All-Out War Against Corona

“War is a brutal and ugly enterprise. Yet it remains central to human history and social change. These two facts together might seem paradoxical and inexplicable, or they might reveal deeply disturbing facets of the human character (notably, a drive for dominance over others). What is certainly true, in any event, is that war and its threat continue to be forces in our lives.”

In the pursuit of justice, we need to wage an all-out war against the perpetrators of the criminal acts.

Recent events graphically demonstrate this proposition: think of the impeachment and eventual resignation of former Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, the arrest of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the Impeachment complaint against Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona, the arrest of former Comelec Chairman Benjamin Abalos, the arrest warrant for retired Major General Jovito Palparan Jr., and other ongoing events more appropriately should be called “the war on the former Arroyo administration”.

The past years under the governance of the Arroyo aministration had been savagely scarred with intriguing and controversial political warfare, thus we all have high hopes and expectations going into the year 2012.

The Impeachables

Some has said that on orders of Aquino, 188 members of the House of Representatives, which has the exclusive power to initiate impeachment cases, have impeached Corona without reading the Articles of Impeachment, and without a committee hearing or a floor debate.

They are saying that the House of Representatives committed grave abuse of discretion when it acted in an “arbitrary or despotic manner” in approving the impeachment case against Corona.

They say that the impeachment proceedings were “railroaded” and “unconstitutional.” Others agree to these statements, while others don’t.

However, there are also others who are saying that the impeachment of Corona is more of a “crisis of the presidency.”

Some are saying that after analyzing the events leading to the impeachment that Aquino was in effect a corruptor of congressmen, thus making him also impeachable.

At first Malacañang tried to deny its involvement. But a Malacañang ally quickly disabused the public by saying the impeachment complaint was drafted at the Palace.

In making the congressmen sign an unread document in exchange for certain tangible gifts, did Aquino unduly risked his political reputation for being previously incorrupt? Do critics see him now as the first corruptor of Congress?

In their view, he has made himself impeachable in the very act of impeaching the Chief Justice.

These are strong words, but nothing more than words.

Having full control of the House, Aquino is in no danger of ever getting impeached, whatever wrong he does.

 

Voluntary and Of Free Will

“There were 188 people who signed the complaint, including the best minds in the House. We never resorted to arm-twisting and “bribery” in obtaining signatures for Corona’s impeachment. Nobody ever talked about PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund). We did not use the PDAF to “blackmail” those who did not want to support Corona’s impeachment.” says House speaker Sonny Belmonte.

He said he made it clear to his colleagues during  the majority caucus that signing the impeachment complaint against Corona was voluntary on everyone’s part.

“Nobody was misled. I don’t believe anybody was misled. In fact, I made it very plain from the very beginning that if any member does not want to sign, it’s okay with me. We will continue to be friends and allies,” Belmonte said.

“The complaint was outlined in front of everybody. There were copies of the complaint available (to members). It was fully explained to them with the aid of visuals,” he added.

He pointed out that the impeachment charges were explained to those who attended the caucus and that no one could claim he signed the complaint without reading or understanding it.

He later revealed that although Aquino had a hand in the act, he merely initiated and everyone who attended were given the free will to either support or not support the impeachment. In fact, some of those they expected to go with them did not sign the complaint.

Representatives who will serve as prosecutors in the impeachment trial also told the high court to lay off the Impeachment case, saying it would be “incestuous” for it to decide on a case involving one of its own.

The Supreme Court should not decide for the Senate. It would be incestuous for the Supreme Court to decide on the validity of the complaint against their Chief Justice. The SC should not interfere and allow the Senate to decide.

No To Sacred Cow

In a manifesto, the former Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) presidents said they cannot fault Aquino for criticizing the decisions of the court, including the actuations of Corona especially if the latter “no longer serves the best interest of the nation.”

“As Chief Justice, Corona should be the first to strengthen the SC as an institution. He discharges this burden well when he shows judicial statesmanship and independence but abandons such duty when, by official actions he shows marked subservience to the person who appointed him Chief Justice. For the Supreme Court will be a credible court of last resort only if it is a court of moral force.”

The signatories to the manifesto were Raoul Angangco (National President from 1995-1997), Jose Aguila Grapilon (1997-1999), Arthur Lim (1999-2001), Teofilo Pilando (2001-2003) , and former Solicitor-General Jose Anselmo Cadiz (2003-2006).

