noynoy’s administration, the Supreme Court headed by Corona has declared unconstitutional the much trumpeted Truth Commission. Voting 10-5, the Supreme Court ruling effectively barred the prosecution of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and other officials and parties involved in alleged scandals under the previous administration.

The majority, among others, held that EO 1 (Executive Order 1) which attempted to create the Truth Commission violated the equal protection clause of the Constitution in as much as it singles out for investigation the reports of graft and corruption in the previous administration.

Then on, the cold war between the executive and legislative branches of the government fired up. For the first time a President boldly expressed his overly dismay against the judicial branch of the government while the latter stood with its decisions without any word of reprisal against the highest leader of the land.

In retaliation, the Chief Executive of the country publicly humiliated the chief magistrate of the highest tribunal, who was just an inch away from him on the occasion of a very important summit and in front of many morally and intellectually upright folks. The act was appalling. Majority of whom who were present in that particular occasion were members of the Bar. Beyond imagination, the speech delivered by President Aquino was no less than a slap in the face of the officers and members of the court, more so to the Chief Justice who seemed to have been subdued by what he just heard.

Arrogant, disrespectful, lack of civility, pathetic, megalomaniac, political dog—these were the words used to describe each other that Aquino and Corona blatantly expressed in their word wars which was published, viewed and heard in local and international media. Virtually, the Malacanang Palace portrayed the Supreme Court’s Chief Justice as a protector of the villains in the past administration.

Diverse reactions from the masses surfaced. Mostly were in disgust over the two warring heads. To some, there was actually nothing new—our dear Philippines have been lost for many decades due to precarious political situations.

Some said that the Aquino administration is disrespectful to the highest tribunal and has encroached into the independence of the judiciary. On one hand, the Supreme Court has kept its silence until Corona broke his voice a day before the impeachment trial and bravely announced that the President’s reason for putting him in the hot tub is plainly to vindicate his personal qualms.

Whatever the reason or reasons are, the on- going impeachment trial in the Senate is another sabotage in the political and economic sectors of the country. Time and again, the oligarchs in the three branches of the government have become the source of unsound situation that has put more Filipinos disgruntled with the breed of leaders this country has.

To many, the prosecution of Chief Justice Corona is an indication that the democratic system in this country is evident. However, it cannot also be concealed that the same system is thwarted and garnished by corrupt, ill- mannered, and feeble- minded public officials who have become the transgressors of law in the front line.

On a personal opinion, the three branches of the government, as an underlying principle, are mandated to serve and protect the interest and the general welfare of the masses. This principle is well entrenched in the Constitution—the fundamental law of this country. Yet, such duty is impaired due to political interests and gluttony of power which has left this country behind the shadows of its neighbouring Asian nations.

While it is true that compared to other countries, democracy so to speak, in the Philippines is well recognized, there is an urgent need for a major facelift and work out the details of our democratic system—to direct growth and shape our future all in conformity with the traditions and culture of our race. 

Consequently, the Philippine problem on politics and the so- called ‘democracy’ should be discussed in the light of true and real statesmanship—in a plane far above narrow, petty arguing regarding bribery, bossism, demagoguery, feuds, scandals—for these exists everywhere even in the most enlightened nations. After all, this country needs more reconstruction to re-establish its marred name, the Pearl of the Orient.

The political annals of this country have been blemished in countless times and patent with the notion that whenever a new political leader assumes power, the first move is to eliminate personalities that were appointed by previous administration. Vindication, avenge, conviction, cleansing, towards the right path? Whatever you call it, it does not make sense.

In other countries like the superpower United States, republicans and democrats, despite of their varying policies and political beliefs, they forge a harmonious working relationship for their citizens. So that at the end of the day, the general welfare of their people, justice and equity, and stable economy is delivered.

Our dear Philippines on the other hand, is also best served by our leaders- the other way around. Political coalitions simply stand ground on their crooked principles and remain adversaries until they end up instituting court action to get rid of their political foes from public office. They call that democracy. I simply call it ‘democrazy.’

One thing is clear though— democracy has been abused as an insensible arsenal of the political crooks of this country in order to bend the rule of Law.

Whatever the outcome of the impeachment trial, the personal interests of the two highest leaders would still benefit the most. Whether or not Corona will be exonerated and the State will be justified with its accusations, everything stays the same except that the results of the trial will form part as a newly established jurisprudence which will become as a condition precedent later on to another impeachment trial of an unwanted public official.

On the move is the grand ‘Coronation’. I wonder when do we draw closer to a great evolution?