Gringo Honasan had some interesting things to say before the country burrowed into the pit of Lent last week. We could have been a little kinder, he said, and refrained from dragging Renato Corona’s kids in the mud. That was what happened when the prosecution presented evidence that showed Corona had put several of his properties in their names. “I have expanded the presumption of innocence to the presumption of honor. Bakit mo naman sisirain ’yong kinabukasan ng mga anak at mga apo? Had we been more compassionate, more considerate, more Christian to each other, we should have avoided that.”
He himself hasn’t decided on Corona’s innocence or guilt, Honasan said. But in any case, the world will not come to an end whatever verdict the impeachment court renders. “Hindi naman lulubog sa dagat ang Pilipinas.”
We should have been a little kinder and not dragged Corona’s kids in the mud? Corona should have been kinder and not dragged his kids in the mud! You put your properties in the name of your kids so you can avoid paying taxes for them, indeed so you can avoid being seen to have acquired properties beyond your natural, professional, or occupational ability to do so, you drag your own kids in the mud. You pass off your legal liabilities to your kids, or indeed hide what would otherwise appear as ill-gotten wealth, or loot, or the fruits of corruption, in their names, you drag your own kids in the mud.
The situation is not unlike Mike Arroyo pointing to his brother, Iggy, as Jose Pidal to avoid being tagged so. Thereby making him take the blame. And we’re the ones who ought to be kind and spare them any un-Christian unpleasantness? I don’t know that it’s Christian, but I know it’s Filipino for older brothers to protect their younger siblings and not shove them in the line of fire. I don’t know that it’s Christian, but I do know it’s human for parents to protect their kids with the ferocity of avenging angels and not push them in harm’s way.
In fact Corona should have been kinder and not have dragged the Supreme Court, the Judiciary, and the Law itself in the mud. He should have resigned at the very first whiff of scandal, at the very first scent of conflict of interest, at the very first stench of corruption. Hell, he should never have accepted, or solicited, the position of chief justice at a time when his favorite non-president was legally, morally and patently in no position to give it. Honasan is expanding presumption of innocence to presumption of honor? Corona should have expanded assumption of office to assumption of honor! The position of chief justice is one of the loftiest in the land, home to wisdom, fineness, nobility. It is not haven to scraggly greed.
Still in fact, Corona should have been kinder and not have dragged the country itself in the mud. Why are we having this impeachment to begin with? Because if Corona has shown any instinct to protect anyone, it is not his family but the one person he owes his career, his position, his life to, who is the one person who, next to Marcos, deprived this country of its life, its future, its standing in the world.
Trust Honasan, the one person next to Juan Ponce Enrile who never got the point then that the people risked life and limb at Edsa not for them but for Cory, to not get the point now. The point is not for us to be kind to Corona, the point is for Corona to be kind to us. That is what the officials of other countries do, which is why they resign from their office or from this life, take your pick, or culture, at the first sign of public displeasure.
That is what the officials of the East do, not least to spare their families the shame or stigma of scandal, whether their families are themselves involved in the scandal or not. The sins of the fathers are visited upon the children, a fate they try to thwart by disemboweling themselves with a sword or hanging themselves from a beam, in the hope that that raises a barrier between themselves and the ones they love that dishonor may not breach.
That is what the officials of the West do, not least to spare the offices they hold the humiliation and degradation their actions have caused, whether they have co-conspirators in those offices or not. Institutions are depreciated by the misconduct of their heads, a thing their heads try to head off by resigning and apologizing to the nation, before heading off to oblivion and writing a memoir after a respectable time has passed.
That is what the officials of the East and West do, as a final gesture to their country.
From the other end, that is what the citizens of other countries do, shame their erring public officials into doing so. Make the price of perfidy so high those who commit it, or are thought to have committed it, are compelled to make an exit, graceful or not, posthaste. Certainly make it impossible for them to cling to their positions with the tenacity of terriers. In other countries, someone like Corona would not have been impeached simply because it would not have been necessary, it would never have reached that pass. Public opinion, public sentiment, public opprobrium would have sent him packing long before.
Which in the end is far from being inconsiderate, uncharitable and un-Christian. It prevents the shameless, who insist on remaining where they are despite having lost public trust, indeed despite never having gained a proper claim to their positions, never mind having lost it, from reaching a pass where they drag their spouses and their children down their inglorious path. It doesn’t give them the chance. That is at wondrous best being the opposite of being inconsiderate, uncharitable, and un-Christian. That is being kind to the erring.
That is being kind to the erred.