For Friday/ December 16, 2011
Good Morning Philippines
ON SECOND THOUGHT
The Lower House, in lightning speed, impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona early this week upon orders of President Aquino, unprecedented in the Philippines for a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Most of the signatories to the Articles of Impeachment were allegedly not allowed to read the complaint and simply followed what was asked of them by PNoy, and signed away without bothering to peruse the documents. This is not surprising considering the last administration had the same iron grip hold over the lower house. What is surprising, or maybe not, is PNoy (chief engineer of “daang matuwid”) is now doing what he criticized in GMA regarding the use or abuse of Congress as a personal tool in legitimizing whatever the President wants done, brazenly or otherwise. True, there is nothing illegal in the way the impeachment was carried out but as far as Congress is concerned, the elected Representatives did themselves and their institution another disservice in their obsequiousness and blind obedience, but we won’t count on that giving them sleepless nights. In fact, the most discomfort they probably felt from their shameless action was their pot-bellies grumbled in hunger due to the five hours it took to formalize the impeachment, scandalously haste by any standards.
PNoy, a non-lawyer, has accused the Chief Justice of being a stumbling block in his crusade against corruption as can supposedly be gleaned from the decisions of the Supreme Court that prevent him from “nailing” GMA, an obsession of his since taking power. The President claims the people are “behind him” in his assault on the High Court Justices, most of whom are GMA appointees. By cleverly lumping Corona and GMA in one bag, the people are probably, indeed, supportive of him but more so against GMA, still the “kiss of death,” rather than against Corona who is not all that well known, to the masses at least.
To claim to know why a Justice of the Supreme Court decides on a case the way he does is to attribute to oneself supernatural powers – how else? Of course, it is natural for anyone appointed to the stratospheric position of Justice of the Supreme Court of the land to be grateful to the appointing power, that much even a grade-schooler would know. But to what degree and manner this gratitude will play out during the term of a Supreme Court Justice will, firstly, not be uniform between all of them; and, secondly, it cannot be presumed by anyone to result in making biased decisions to favor the appointing power. It is just as easy to make conclusions about the actions taken by the President and say that his reason for ravaging the Supreme Court is in retaliation to the Supreme Court decision, with finality, ordering PNoy’s family to distribute their land in Hacienda Luisita, a 6,000 hectare property the President grew up in and the symbol of their family’s wealth and power. One could even add that it would also serve to put fear in the Justices so they will know to concur with his family on the price the government “must” pay them as “just compensation” for their land when the time comes to determine that. Of course, that is just as presumptuous, if not preposterous, as claiming to know the motives of the Justices. But what’s good for the goose should be good for the gander and it’s not difficult to imagine why losing one’s ancestral land is a pretty compelling reason to be very pissed at who caused it and that the only remaining recourse for that situation is to ensure that the “just compensation” is to the liking of the owners. The actual amount could literally be anywhere from zero to P5B Pesos. The latter amount, if you divide that among, say, 30 grandchildren, comes out to about One Hundred Sixty Six Million Pesos each or $4M (each!!) – no P-Nuts for anyone that could be watching the impeachment trial from the Senate’s plenary hall gallery.