Corona’s resignation will boost high court’s image
Conrado de Quiros’ Dec. 5 column, titled “Resign,” is his strongest criticism yet against the Supreme Court, often called disparagingly the “Arroyo Court.” It is rich in irony, full of wisdom and written in his usual inimitable style.
“There’s something 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’,” De Quiros wrote.
I have read some of the exchanges between some justices and De Lima, as quoted in the newspapers, and I cannot but agree with De Quiros that some of the magistrates were insufferably pompous and, indeed, authoritative.
I was particularly struck by how Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo de Castro lectured De Lima over why she issued a hold-departure order against Arroyo when it was the court that can issue that order “only after the filing of the information and the issuance of an arrest warrant.”
De Lima replied that she was only being “careful” lest she would be blamed had Arroyo, who is facing several high-profile cases, been left alone to leave the country and did not return. “It is not accurate to say that you will be blamed because the Court has already assumed that responsibility by issuing the TRO,” De Castro cut back.
Did De Castro ever think that the Court could have sparked a mammoth people protest against the tribunal, which could lead to calls for the resignation of most of the Arroyo-appointed justices if Arroyo was able to leave and decided never to come back? That could be a serious setback for President Aquino’s “daang matuwid” reform program, a campaign pledge in the 2010 election, for which he was overwhelmingly voted into the presidency.
Chief Justice Renato Corona’s resignation could repair the sagging image of the tribunal and help restore the people’s trust and confidence in the Court.
If the voting of the Chief Justice on cases involving Arroyo has been consistently in favor of his former boss, he could not escape public perception that he is biased for the former president. In 19 such rulings of the Court, Corona has never voted against Arroyo.
There is now a petition by a group of citizens calling for his inhibition in future hearings on Arroyo’s cases. He should jump the gun on them before their move snowballs.
I hope there are more Conrado de Quiroses whose courage and writings can inspire our people to develop a strong sense of public involvement in good governance. I invite more people to read him.
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