The Chief Justice of the Republic of the Philippines was impeached by the Senate last Tuesday in an unprecedented 20-3 vote. GMA News gives a comprehensive overview here.
Former Chief Justice Renato Corona was perceived to be allied with the former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and therefore in conflict with current President Benigno Aquino III. So how tricky to have a trial of Executive vs. Judiciary, as presided over by the Legislative branch, and where everybody in an ideally fair trial could be seen as partisan.
I wasn't able to follow this trial at all except for the final day itself, where each senator gave his vote and an explanation thereof. I was impressed and enlightened in particular by Senators Drilon, Escudero, Lapid, Legarda, Osmena, and of course the presiding officer, Senate President Enrile. More memorable moments here.
The main reason for Mr. Corona's impeachment was non-disclosure of properties in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth. The fascinating thing is, the prosecution won despite itself. They lacked evidence and they were ill prepared. Many senators simply pointed out the facts: a "lowly" court employee dismissed from government service for the same act although on a much smaller scale, and a simple pie chart showing the amount of Mr. Corona's undeclared assets compared to those he did declare. Other senators were convinced to convict, ironically, because of the witnesses of the defense: Ombudsman Carpio-Morales and Mr. Corona himself.
The trial was smoothly concluded but questions lingered about the lack of due process. In my humble opinion, the technicalities of the law were overruled but justice and truth prevailed. Our country has already gone through two peaceful "extra-constitutional" revolutions in the past quarter century. This could mark the third. I believe we're maturing with each revolution; that we're getting the spirit and the letter of the law.
Also, every now and then I hear my Christian brothers and sisters declare (yes, prophesy) righteousness in this land. President Aquino was elected on a platform of righteousness and reforms are certainly being instituted now. For example, the dispute pitting Aquino's own family versus the farmers who tilled their land is now settled. Moral accountability is now demanded of our public servants.
Of course, there is still much to be desired. Some analysts see a darker future after this trial: quite possible. But a brighter future is equally possible. At the very least, the resolution of this very trial evokes hope in me. That we are already on the road to moral and economic recovery.
Politics and public affairs. (To use our latest tourism slogan:) It's more fun in the Philippines :D
P.S. More lessons from the impeachment trial here.
P.P.S. It might sound like I voted for President Aquino last 2010 but I didn't. I'm just an eternal optimist ;)
P.P.P.S. I'm optimistic but not blind. P-Noy needs to lead the people in righteousness and not just boot the people who aren't. On the same note, I should stop talking about righteousness and get back to my appointed duties (i.e., schoolwork). Toodles!