COMMENTARY: Corona on trial: In his own fiefdom

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/27 May) — Of all the words uttered by Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona when he came back to apologize Friday after leaving the impeachment court without being properly discharged, nothing is more telling than describing former colleague Conchita Carpio-Morales, now Chief Ombudsman,  as ‘hindi kaalyado’ (not an ally).

It was the lowest point of his testimony, which had stretched over five hours counting the three hours the first time he appeared Tuesday before the Senate impeachment court.

By characterizing Carpio-Morales as his own antagonist, he blatantly revealed his contempt against anyone who does not share his thoughts, opinion and position.  It likewise exposed, chillingly, his intolerance against perceived rivals.  More dangerously, it borders on his growing despotism.

He may have made his case against President Benigno ‘Nonoy’ Aquino III whom he accused of persecuting him.   But at least, he was given the chance to defend himself through the constitutional process that is his own impeachment.

But that cannot be said of him when he threw the septic tank against about anybody that dared cross his path.  Yes, he used the same gutter language against his colleague Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, a cousin of Carpio-Morales, whom he accused of coveting his position.  In short, also not his ally.  In so doing, the Chief Justice displayed, without any compunction, his propensity to destroy other person’s reputation in order to defend himself against questions over his character and integrity.

We cannot but feel sorry for him but, somewhere, it was revealed that Corona had long coveted a seat at the Supreme Court as early as 1998 when he was the chief of staff of then Vice President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.  It didn’t help that Antonio Carpio, his benefactor at one time, was appointed as Supreme Court justice a year ahead of him, in 2001.

When he nonchalantly walked out from that Senate session hall after a lengthy monologue, he did so by arrogantly saying he already wished to be excuse.  And excuse he did himself without permission from the court.  We seriously doubt he would tolerate such a serious breach of court decorum had somebody tried to do the same before the Supreme Court where he is “supreme” – the primus inter pares.

Being first among equals, however, does not mean you are the king in your own turf.  Only a despot treats his exalted but appointed position as his own fiefdom. (Edwin G. Espejo writes for