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The CJ and the Rule of Law

The CJ and the Rule of Law
Ronald Roy – Mar. 2012
The impeachment senator-judges, prosecutors and defenders buckled down anew last week after a 12-day recess. The hiatus was hardly the respite they needed from the nerve-frazzling impeachment proceedings, as the embattled respondent Chief Justice Renato C. Corona went on to wage a two-day media blitz on his own.
He did this not only to proclaim the truth about himself but, beyond that, to “fight for the country and the judiciary… (because) if I give in and the executive takes control of the judiciary and our countrymen need help, there will be no court to run to, (and) they will go to the streets.”
But the entire yellow mob consisting of Lower House flunkies, Cabinet fawners, Palace toadies and street sycophants—like the Dalmatians (the Black and White Movement)—will have none of this. For them, the Chief Justice’s trial by publicity is their exclusive prerogative, and his defense by the same means is at their sufferance.
If this does not send a chill down the spine of the justice system, I do not know what will. We all heed the time-honored dictum that “it is better to acquit ten guilty men than to convict one innocent man”, but the mobsters urge us to crucify CJ Corona because, according to them, ‘from his face alone you can tell he is guilty.”
Nobody could have done it better than Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, who lambasted the Chief Justice for acting like a politician in launching a two-day media blitz to defend his character.
For De Lima, it was “conduct unbecoming” of the country’s top magistrate to have done so. In effect, however, she was saying that when P-Noy publicly led the yellow mob in demonizing CJ Corona for three months, his conduct was becoming of the highest official of the land.
De Lima is unable to subscribe to the principle that “what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander”, nor to the moral injunction that “the pot should not call the kettle black.” It’s worrisome. Perhaps the title of Justice Secretary is an oxymoron for her.
Fritz (Cordero), I don’t see why the respondent CJ should be deprived of his right to take the witness stand only when he deems it imperative. Who are we to interfere in his choice of the manner for defending himself? The risks are his, no one else’s.
If Neil Tupas announced that the prosecution would rise or fall on Articles 2, 3 and 7; why cannot CJ Corona announce he is willing to rise or fall if he opts not to testify? Why are the prosecutors dying to get a chance to cross-examine him? I thought they already “had the goods on him” when they rested their case.
Trixie (dela Cuesta), I don’t find it right to justify CJ Corona’s public condemnation because, as you put it, “it is the people anyway who sit in judgment of impeachment respondents”.
On the contrary, the sovereign people explicitly say under Article XI, Sec. 3, Par. 6 of the 1987 Constitution that:
“the Senate shall have the sole power to try and decide all cases of impeachment. ”
At the same time, what you advocate violates the due process clause of the organic law.
Texter # 8118, any lawyer is free to choose his clients. He may even choose to defend someone who has been tagged as “public enemy number one.” And his best effort to represent a pauper litigant, however guilty as hell, would be most admirable.
I once wrote a strong article defending the Ampatuans’ right to counsel, and praising the Fortun brothers for doing their utmost to protect the defendants’ constitutional and human rights. It’s understandable that I received some flak from non-lawyers.
#8105, I would find it cruel for the prosecution to drag into the impeachment trial a 90-year-old nun to serve as its witness. No doubt, the good Sister Flory Basa will be expected to tell the truth not only under oath, but more importantly under the strictures of her religious vow.
This is not to say, however, that her entire testimony would be material and relevant, let alone accurate, considering the internecine nature of clashing family interests, resolution of which would more appropriately belong outside the impeachment court.
I cannot accept, #5473, that GMA is a “mere footnote in history”, as you put it. GMA remains as a real evil still lurking around. She is, lest we forget, the cause of the ongoing impeachment case.
However, P-Noy should disabuse himself of the unfounded fear that the removal of the Chief Justice from office is a sine qua non to the success of his anti-corruption campaign. He should learn to rely on his own strength as a leader, and on the awesome resources of his office.
Yes, Brett (Gaylord), the Karl Roy who regaled you as a Filipino rock icon of close to two decades back was my nephew who just passed away. Avant-garde and unique in their respective fields, he and Judd were the best of first cousins. Like Judd, Karl was energetic, creative and, well, simply a cut above his contemporaries.
I wish to thank Rita (Gadi) for her effusive admiration for Atty. Jose M. Roy III as a “great communicator.” Some years back, I had a brief stint as a columnist for the Manila Chronicle for which Rita, herself a great communicator, was the editor-in-chief.
Rita will be pleased to learn that my son is a consummate educator of the law, apart from being an outstanding polemicist in the intricate labyrinth of jurisprudence. He has always disdained the self-seeking hypocrisies so characteristic of Philippine politics—a trait which understandably merited the senator-judges’ ire, and for which he was fortunate to have received a mere reprimand.
However, a harsher penalty would still have led him to say—if I know the straight-laced lawyer—“No regrets. I defended in the most honorable way my two clients: the Chief Justice and the Rule of Law” Feedback: https://musingsbyroy.wordpress.com | 09186449517

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