Jose Ma. Montelibano
From the beginning, it was a matter of character. In the end, it is about character. And Rene Corona affirmed that the character that he has is the one that is capable of destroying a society’s sense of decency, sense of justice, and sense of morality. While he tried to hide behind the legal acrobatics of seasoned lawyers, he must have sensed that he would be hanged after details about his dollar accounts began to surface. He did not take the stand to be transparent; it was the only way to squirt black ink on a truth that was finding its way to the light.
Several have already written about their opinions on the theatrical performance of a Chief Justice out to save his neck even if it meant distorting the truth some more. He had to extol his virtues because no one, except for his Midas who is neither king nor credible, has been brave and articulate enough to do it for him. So the Filipino people had to witness the spectacle of a man with little credibility make a desperate effort to raise his own bench.
In our Constitution, Section 2 of the Declaration of Principles says that the defense of the State is a prime duty of the government, and in the fulfillment of this duty, all citizens may be required to render personal military or civil service.
The controversy now raging in the Scarborough Shoal brings to mind this particular principle contained in our Constitution. The peaceful resolution of an issue is the wish of the Filipino people. We still have to get over the shock of China’s arbitrary claim of territorial control of Scarborough Shoal despite the almost 1,000-mile distance from its nearest shore compared to the 220-mile distance from our Zambales coast, but Filipinos do not want an armed conflict. China is a superpower with a military might second to none; the Philippines is a country struggling to rise above third world status. Why would we want war?
Two weeks ago, I asked through my article if we can rise to be heroes in reference to the Scarborough Shoal issue. With the kind of heated rhetoric that had penetrated the papers, airwaves and cyberspace, it would seem that many Filipinos are willing to risk death for sovereignty. But I did not get the kind of response that was reassuring. In fact, many avoided the question if we can be heroic in our defense of our sense of proprietorship over a shoal. Screaming is cheap if it cannot be backed up by appropriate action. After all, opinion-makers in tri-media are dime a dozen, and the number of commentators in the Internet is countless and largely devoid of influence unless it has solidarity over any issue.
I have always written about the destined presidency of Noynoy Aquino. Because emotions were running high then, I also kept quiet about an equally destined vice-presidency. To many, in fact, the victory of Jojo Binay was nothing short of a miracle. He knows it because he was maybe one of a very few, or the only one, who believed he would win.
Because he has been president for almost two years, and since we have this tendency to forget quickly, P-Noy is already a “normal” president. When we forget, P-Noy will shock us when he pronounces, “No wang-wang,” when he openly criticizes the Supreme Court Justice to his face in a public event. P-Noy, as a destined president within the context of a Ninoy and a Cory, must be capable of jolting Filipinos and the political environment. That is part of his destiny.
Filipinos should be battle-ready. We have enemies who are determined to harm us, steal from us, abuse us, destroy us. We have no choice but to fight back, to defend ourselves, to defeat the enemies, and to establish the way of life that benefits us, our families and nation.
No, I am not talking about fighting the Chinese whom some suspect are intruding into our territory to eventually take the wealth beneath the sea. Because the existence of oil and gas reserves in quantities that are awesome have been confirmed by exploration companies, there is unusual interest in areas where possible mother lodes to this reserves are. The Philippine government and the Filipino people believe that most of these strategic areas are well within our territorial boundaries.
I read a few decades ago a book by Rey IIeto entitled Pasyon at Rebolusyon. It makes good reading for all Filipinos, but maybe a must for all public officials and employees. For that matter, even the hierarchy of the Catholic Church may be wisely guided by the insights of the author. Ileto gave a context of a Filipino angst which may have morphed over the last century but, in essence, may still holds true.
First, to former Associate Justice Serafin Cuevas who said that the impeachment trial is not intended for the Filipino people. I must assume that he just did not have enough time or energy to say that the impeachment trial is intended for the Senate sitting as an impeachment court.
Second, to Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile who said that surveys caused the crucifixion of Jesus Christ who, after so many centuries, is still worshipped.
Third, to Senator Gringo Honasan who said that the senators will not be influenced by surveys by will judge individually and collectively.
I noticed that I had written about the impeachment trial, the Chief Justice and the Judiciary in my last few articles. I know that the topic has been a hot one, but I also know I had wanted to write about other matters closer to my heart but passed them over for the impeachment trial. I think I gave in to a human desire to check on my readers’ responses – which are more if the subject matter is on the impeachment and less when it is about poverty, about hunger
It is jolting to reflect on the corruption of the Judiciary even though it can be everyday man’s assumption that our justice system sucks. The poor have long experienced a different kind of justice for them and a far friendlier one for the rich. That is nothing new and has been a powerful issue used by the rebellion to recruit partisans. But corruption is not about a rich-versus-poor scenario, it is the corrupt for themselves against everybody.
The legal luminaries of the land, led by a former Associate Justice and the Senate President, are highlighted in the impeachment trial of another legal VIP – the Chief Justice. The publicly televised trial has been full of legal arguments, a deluge of legal terms and protocol, as though the Filipino people are being given a lesson on law. The worthiness or unworthiness of Rene Corona to remain being Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is being argued mostly from legal procedure. The Filipino people, then, are being told one thing – the law has primacy over truth, and the legal determines justice.
What happened to right or wrong? What happened to conscience? What happened to the only platform that allows Filipinos guidance over their behavior and interaction in Philippine society? What happened to the truth, the main ingredient in determining what is just or unjust?