There’s something deeply disgusting about the way Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s justices flailed at Justice Secretary Leila de Lima last week. What’s disgusting about it is not that they should sit in judgment over De Lima and put on airs of being lofty and authoritative. What’s disgusting about it is not that they should sit in judgment over De Lima and say things like, “The way you interpret the law shows that you are more powerful than the Court.”
What’s revolting about it is that they should sit in judgment. Over anyone.
What’s wrong with the picture is that Arroyo’s justices should presume to think they might still sit on the dais, gavel in hand, and prescribe God’s justice upon the world. When they have only earned the right, or duty, to wear sackcloths and beat their chests, crying “Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa,” before the people and/or flagellate their bare backs with thongs of crystal shards, dull-edged or not, preferably not, all the way to Christmas. Arroyo’s judges should not be doing any judging, they should be standing on the dock awaiting judgment. They should not be doing law, they should be doing time.
I don’t know that De Lima is more powerful than the Court. I do know that reason is more powerful than the Court. I do know that historical experience is more powerful than the Court. I do know that common sense is more powerful than the Court. Law that is not based on them is not law, it is lokohan. Yet reason and historical experience and common sense are the very things Arroyo’s justices mean to banish from this earth, presuming themselves to be more powerful than them. About time we made them resign.
Renato Corona to begin with.
The point is not just for him to inhibit himself from any case involving Arroyo. It has gone past that. The point is for him to resign from the Court as a matter of duty, or from life as a matter of honor. Though the second is probably out of the question, honor precisely being the one thing he lacks, which is the very reason we should make him resign from the first.
The Chief Justice is the epitome of virtue, or should be, the one person you go to as a last resort, when all else has failed, to right a wrong, to find justice. The Supreme Court is the repository of wisdom, or should be, the one place you go to as a last resort, in the belief that it is a fund of insight and a wellspring of broadmindedness. How find that from the one person Arroyo appointed as a last resort, the one person Arroyo goes to as a last resort when everything else has failed, to wrong a right, to dodge justice? How find that in that one place that has been bought like scrap metal por kilo?
You don’t need to speculate on it. In all the 19 cases against Arroyo brought before the Supreme Court, Corona never once voted against her. That’s right, never once. The score is 19-0. The score is all for Gloria, none for glory. The score is all for one, none for all. That includes not quite incidentally government’s petition revoking Arroyo’s midnight appointees, of which Corona stood first in line. Of course Corona voted against it. He should inhibit himself from rendering judgment on the fate of Arroyo? He can’t even inhibit himself from rendering judgment on the fate of himself.
That’s true as well, to varying degrees about Arroyo’s other appointees to the Supreme Court, who dominate the Court. Eight are particularly rabid Arroyo fans. Quite apart from Corona, they are: Roberto Abad, Jose Perez, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Presbitero Velasco, Arturo Brion and Martin Villarama. So long as they’re there, so long will they make black white, wrong right, vice virtue. So long will those who need judging be judging.
The courts like to talk of “the fruit of the poisoned tree,” of evidence that may not be admitted because its source is poisonous, because the fruit of a poisoned tree is itself poisoned. Can there be a more poisonous tree than Arroyo? Can there be more poisonous fruits than the justices she spawned?
I applaud De Lima for standing her ground against the Court. Arroyo’s justices have no business being there. They are not trotting out arguments, they are trotting out paid advertisements. There is no constitutional crisis, nor will De Lima spark one by her intransigence. To speak of constitutional crisis is to dignify Arroyo’s justices’ position. It is to imagine that there is an iota of principle in them. It is to forget that they are coming from a tainted source. It is to forget that they are tainted.
We’ve seen what they’re doing once before. In Arroyo herself, like Marcos, justifying tyrannical rule with one law after another and daring the world do something about it. Well, I don’t know why government shouldn’t do something about it. I don’t know why we shouldn’t do something about it.
De Lima has already done so, stood her ground and bid Arroyo’s justices croak in the rain. Implicitly of course. But more can be done.
I don’t know why the Ombudsman cannot look into the earthly possessions of Arroyo’s justices and see if the scale of their opulence is compatible with the modesty of the income judges are supposed to get, however high up they go. I don’t know why we ourselves cannot move to make Arroyo’s justices accountable to us. It’s time they became so: For too long have they themselves gotten away with crime without punishment. There is a chief justice higher than Renato Corona and he is called Juan de la Cruz. There is a court higher than the Supreme Court itself, and it is called The People. I don’t know why we cannot shame them to the depths of their being. I don’t know why we cannot rouse ourselves to heights of indignation, and with the force of unrelenting fury force them to:
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.