A no win situation PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 20 January 2012 14:37

By REMEDIOS F. MARMOLEÑO

Like many Filipinos,  the majority I suppose, who are keeping track of the impeachment now going on, I have only the most basic knowledge of the process.  Dim recollection of lessons from high school and college of Philippine government structure and such, we have some ideas of the three branches of government, separation of powers and  impeachment as the judicial  means for removing an official from his position. These  are all stipulated in our constitution.

Not knowing much more than the very basic elements of this important constitutional process I read the papers and listen to the commentaries on TV. I wish though there were someone I know who I could ask questions from and who knows much more than I about the whole thing.

I understand that one of the articles of impeachment is that Mr. Corona’s appointment from the very outset was in violation of law, the appointment having made just a few days before the end of Gloria Arroyo’s term as president. The law stipulates that no appointment should be made two months prior to the start of an election. This alone elicits a lot of questions for someone like me. Here are some.

Did then Pres. Arroyo know at the time that this appointment she made of Mr. Corona as Chief Justice was contrary to law? Did not her own advisers and her own husband who is a lawyer know this?  And did not Mr. Corona who was already an associate justice then know this?  If all these lawyers did not know this, what else do they not know about the law? I tremble at the thought of the implications of this.

If Mr. Corona did not know  what Philippine  law says about the timing of appointments vis-à-vis elections, he is no legal scholar in spite of his doctorate in law. If he knew what the law says and in spite of it he accepted the appointment, he is not an ethical man. I would have expected him to tell Pres.  Arroyo “ Thank you, Madam President, for the honor but the law does not allow you to do this.” Mr. Corona is a tall man but he would have stood taller,  ten feet tall perhaps,  in the nation’s eyes.

Having said all this, another question that comes up for me is this:  Why did not the Aquino administration raise the matter of the appointment as soon as it came into power?  The impeachment question would have focused on the legality of Mr. Corona’s appointment rather than on questions about his bias towards Mrs. Arroyo interests ( the TRO, etc.)  or the value of the properties  attributed to him and which are  way beyond his personal capacity to have bought on honestly earned money. Somehow these other issues lower the impact  on our people of the importance of preserving the mandate of law. The case of Mr. Corona has been reduced to the never-ending cases of thieving government officials, if he should be impeached on this article.

If Mr. Corona is impeached, how would this affect the ordinary Filipino’s respect for the members of the judiciary?  If he is found innocent, what would be the people’s reaction to the process of justice in the Philippines. It seems to me that this is going to be a no win situation.