I have come up with a judgment on Chief Justice Corona ahead of the Senate. It is in the best interest of the nation that he not continue as Chief Justice. If conviction is required to make him see this light, then conviction it needs to be.
Impeachment is a political process, a part of the pushing and shoving, balancing and checking, that goes on every day, much as congressmen plod to the podium to give their privilege speeches. Pushing and shoving, balancing and checking.
The overriding concern ought to be what is best for the nation. Not what is legalistically best for Mr. Corona. I say legalistically rather than legally because it recognizes that the winning of a court argument can be done on technicalities, rather than a clear judgment of right over wrong. Although laws are intended to instruct us on right or wrong, they can be manipulated or twisted or used to obscure the truth. Just as the citing of foreign banking laws enables Mr. Corona to hide his dollar assets, which are key to understanding his SALN.
If Mr. Corona continues on the job, it will show the international community that the Philippines remains a pit of irresolvable dysfunction. A place ripe with hidden motive and trickery and corruption. A nation unable to chart a path to candor and honesty and trustworthiness. In other words, the nation will continue to bear the stigma of banana republic, one general short of the next coup.
Many object to my coming to a conclusion before the defense has presented its case. Or they say "show me the facts, show me the proof!"
I argue that hunting for facts outside a construct into which they belong is rather useless. It is commonly done in the Philippines, the place where trees are cut one at a time until there is no forest. And I am not talking about wood alone. I am talking about government fees, for instance. When importers are exporters are assigned fees that make sense in isolation but in a bigger view combine with other fees and burdensome practices to suppress trade. I'm talking about customs duties on personal goods that force Filipinos to be come the laughing stock of the traveling world, packing their big boxes to the brim and carting them onto the passenger flight, converting an airplane into a dangerous, overloaded cargo flight and raising ticket prices for everyone.
I am talking about a party-man's loud music, which is justified for the single celebration, but not when put in the context of everyone doing the same thing and making sleep and healthy living impossible for the community.
And facts are not just statistics laying around. They are sometimes the process by which numbers are combined. It is a fact that when you add two and two, the process will get you get four.
It is a fact that transparency does not mean revealing a pile of unintelligible numbers that neither attorneys nor accountants nor the principal himself can explain with clarity. Transparency indeed means clarity, and Mr. Corona has not been transparent. He is hiding his dollar assets, too. He says he will report them. When? After sufficient time has passed that he can make up a story as to where the money came from? Get all his cohorts on the same page of the story? Get his documentation prepared or shredded?
His stance on impeachment, even the use of a dozen attorneys to represent his case, as if he cannot simply step to the microphone and speak candidly, calmly and informationally, does not engender trust. And the fact is, the Chief Justice of the land should epitomize trust. He should be the most stalwart, trustworthy, honorable legal mind in the country. It is an explicit job requirement.
Mr. Corona does not meet the criterion.
No argument the defense can put up will convince me that this man is the best the Philippines can do.
He is a pride-bound man, and such pride is not honorable in the context of a nation that needs humility and candor. He is not a man of perspective and calm rationality. He is a guy who writes letters emotionally attacking President Aquino, requiring his attorneys to tell him "shut up".
The sole principle for employment anywhere ought to be to hire the most competent person for the job, not a friend or family member of person to whom favor is owed or from whom favor is expected. The Philippines should do this, or stop whining about its poverty and its corruption and its privileged oligarchs.
You can do that famous T-analysis. On the left side of the T list the pros of a different guy on the job. On the right side of the T list the cons of a different guy on the job. We end up listing the security and reputation of the nation against the desire for one man to have a job. Mr. Corona can have numerous jobs. He has contacts and presumably skills. He is not desperate for this one. But the nation is desperate for professionalism and transparency and a huge effort to hunt down corruption. It does not need roadblocks. It does not need more mistrust in its top government jobs. Keeping on a man who means "favor" to many, whether in deed or simply reputation, is foolish.
This nation does not need friends or family or famous people in important offices. Or the wives of ex-dictators. This nation does not need a tele-drama government. It needs professionalism.
So let the attorneys hack at the trees for several more weeks. Let the Senators stare at the wood shavings and try to piece together something that makes sense.
What makes sense to me is for the collective government to find a Chief Justice of impeccable standing who will represent the Philippines as a first-class country. To do less would be a shame.
The Philippines should find the means to escape the idea that it is a beggar nation of excuse mongers, hidden motive and sloppy self-dealing. And of incompetence in its highest governmental positions. It is a fact that most of the outer world views the Philippines as a banana republic, a nation that can't get its law abiding act together, a nation that endlessly falls short of expectations.
You either change that or continue doing the same things.
You either start a new trend of hiring for competence or you continue to muddle along as one of the world's most relentlessly disappointing banana republics.
That's a fact.