They said that by impeaching Corona, the Lower House exercised its constitutional prerogative to initiate impeachment and placed the country on notice that the elected representatives of the people are holding the CJ accountable for his action.”

They said Corona should be at the forefront of strengthening the Supreme Court as an institution.

“No one in the public service is a sacred cow. Everyone in government, including high officials removable only by impeachment is ultimately answerable to the sovereign people from whom all governmental authority emanates,” they added.

The IBP, through president Roan Libarios, earlier lambasted the proceedings done by the lawmakers in filing the impeachment complaint against Corona. Some are supposedly seeking to boot out Libarios as IBP head because of such stance.

 

Make Him Accountable

Bantay Gloria Network and other militant groups rallied in front of the Supreme Court calling for the resignation of Corona.

The protesters led by former Akbayan party-list representative Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel said Corona’s removal from the SC is necessary to restore integrity to the high tribunal.

“The Chief Justice should now resign to spare the high court from further embarrassment. Chief Justice Corona was asked by the people, at the very least, to inhibit from the cases involving GMA. But because Corona has already decided to serve Mrs. Arroyo in the most obsequious manner instead of upholding justice, the people have no choice but to make him accountable as well,” she said.

“The people are calling for Corona’s removal from the Supreme Court. We have waited for Corona to prove his independence, to no avail. He has consistently toed the line and gave in to every whim of Arroyo. He should be removed to allow the Supreme Court to reclaim its integrity and independence,” Hontiveros-Baraquel said.

Hontiveros-Baraquel also chided Corona for his “partisan attack” on the moves by the House of Representatives to impeach him.

The Original Sin

Another pro-administration group that rallied behind Corona’s impeachment is the Black and White Movement.

Leah Navarro, the movement’s spokesperson, said the Supreme Court has destabilized itself the moment the Chief Justice accepted his “midnight” appointment in the dying days of the Arroyo administration.

“The minute Corona became a midnight chief justice, the Supreme Court’s independence was already undermined. That was the original sin, a transgression that spawned this crisis,” she said.

“As such, the impeachment complaint against Corona is not an institutional attack on the Supreme Court. Rather, this is an attack on Arroyo’s legacy of impunity,” Navarro said.

Removal or Resignation

Malacañang chose not to play coy any further, declaring that the resignation of Chief Justice Renato Corona would be most welcome since the purpose of impeachment was to remove him from office anyway.

“The whole idea of the impeachment, the goal of impeachment is removal, and in the same manner that we welcomed the resignation of the former Ombudsman (Merceditas) Gutierrez… since the goal of the impeachment is removal, and if he (Corona) should decide to voluntarily resign on his own, certainly that is something that we will welcome,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said.

“We cannot define what will happen in the future but we are, insofar as the House impeachment team is concerned, they are prepared to prosecute the case against the Chief Justice. As to what the reaction will be of the Chief Justice, we leave it to him although he has mentioned that he will fight to the end,” Lacierda said.

Aquino’s Shortlist

President Benigno Aquino III said that he wants to be ready in case the Chief Justice is removed.

Aquino has already given instructions to his legal advisers to come up with a shortlist in case embattled Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona is removed from office.

“Wala pa tayo doon,” he said. “But we, I did remind my legal advisers kung saka-sakaling mangyari yang sitwasyon na yan, give me the shortlist already of people that we can consider for that position.”

When asked if he wants Associate Justice Antonio Carpio as Corona’s replacement, Aquino said, “There’s no shortlist yet. Pero I can assure everybody that the criteria na, di ba parang sunud-sunuran sa lahat ng gusto mo, is not ano, is not an operative thing.”

Aquino also said that he is open to choosing a new Chief Justice from outside of the present Supreme Court en banc.

Final Note:

They say that impeachment is nothing but a political process, to be decided on the basis of public opinion, not on the basis of the evidence.

If that were the case, then the Senate should have no role in it.The case should be put to the people in a referendum, which should tell us what the ‘public opinion’ is, so long as everyone participates and the process is not rigged.

The sovereign people assert their sovereignty in two distinct processes.

