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There’s The Rub

Still, mob rule

Last week the Supreme Court cleared Renato Corona of wrongdoing in the Fasap case. That case involved the justices reopening a ruling they had made three times “with finality” in favor of Fasap presumably because the last ruling was made by the wrong division.

The Court cleared Corona because, one, he wasn’t even part of the recall. He had “acted only on the recommendation of the ruling division.” “In the absence of any clear personal malicious participation, it is neither correct nor proper to hold the Chief Justice personally accountable for the collegial ruling of the court en banc.” And, two, the recall was made before the third ruling could become final “pursuant to the court’s power of control over its orders and resolutions.”

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That doesn’t make Corona innocent, that just makes the justices who voted for the recall guilty. All it shows is that the problem isn’t just Corona, it’s the Supreme Court itself. Or the justices Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo packed it with. They render the term “Supreme Court justice” a far more laughable, or vicious, exercise in self-parody than “military intelligence.”

So what if the recall was made before the ruling became final? That doesn’t answer Fasap’s charge that all it took for the justices to make it was a letter from Lucio Tan’s lawyer, Estelito Mendoza, asking them to do so. On the basis of a legal technicality, or loophole, that the wrong division had made it. You look for legal loopholes in all the cases in this country, you will have to release all the inmates of Muntinlupa. Except of course that they do not have lawyers who can find that for them, which is why they are there in the first place.

More than that, that was the third ruling “with finality” the Court made in Fasap’s favor. What, the division that made it consists of members who are so dense they never realized for one minute while in the throes of deliberation that they were not the right people to do it?

The sheer insensitivity, quite apart from monumental injustice of it, is mind-boggling. It’s bad enough that this case has gone on for 13 years, the illegally retrenched flight attendants having made do with whatever they got by way of a parting shot. It’s worse that they’ve been strapped to an emotional roller coaster, sent to heights of elation at having won their case only to be plunged to depths of depression at being told, “Whoops, hold your horses—or plans to pay off the mortgage—it ain’t over till the fat lady sings, or the greedy old men choke.” Indeed, to be told “Ay mali, the wrong division wasted all these years making the right decision—so it’s the wrong decision after all.”

That is quite apart from what it does to law in this country. When does a ruling ever become final? When does a case ever end? That is not entirely unanswerable in the Fasap case. The answer is obvious: When the ruling favors Lucio Tan. When Lucio Tan has won the case.

All this doesn’t let Corona off the hook, it makes him squirm in it all the more. It doesn’t crown him with a glow, it crowns him with thorns. Demonstrating that the shenanigans of the Supreme Court are not Corona’s monopoly but the work of a pack of unsavory characters there doesn’t make things better, it makes things worse.

It shows the fatal folly of the impeachment court bowing down to the Supreme Court’s TRO banning the opening of Corona’s dollar accounts and its refusal to allow personnel from its ranks, other than the ones it wants, to appear in the impeachment court. Why should you allow the very people who implicitly stand indicted with Corona to determine how the impeachment court may prosecute one of their own, or indeed their head honcho? That’s allowing the family of a murder suspect to determine how the investigators may investigate the murder. The fact that the majority of the justices came up with their palpak rulings collectively doesn’t lessen Corona’s guilt, it just increases that of his co-conspirators.

Collegiality doesn’t lift Corona off the hook, it just hauls in his fellows in a bigger net. All it does is show the real problem, which is not just Corona but the Supreme Court that Arroyo made. Which is not just Corona but the cabal that Arroyo raised. Which is not just Corona but a system of justice, or the utter lack of it, or the very opposite of it, that the Judiciary has come to represent. Of which Corona is its crowning glory.

Miriam and company’s justification for acceding to the Supreme Court’s wishes was to avoid a collision course with it. Why, what’s wrong with a collision course with the Supreme Court? Or with the gang that, like Arroyo herself, has taken over it; with the syndicate that, like Arroyo herself, clings to it for dear life, or dear loot? At the very least, it was this gang or syndicate that fired the first shot, driving the Supreme Court to a collision course with the impeachment court when it meddled in the latter’s affairs—upon the invitation of the defense. It was this gang or syndicate that went on a collision course with the Executive, with Congress, hell, with decency itself, when it hailed Arroyo’s midnight appointment of Corona as chief justice.

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At the very most, why shouldn’t you go on a collision course with a gang or syndicate that has shown a resolve only to cling to the crooked path, the wayward path, the corrupt path? That is so caught up in a culture of impunity it thinks nothing of subjecting a whole tribe of people who earn a living the hard way, the honest way, to a living hell for 13 years just because it has the power to do so, just because it can invoke the law, like God, to do it?

Collegiality? That’s just another word for shared crime. That’s just another word for common guilt.

That’s just another word for mob rule.

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TAGS: Fasap case, featured column, mob rule, opinion, Renato corona, Supreme Court
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