FASTLANES: Purifying illegitimacy and ending impunity

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President PNoy’s war footing and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima’s dogged determination against a supposed co-equal branch of government, the Supreme Court, in making a former President account for her alleged crimes should be easy to understand.

Gloria should now lament for being where she should not have been: the Presidency.

Facing the case of election sabotage and maybe later on several plunder and other corruption cases are important to put closure on the allegations of high crimes and presidential illegitimacy from 2001 to 2010.

In the words of then congressman and now Sen. Chiz Escudero in sponsoring the impeachment cases against her in 2005 and 2006, she betrayed public trust and committed culpable violation of the constitution for stealing, cheating, lying and killing.

Most of the evidences for the cases against her would not be new, but have been lying there only because she aborted several attempts to hold her accountable for her actions while in Malacanang.

Monkey-wrenching the process of holding her accountable for alleged high crimes with procedural matters and bad romanticism of political law could be fatal to our democratic aspirations. On the other hand, a good dose of history and lots of good sense may help a lot.

We had two bloodless people power revolutions, first in 1986 where a brilliant but bad-tempered politician surrounded by thieves was replaced by an inexperienced widow of a political martyr.

The second was in 2001, when a womanizing drunk and gambler was replaced by a Harvard economics doctor but who turned out to challenge the bloody ways of the dictator that replaced her father and made a convicted plunderer look cute on national television.

Twenty-five years since Edsa 1, our journey has denigrated from dancing the cha-cha into a drunk’s walkathon, one step forward, two steps backward.

For lack of any sane explanation, I would even blame our journey to democracy on Jose Rizal who championed the virtues of the turtle over the rabbit. It should not have been turtles and rabbits. It should have been the carabao: humble, strong, slow but determined.

Looking at our neighbors Indonesia which democratized 15 years later than us, and Myanmar some 24 years later is not discouraging; it’s like looking at the Philippines.

To underscore where we are now, wasn’t it pure pain and adding insult to injury seeing Vice President Jejomar Binay announce last Friday via Skype the execution by China of a convicted Filipino drug mule. Binay made the announcement from Bali, Indonesia where he was attending the Bali Democracy Forum which organizers pride as a forum for rolling out democracy’s architecture to the changing world. They did not discuss case studies from the Philippines, I was told, but studied the Arab Spring and of course Indonesia’s swift process of democratization.

As I have said here and in other discussions, I thought that the politicized Supreme Court – with a midnight appointee as Chief Justice who was chief of staff of then vice president Gloria, and with majority of justices also appointed by her, all of whom have a track record of deciding in her favor – deserves a dose of its own medicine, the political faculties of the Presidency and Congress.

It is wrong to reduce the Supreme Court as an institution doomed to blind obedience to procedural law.

The Corona Supreme Court, to my mind, had it not detached itself from social reality and cut its umbilical cord to Gloria, could have decided otherwise on the travel hold order cases and retained its integrity, and strengthened the people’s faith in the judiciary.

Although the poisonous tree does not bear mango, the situation of the Corona Supreme Court is not at all hopeless. Penance of good deeds, a pledge of fidelity to Lady Justice (and no more gallivanting with Gloria), and yes some slaps on the chest from the President may bode well for our democracy.

PNoy’s dressing down of Chief Justice Renato Corona in front of the latter’s subordinates in the judiciary may have just been part of the process of injecting some purifying potion into the judiciary.

Co-equality, separation of powers and checks and balances should work to fix the loose nuts in our dysfunctional democracy, not affirm medical diagnoses made by lawyers.

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