Attacking Impeachment Court’s GUILTY verdict is insanity
The Philippines will never come to a point where no Filipino will disturb peace or start a nonsensical debate on settled issues. Just last Tuesday (June 5, 2012), news had it that a petition was brought to the Supreme Court to question the impeachment verdict against now private citizen Renato Coronadal Corona. That will be so for as long as there are politicians, and yes, non-politicians, too, who want to find a way to making their names glitter one day soon, at least for a brief period of time, and even for insanity’s sake. Well, of course, in other countries – even in the United States of America and Great Britain, and especially in still unpopular countries, this weird happen-stance also comes about, often in unexpected moments and for unexpected reasons.
The Supreme Court, under the leadership of acting chief justice Antonio Carpio, should immediately dismiss that petition. On legal grounds, the petition has no basis and hence out-of-order. On the opinion side, it’s a mere braggart’s foolery. The crafters of the petition are cajoling the associate justices to culpably violate the 1987 Philippine Constitution.
As QN has been pointing out, and as eventually heard repeatedly from quondam impeachment presiding judge senator Juan Ponce Enrile, the senate impeachment court, as constitutionally enshrined, is the highest powerful and authoritative body, to the exclusion of all others – the supreme court also excluded! – that is mandated to rule, decide and hand down a verdict of guilty or not guilty, and to rule and decided on impeachment complaints brought to it by the house of representatives. As such, its rulings, decisions, judgements, and verdict are untouchable by all institutions. No one, not even the entire judiciary in this country and outside, can overrule the impeachment body. For by its very nature, an impeachment court is the only court that can try impeachment cases and all matters related to such cases once the impeachment court assumes authority over an impeachment complaint.
The hopeless petition attacking the verdict and the impeachment proceeding itself does not deserve to be entertained even for a minute. Should the present set-up of the supreme court give it its day, then it’s time all authorities in the supreme court should remove themselves from position, power and authority. For it will be attacking the 1987 Philippine Constitution itself which is the Filipinos’ first, fundamental, and highest law – one crafted and adopted by the Filipinos and not by the judiciary or any branch of government. It will be an attack for which the supreme court will never find from the Constitution itself a support to its own arguments, not even a single provision that will enable it to mount that attack. Its attack will mean that the justices behind the supreme court are proclaiming that they are higher than the country’s one and only supreme law. But, QN strongly believes, Carpio and all the other associate justices are not insane, for they also know that being a mere interpreter of the law, the judiciary can only interpret but not enforce, because enforcement belongs to the executive branch of government, as the Constitution itself mandates. That was why, Enrile told his tv audience in an interview by ANC: “I will say this very frankly and I hope they (SC justices) understand and if they will question the jurisdiction of the impeachment court and reverse our decision, we will defy them. Who will enforce their order?”
Here’s the explanation of the GUILTY verdict of senator-judge Sergio Osmeña III last May 29, 2012, as appearing in the Official Gazette:
“Mr. President, esteemed colleagues, honorable members of the House of Representatives, distinguished members of both the prosecution and the defense panels, my countrymen.
“In arriving at our decision today, we narrowed our concerns into four:
1. Did Chief Justice Renato Corona violate the Constitution?
2. Did he do it knowingly and willingly?
3. Was the violation of such gravity as to warrant his impeachment?
4. Has Justice Corona betrayed the public trust?
“Ironically, the answers to the first two questions were supplied by the defendant himself when Justice Corona admitted that he did not disclose in his yearly Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN) over PI80 million in cash and near-cash assets.
“While not in consonance with the SALN law, Justice Corona gave as his excuse the FCDU law. Yet, nowhere in that FCDU law is the depositor not allowed to disclose his own deposits. All the FCDU law prohibits is the depository banks and third parties from disclosing the account and the amount of deposits.
“Searching for the answer to the third question took a little longer. Is the violation of the SALN law of such gravity as to merit impeachment?
“ surprisingly, the answers were again supplied by Justice Corona and the High Court.
“Numerous decisions on cases involving SALN law violations have been handed down by the Supreme Court. Among others: Rabe v. Flores; Concerned Taxpayer v. Doblada; Carabeo v. Court of Appeals; Office of the Court Administrator v. Usman; Flores v. Montemayor and several others.
“In Rabe v. Flores, for example, the Supreme Court ruled that a simple, humble court interpreter in Davao del Norte in Mindanao had to be dismissed from service because she had failed to disclose in her Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth that she rented a market stall in the Panabo market. The High Court further ruled that Ms. Flores was perpetually disqualified from holding office.
“I went a bit further and posed a hypothetical question to myself. If the Court had been supplied with a bank passbook belonging to Ms. Flores which showed a deposit of $10,000 which had not been reported in her SALN, would the Court’s ruling have been the same? Dismissal and perpetual disqualification from office?
“My plain, ordinary, legally untrained but reasonable mind tells me “yes” the Supreme Court would have ruled similarly.
“If these public officers had been dismissed from office for failing to declare far less remarkable, far less valuable assets in their SALNs, despite and regardless of their excuses, then there is more reason to apply the law when the assets in question amount to over PI 80 million.
“We should not penalize the poor man for stealing a bicycle but rule that the rich man must first steal a Mercedes before he is subjected to a similar penalty.
“My fourth and last question was: Did Justice Corona betray the public trust?
“Again, ironically, the answer was supplied by Justice Corona and the Supreme Court.
“For contained in the New Code of Judicial Conduct for the Philippine Judiciary under Canon 2 which covers integrity are two sections:
1. Judges shall ensure that not only is their conduct above reproach but that it is perceived to be so in the view of a reasonable observer.
2. The behavior and conduct of judges must reaffirm the people’s faith in the integrity of the Judiciary. Justice must not merely be done, but must also be seen to be done.
“Mr. President, we all must face the Ms. Floreses of our country, whether in Mindanao, the Visayas, or Luzon. We must be able to tell them that justice is, to the best of our ability, being applied equally to the rich and to the poor, to the powerful and to the powerless.
“The Senate Impeachment Court must restore the people’s faith in the judicial system. The Senate must bring about a higher level of moral standards in governance.
“I therefore find for the people, guilty on Article II.”
“This stage of conception, judgement and inference is the more important stage in the entire process of knowing a thing; it is the stage of rational knowledge. The real task of knowing is, through perception, to arrive at thought, to arrive step by step at the comprehension of the internal contradictions of objective things, of their laws and of the internal relations between one process and another, that is, to arrive at logical knowledge.” – Mao Tse Tung
By: Chito Dela Torre
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