I Beg Your Pardon

by Jose Ma. Montelibano

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 beg your pardon.

The impeachment trial is by the will of the people, not by the choice of Serafin Cuevas, not by the choice of Juan Ponce Enrile, and not by the choice of Gringo Honasan. The impeachment trial is not the dictate of a Constitutional provision but the dictate of the people of the Philippines as expressed through a provision of the Constitution. May I remind public servants that they serve the public. They are not Constitutional servants, they are public servants. The Constitution is not crying for the truth and justice, the people are. And the impeachment trial is after the truth and justice more than it is after satisfying provisions of the Constitution. The provisions of the Constitution precisely try to guide legal activities so these end up with the truth and justice – not its own aggrandizement.

It might be that the form of the law, the position of authority and the exercise of power have made those in high places imprisoned by their small but exclusive world, forgetting that these very privileges of status, authority and power emanate only from the people, only from the people. Therefore, as they play their role as public servants, what they are, where they are, and what they do always relate to the people. Their popularity or unpopularity is crucial, not incidental. If what they want to do that is, in their conscience, right but unpopular, then they are obligated as public servants and behavioral models to convince the people of the probity of their views and decisions. They have the obligation to raise the level of understanding of the people if they believe that the people are wrong.

The three comments are dangerous because they come from people who should know better. They also come from people who went against the Constitution and have not even said their unequivocal mea culpas for doing do. Serafin Cuevas swore in Arturo Tolentino as president of the republic. The only reason why he was not thrown in jail was because he was part of a comedy, and comics deserve to be laughed at, not jailed. Enrile and Honasan rebelled. They know it and we know it. If they want to go by the truth, whether it can be proved it or not, then they rebelled when it was against the Constitution to rebel.

The people rebelled as well. But because they were the people and enough of them rebelled, they changed the Constitution. At the very least, they changed the president sitting at that time even though these were installed by the Constitution. Of the many key personalities involved in the impeachment trial, these three have the least right to talk about the Constitution as though the people serve it and not the other way around.

And, by the way, bringing Jesus Christ into the equation is not about democracy where officials like senators serve the people; It is about religion where Jesus loves and people serve Him. Comparing the people now to the mob then, and Corona to Jesus?

I beg beg your pardon.

You are servants to the public or you have no right to be there. You listen to the people or you leave the position that people allowed you to take. “Utak wang-wang” will not disappear right away, the officials as boss and the people as followers still remain the dominant tradition, and you stand out as the glaring examples who cannot even begin to give true public servant-hood a chance. P-Noy is challenging the “utak wang-wang” attitude and has committed to regard the people as his boss. That is why he is sensitive to public opinion and tries so hard to make people appreciate what he is trying to do for them, for country. Yes, he does get feedback from different sources, from Congress, from governors and mayors, from NGOs and civil society. And guess how he validates the feedback he gets from these various sources – from reputable survey companies with consistent accurate track records.

Yes, go by your conscience, senator judges, but let your conscience relate to the conscience of the people you serve, or are sworn to serve. Your conscience cannot be separate from the people’s, just as your morals and your ethics cannot be apart from them. It may be that your conscience will be more fine than the people’s. That is understandable, even laudable. But when such is the case, let the fineness of your conscience cause the enlightenment of the people’s consciences instead of proudly hovering above theirs.

As for Serafin Cuevas, you have alienated the people from better understanding of the law by losing its spirit so your command of its form can be highlighted. This impeachment trial is for Philippine society, for the collective enlightenment of a people, for the refinement of our morals and ethics. It is not arrogance that will teach, it is caring for the whole beyond oneself.

You mean to say that how people think or feel is of no importance to you? Wow.

I beg your pardon.

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