[ Note : Most of us Pinoy migrants, being laymen, are not only far from the current constitutional controversy physically, we’re also unaware of the dynamics of legality and authority between the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of our government. I’ve had a special opportunity to hear a very personal perspective on the issue, from a university classmate who’s had a chance to know one of the principal actors in the controversy close-up. I believe her Facebook post, written (and reblogged here with her permission) while waiting for her daughter’s party to wind up, speaks for itself. Thanks for reading ! ]
The sad part about this (Supreme Court Chief Justice Rene Corona‘s) impeachment is it is polarizing the legal community. Graduates of the UP (University of the Philippines) College of Law are divided; so are the members of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines; and I’m sure, the Ateneo Law School for that matter.
Though I worked for Rene Corona for five years when he was still the Deputy Executive Secretary for Legal Affairs, I will not say his appointment as Chief Justice did not disturb me. From the very start, it was my opinion that he should not have accepted the appointment. I would have declined it, had I been in his position; in the same way that I declined an invitation of my former boss to serve as the Director in the new Disciplinary Office that replaced the Presidential Anti-Graft Commission, because I knew that there was a more senior lawyer than me who should be offered the position first.
For me, Justice Corona‘s fault was in accepting the position. His ambition really got the better of him. But that is not an impeachable offense. Not to mention that the Supreme Court has already upheld the legality of his appointment. Next they will say that is because the other Justices are mostly (former President Gloria) Arroyo appointees. So, are the decisions of the Supreme Court now void simply because most of the Justices are Arroyo appointees? Since the answer is obviously no, he now has this impeachment case filed against him, as a last ditch effort.
I can debunk all the eight charges against him if need be; but what’s the use? (Italics mine.) The House came up with 188 votes and those who voted for the impeachment didn’t have any idea at all what the grounds for impeaching him were. In the Senate all they need is 16 votes. I know better than to believe that those senators will vote based on their appreciation of the charges and the evidence.
Justice Corona is a good and decent man. I have known him for 18 years. Though I don’t know if the Corona I knew during the Ramos Administration is still the same Corona post SC appointment, neither does anyone else. What I am saying is, that he has sold his soul to GMA (former President Gloria Macapagal – Arroyo) is pure conjecture or speculation, that can never be proven in any trial.
His detractors claim that hitting him is not tantamount to hitting the Supreme Court, and that attacking the two should not be confused with each other. I say then that they are right. Corona is not the Supreme Court, so don’t blame him for decisions of the entire Court, which were arrived at by 15 Justices, and not by Corona alone. The congressmen say that they will also impeach the other justices who have voted consistently in favor of GMA.
Where will that bring us then, if not to a regime where the Executive Branch has made sure that the Supreme Court will only vote as is pleasing and favorable to the Executive Branch. (National media personality) Ted Failon so disappointed me this past week as he did nothing but bash Corona with statements that were so inconsistent, one could easily see that he did not really know if he got his facts right.
To wit: LAHAT po, HALOS LAHAT po ng caso ni GMA ay bumoto siya pabor kay GMA. HALOS LAHAT po; LAHAT po; LAHAT PO, HALOS LAHAT po, pabor kay GMA LAHAT ng boto niya. I am not kidding nor exaggerating, he repeated it at least three times, the flip-flopping between lahat and halos lahat. There is a hell of a difference between the two.
That Corona’s wife was appointed by GMA is not among the impeachable offenses either. As already pointed out, there are so many members of the same families holding positions in the government. Not to mention former Chief Justice (Reynato) Puno whose wife was Clerk of Court of the Supreme Court. Neither is the fact that complaints were filed against his wife for one charge or another, an impeachable offense. He cannot be implicated by mere affinity. That is absurd.
Even Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, who just got elected to the International Criminal Court, admitted that her husband was corrupt but made it clear that she is in no way to be connected to his actions. With respect to the Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth, I don’t think Corona can claim that he has been filing it if he in fact has not. It would be so easy to verify that. In the second place, all the Justices, since time immemorial, were exempted from making public their SALN. Not that I agree with it; I don’t. But this issue against the Judiciary has been around since time immemorial, so if Corona will be charged for this, let all the others be charged too.
In the five years that he was my boss, Corona never once tried to sway me to draft our decision in favor of any party. He was the only boss who praised work which was excellently written, unlike the others whose only concern was for us to finish deciding as many cases as possible; no matter if the decisions were so lousily written that sometimes the appellees’ names were interchanged with the appellants’, or there were two dispositive portions (or the paragraph/s where the actual judgment is rendered).
Anyway, this issue is putting a strain on everything and everyone. In their desire to be in the good graces of the President, people resort to Corona-bashing every instance they get. Take our Christmas Mass in the Palace, for instance, to our surprise, the priest included Corona in his sermon, by calling him Corona ng tinik (crown of thorns) ; and as if that wasn’t enough, before he gave his final blessing at the end of the mass, gave an additional sermon, starting off with how a statement of one priest should not be interpreted as coming from the Church; and, in the same light, a Justice’s statements should not be interpreted as the entire Supreme Court’s either; and how much he prayed that Corona will resign. My gosh! And I thought there was a Separation of Church and State Doctrine, and that using the pulpit for political purposes went out with Padre Damaso.
I’m sorry that this became such a long essay; the truth is I’m waiting for my daughter’s party to end and had nothing to do to kill the time. It’s actually almost 6:00 in the morning but their party hasn’t ended yet. I can still hear voices of people singing.
In the same way that I don’t know how to make the party outside end, I don’t have any idea how to end this piece. The whole country has such high hopes for the President. I voted for him and was so happy that he won. It was like finding light at the end of the tunnel. I would like to give the President the benefit of the doubt; that his intentions are pure, and that it is only because he is not a lawyer that he has the wrong appreciation and interpretation of how things should be done.
I choose to lift everything up to the Lord. He has never forsaken us and has always helped us through everything. When (Ferdinand) Marcos cheated Cory (Aquino) in the elections, He helped us drive Marcos out. When the senators refused to impeach ERAP (Estrada), He again helped us to drive Erap out. When we realized that we weren’t actually in a better boat with GMA, He helped Noynoy to win in the elections. When it was obvious that (Ombudsman) Merci Gutierrez was going to be an obstacle to the daang matuwid (or path of righteousness), He helped Noynoy to get her out of the Ombudsman’s Office.
In the same manner, I also believe that He will be here for us again this time. If Corona is innocent, He will help him get enough senators on his side. But if what the President believes is true; and that Corona would have devoted his entire stint in the Supreme Court to protecting GMA, then he will either give up the fight and resign, or be impeached by the senators.
This is actually contrary to the earlier view I wrote above, when I said that I know better than to believe that the senators will vote based on their appreciation of the charges and the evidence presented, but because I believe that there is a God, I won’t lose hope that people will do what is right.
All we have to do is pray.
Atty Diane Reyes
Thanks for reading !
- PNoy vs. Corona: A PDI columnist’s perspective (politika2013.wordpress.com)
- Impeached judge warns of Philippine ‘dictatorship’ (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Erap’s Logic (rojan88.wordpress.com)
- ANALYSIS: Philippines under Constitutional Crisis Aquino Refuses (rqjavines.wordpress.com)