The first is through their vote in a plebiscite ratifying or amending the Constitution. Through this process, the people express in a permanent manner what the powers of government should be, what the limitations are and what the extent and limits of their power are.

The second is through the people’s vote in an election. This vote is not an unlimited grant of power. Nor is it a grant of power to navigate outside of the limits of the will of the sovereign people as expressed in the Constitution.

But that is not what the Constitution says. Impeachment is a constitutional process. The Senate tries and decides all impeachment cases, on the basis of the evidence, not on the basis of party line or personal sentiment of the “judges.”

In getting Corona’s impeachment through the House in less than a day, the President just gave us a rousing demonstration of his brand of political brawn, never mind if it is sovereign enough or not.

We will see if the Senate’s legal erudition can stand up to the President’s political steamroller.

In the end, it seems that all the “warfare” that is happening is precisely, and ultimately, about governance. We are witnessing the crude way of determining who gets to say what goes on in our country: who gets power, who gets wealth and resources, whose ideals prevail, who is a member and who is not, which laws get made, what gets taught in schools, how much tax is levied, and so on.

We are seeing the “ultimate” means for deciding issues when the traditional process or resolution can’t be agreed upon.

It is actually a quest for the continuation of policy by “brutal” means.

Surely, as a description, this conception is both powerful and plausible: using “brutal” means to resolve policy (which organizes life in a land).

Would I dare say that it is an act intended to compel our opponent to fulfil our will?

The controversial social effects raise troubling moral questions for any thoughtful person. Is it wrong? Could there be situations when it can be a justified, or even a smart, thing to do? Has it always been a part of humanity, or can we do something to make it disappear? Is it an outcome of unchangeable human nature or, rather, of changeable social practice? Is there a fair and sensible way to wage war, or is it all hopeless, “barbaric slaughter”? When this ends, how should “reconstruction” proceed, and who should be in charge? What are our rights, and responsibilities, when our own society makes the move to go to war?

So many questions, Yet reality continues to bombard us with more of these similar questions as we get very few confusing answers.

Quotes:

“I grew up with an older brother and a very contentious twin sister and I believe I could easily best you in any physical confrontation, be it noogies, swirlies or the classic “why are you hitting yourself?” “- Sheldon Cooper

“Men love war because it allows them to look serious. It is the one thing that stops women from laughing at them.”

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: All-Out War Against Corona « Troll Alert ! | Pnoy Talks
  2. Arsenio Reyes
    Dec 29, 2011 @ 17:57:00

    Dear Sir,

    The impeachment trial would more or less start in the Ides of January, You write so well that maybe you can summarize the events in the book by John F Kennedy entitled Profiles in Courage (1955 Pulitzer Prize winner). It describes acts of bravery and integrity of 8 US Senators who crossed party lines, defied public opinion and did what they felt was right.

    The list are as follows :

    John Quincy Adams, a Senator (1803–1808) (later President and Representative) from Massachusetts, for breaking away from the Federalist Party.

    Daniel Webster, also from Massachusetts, for speaking in favor of the Compromise of 1850.

    Thomas Hart Benton, from Missouri, for staying in the Democratic Party despite his opposition to the extension of slavery in the territories.

    Sam Houston, from Texas, for speaking against the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854.

    Sam Houston was also profiled for opposing Texas’ secession from the Union, for which he was deposed from the office of Governor.

    Edmund G. Ross, from Kansas, for voting for acquittal in the Andrew Johnson impeachment trial. As a result of Ross’s vote, along with those of six other Republicans, Democrat Johnson’s presidency was saved, and the stature of the office was preserved.

    Lucius Lamar, from Mississippi, for eulogizing Charles Sumner on the Senate Floor and other efforts to mend ties between the North and South during Reconstruction, and for his principled opposition to the Bland-Allison Act to permit free coinage of silver.

    George Norris, from Nebraska, for opposing Joseph Gurney Cannon’s autocratic power as Speaker of the House, for speaking out against arming U.S. merchant ships during the United States’ neutral period in World War I, and for supporting the Presidential Campaign of Democrat Al Smith.

    Robert A. Taft, from Ohio, for criticizing the Nuremberg Trials for trying Nazi war criminals under ex post facto laws. Counter-criticism against Taft’s statements was vital to his failure to secure the Republican nomination for President in 1948.

    Reply

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