Why Not An Aquino Supreme Court?

by Jose Ma. Montelibano

If it was alright to have a Gloria Arroyo Supreme Court, it should be much better to have an Noynoy Aquino Supreme Court.”

This would be my response to the rhetorical question asked by the spokesman of the Supreme Court if we wanted an Aquino Supreme Court. His question apparently was premised on a speculation that the majority members of the Supreme Court, except one appointed by P-Noy, could possibly be impeached. Why would it not be good to have a new composition in the Supreme Court? After all, what Supreme Court in recent memory had more questionable behavior and decisions than the present one? It had its own version of midnight appointments when it could not wait for Noynoy Aquino to take his oath as President of the Republic and then appoint his choice of Chief Justice. By that act alone, the majority members of the Supreme Court chose a path that it must now swallow. It also reached a shameful low, morally and in legal jurisprudence, when it re-defined the meaning of plagiarism, directly benefiting one of their own who was caught and accused of he wrongdoing.

It was the spokesman of the Supreme Court who used the reference “Aquino Supreme Court” in what obviously was a comparison to a Supreme Court referred by many as the Arroyo Supreme Court. Let us dissect the backdrop of his statement, especially the difference between the present Supreme Court versus one where the majority would be appointed by P-Noy.

Obviously, the main difference would be less in the quality of the appointee and more in the quality of the appointing power, the quality of Gloria Arroyo and the quality of Noynoy Aquino. Why would the quality of the appointing power be of crucial difference to the quality of their appointed?

Let us put ourselves in the shoes of Gloria Arroyo as we, the people know her. If you and I were Gloria Arroyo, what would be most important to us? As we knew Gloria Arroyo over all her years as an official of DOTC, specifically head of GTEB, then senator, vice-president, and the infamous Hello Garci, “I am sorry” president, what would we want in the years ahead of us when we am not president anymore? If we had a husband by the name of Mike Arroyo, what kind of Supreme Court would we want to be out there after a controversial and scandal-filled nine-year presidency?

When Gloria Arroyo was president, what noble legacy was she trying to build, or extend? As the product of Edsa Dos, she was quick to downplay the very revolution that installed her as president. And there seemed to be no proud reference of a 2004 presidential election that allowed her to serve another six years. There was, of course, much criticism about a swearing in by the Chief Justice in January of 2001 – simply because a revolution was sadly translated as a legal procedure. A story which sounded like a fairy take to many had to be created so that there was legal basis for an Estrada resignation. The fact remains that Estrada was ousted by a popular revolt by the people and which key military officers supported – even before Gen. Angelo Reyes defected, or the cause why Reyes recapitulated.

A presidency which begins with a lie, or which dishonored the courage and effort of a people who risked all to bring down a sitting president, created a path that was strewn with lies. All the way to the end, truth suffered in ways unimaginable in a democracy. Even certain bishops were suspected to be in Gloria’s pocket, beneficiaries of government funds for their pet projects. The death of Jaime Cardinal Sin saw the exit of clear and resolute positions by the Church and gave birth, instead, to a Church hierarchy alternating between conflicting or no positions at all.

Of course, a general’s wife and children were caught bringing huge sums of money into the United States and opened a can of worms about plunder in the military. It was a rather large can, opened in 2004 and still not yet completely emptied by March 2011. After a scandal that began before 2004 and went on, according to whistle-blower Col. Rabusa, to two more Chiefs of Staff after Gen. Reyes, the administration of Gloria Arroyo made its deep mark as host to a most dirty leadership – in and beyond the military.

Now, with the quality of a president like Gloria Arroyo, what could we expect in the choices she would have made for government officials who would still be around after her presidency? Did she show consistent signs that her choices of key officers were based on their integrity or their propensity to follow her wishes even if such would compromise their integrity? Does the popular belief that Gloria Arroyo needed a supportive Supreme Court to shield her, and members of her family, from future suits have any basis beyond reasonable doubt?

In contrast, does Noynoy Aquino have a clear legacy to protect and even enhance? Does his father’s martyrdom, does his mother’s heroism, loom large in his life, in his presidency, in his relationship with the Filipino people? Whatever his shortcomings, or whatever successes he will achieve, will these remain independent of, or rooted in, a legacy of father, mother and son to the fate and history of the Filipino people? When it comes to freedom and democracy, will Noynoy as P-Noy not take special care to be fair, honest and brave?

In the institution called the Supreme Court, why will P-Noy not insist on the truth to come out, even in an imperfect executive order? Why will P-Noy not push for truth missions instead since the Supreme Court shot down his proposal to establish the Truth Commission? The challenge is not for P-Noy to appoint the majority members of the Supreme Court; rather, it is for the Supreme Court to strive for heroic achievements in justice which has been the grand loser under the Arroyo administration. And, most of all, the challenge is for P-Noy to stoke in the hearts and resolve of the people to build an environment where truth becomes a primordial demand.

“There is always a philosophy for lack of courage” — Albert Camus

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