“I, (the Senator Judges), do solemnly swear, that in all things appertaining to the trial of the impeachment of Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato C. Corona, now pending; I will do impartial justice in accordance to the Constitution and the laws of the Philippines, so help me God.”
Yet, how often do we hear the Senators debate over how they are to treat the proceedings and whether this is a constitutional or political undertaking and what exactly is the definition of “political.” Senator Trillanes has stated in a speech he made at the University of the Philippines that he would decide on the case based on “public acceptability.” Where in the oath did it mention “public acceptability?” Senator Honassan said almost the same thing, “public pulse,” which is likewise not to be found in the oath. We’re wondering whether any of the Senators actually took to heart the oath they had taken because if you had seen them (it can be viewed on You Tube) swear to it, you would think they would die first before breaking that solemn oath. And when you hear them admonish a witness by reminding them in a threatening tone that they are under oath, you might tend to believe they breathe the oath they had taken. But then again, you could imagine many things, if you considered what politicians say with matching pious expressions, only to see them do the opposite at the drop of a hat, which makes you drop back to earth and reality instantaneously. So much for oaths and oafs.
There are two realities competing in the impeachment trial: one is what is occurring in the impeachment court; and the other is what’s happening outside of it and that includes traditional as well as digital media. In the former, based on the reaction of the judges and presiding officer in particular, and our own appreciation of the proceedings, the prosecution panel seems way outclassed by the defense team. In the print and broadcast media, it’s clear that for the most part, it has submitted to, if not conspired with, the scheme of the Palace which is to demolish Corona and run him out of the Supreme Court. Some of the bigger media outfits do this unabashedly without caring to show even a semblance of fair reportage. In the internet where there is no monopoly of the news, the story is surprisingly different. If one were to make “the rounds” of various web sites and blog pages where there are a lot of “comments” from the readers or viewers (if there’s a video clip), the pro-conviction sentiment is about equal the pro-acquittal and at times you may even find more pro-acquittal. There’s also a lot more talk on the issue of the real reason behind PNoy’s obsession in removing Corona, and the most mentioned are the decisions made and to be made on the Hacienda Luisita (HL) case pending in the Supreme Court, and that’s only regarding the distribution of the land and not mentioning the “Hacienda Luisita Massacre” yet; whereas, in the newspapers and broadcast channels, mention of HL seems to be treated as taboo.
There is plenty of chatter, and not a few coming from insiders of the “yellow brigade,” that the goal of forcing the resignation of the Chief Justice remains the same if not more urgent. This could also be seen in the way the prosecutors have shown no let-up in their continued appearances on TV showing “proof of guilt” that the court has already ruled as inadmissible. It is debatable whether the prosecution panel is more focused on winning a conviction inside the courtroom or in the public’s mind with the hope that mob rule will ultimately decide the outcome of where Corona is to be found at the end of it all.
There’s a third reality, however, that the majority of Filipinos are sure of, and that is: their lives have seen no improvement in the last year and a half and they don’t see it happening because of what would result in this trial that they feel should not be government priority. What was expected to be daily entertainment to many is now turning out to be a source of irritation turning to anger seeing how far divorced the focus of our leaders are to the real problems they face daily, beginning with difficulties of putting enough food on their tables. That reality goes deeper than mere curiosity about the truth regarding the impeachment trial, or even the passion associated with blind partisanship. Hunger and the absence of basic services is visceral and sometimes a matter of life or death as in the case of the 11 deaths daily caused by the lack of health services for pregnant women as the RH Bill points out. It is obvious that the Palace and Congress have placed more time and energy in the impeachment of one man over what are supposed to be “priority bills.” The “mob rule” is a double-edged knife that does not have the neutrality and coldness of laws and the Constitution and can change direction overnight and boomerang to those that incite it. Beware.