pop goes the world: vox senatus, vox populi

POP GOES THE WORLD  By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today,  31 May 2012, Thursday

Vox Senatus, Vox Populi

May 29 was a historic day for the country, when twenty senators to three voted to impeach Chief Justice Renato Corona after 44 days of trial.

iPhone 4S photo of screen showing live telecast of Senate impeachment proceedings, with tally of votes of senator-judges.

It had played out as a telenovela, with drama on both sides of the dispute grabbing the attention of the nation like no other broadcast production. Reality, after all, is always stranger and more interesting than fiction.

Over the course of the trial, the prosecution was derided for presenting a weak case, the defense for having no better rejoinder than finding loopholes to wiggle through. Fingers were pointed, blame denied and placed, innocence and good faith invoked.

In the end, most of the senators found that Corona’s failure to declare huge cash assets in his statement of assets and liabilities was unacceptable from a man whose position demands adherence to the highest standards of integrity.

Palusot, Congressman Rodolfo Fariñas described Corona’s three-hour explanation, nothing more than an attempt to glibly explain away behavior that violated the spirit of the law and degraded the position of the highest magistrate in the land. It is expected of a decent and honorable man that he own up for his failings. Corona’s whiny diatribe contributed to his diminishment in the eyes of many watching, including the impeachment court.

Concealment of assets is a practice of many who do not wish to pay high taxes or have their other sources of income found out as they may be in violation of the law or ethics, or for some other reason. Corona is not the only one doing this. This is what he implied when he dared the 188 congressmen and Senator Franklin Drilon to sign a waiver to permit their assets to be bared. After his own prevarication having been found out, we would have respected Corona more if he had admitted his mistake.

Looking back, he and his family would not have been subjected to the anguish and humiliation of this ordeal if he had resigned quietly early on and spared the country this scene and the P6 million it cost the national coffers for the impeachment trial.

This is the downfall of the arrogant, of those who thought that money and power would allow them to behave with impunity and disrespect to the Senate and the Filipino people. Corona’s storming out of the Senate Hall saying rudely “The Chief Justice wishes to be excused” is how he will be remembered from now on.

This country needs true leaders, people who are humble, honest, and sincere in a desire to serve in a leadership capacity and not lead in order to serve themselves and their agenda.

The 23 senators acquitted themselves honorably as a court. Whether they voted for pogi points, on their conscience, or on their principles and conviction, still they took a stand, and that after all was their duty to us, the Filipino people.

The senators’ personal conduct during the trial reflected upon themselves and not the court as a whole. From Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s histrionics, Lito Lapid’s simple speech in Tagalog, and Manuel Villar’s sulky outpouring of his past presidential campaign woes to Juan Ponce Enrile’s clear and erudite summation, all the senators’ speeches expose to us their characters and give us the basis for future decisions on whether to vote for them to continue serving in public office or not.

The trial itself is over. We learned and accomplished much. Now we can move on to the next important thing. Our lawmakers have shown that they can make significant decisions in the face of controversy, a sign of political maturation. Perhaps the Filipino people can now look forward to even more genuine social reforms that will show our country has respect for human rights and adheres to the highest values and principles of humanism.

Let the text of the judgment provide closure (caps and paragraph breaks theirs): “The Senate, sitting as an Impeachment Court, having tried Renato C. Corona, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, upon Three Articles of Impeachment charged against him by the House of Representatives, by a guilty vote of 20 Senators, representing at least two-thirds of all the Members of the SENATE, has found him guilty of the charge under Article II of the said Articles of Impeachment: Now, therefore, be it

“ADJUDGED. That Renato C. Corona be, and is hereby, CONVICTED of the charge against him in Article II of the Articles of Impeachment.

“WHEREFORE, in accordance with Article XI, Section 3 (7) of the Constitution, the penalty of removal from office and disqualification to hold any office under the Republic of the Philippines is hereby imposed upon respondent Chief Justice Renato C. Corona.

“SO ORDERED. 29 May 2012. Sgd, JUAN PONCE ENRILE, President of the Senate.” ***

Judgement of the Senate of the Republic of the Philippines in the impeachment case of Renato C. Corona. Image here. 

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