Friday, March 16, 2012

The Proof is in the Chief Justice's Pudding

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.


  1. The article you've written is a slap on the face for those who still blindly defend the supposedly honorable chief justice in the guise of rule of law, a law interpreted only to protect their end (as we have seen unfold before our very eyes).

    Our countrymen (am treating you as an adopted child of my native land) have become so desensitized with corruption in the judiciary that it was subconsciously ingrained that the Supreme Court is infallible and that it is blasphemous to question it.

    Whatever they say, it works to every Filipinos benefit that if Corona is impeached, the world will be a better place because we have one less corrupt official.

    1. Anon, thanks for accepting my views as one who has a vested interest in the well-being of the Philippines. Impeachment will indeed unload one more corrupt official from government ranks, and it will also signal "we can do better", something that might flow over into other jobs when decisions are made as to who is selected to perform them.

    2. It is very obvious that Corona is getting desperate. His lawyers, especially Cuevas, are just using technicalities to get their client of the hook.

      But it is also very obvious that Corona has to go. If he can bamboozle his wife's relatives, what more millions of ordinary Filipinos? Do we really want a person of such character to become Chief Justice?

    3. Q1: Um, how many Filipinos are there these days. Q2: Nope.

    4. Anon,

      The people supporting the Chief Justice nowadays are those who are paid or forced to support the status quo, as well as those who want to see the President fail so that they can point to everybody's faces that their candidate was better (yes, I am referring to GRP and AP).

  2. "the Supreme Court is infallible and that it is blasphemous to question it."

    What percentage of the voting population do you think have this belief? They are at the intellectual level of a 6 yrs old. This is kids stuff.

  3. "What percentage of the voting population do you think have this belief?"

    Have you heard of trolls named benign0, ilda, bongV, chinoF and iya-j? I doubt it.

    1. Include benK in the list.

    2. Aha, Anon. Sweet, but I think Attila was referring to regular Filipinos, not those with agendas and an internet bucket from which to spew their . . . ummm . . . _______. Fill in the blank.

      Attila, he is referring to bloggers with an avid anti-Aquino vendetta, thereby forcing them to defend Chief Justice Corona. It is blasphemous to question anything at all about their views.

  4. I can't believe ilda actually wrote an entire blog post praising the boorish and foul-mouthed Miriam "Brenda/Mikee" Defensor-Santiago. Lukaret din siguro yung babaeng yun.

    "Brenda" - brain damage
    "Mikee" - may kililing

  5. Thanks Joe for the clarification. Can anyone give me a wild guess of what percentage of regular Filipinos think the way those bloggers do?

    1. I have no idea. But one of the benefits of this very visible impeachment is that people must confront their old beliefs, whatever they may have been. The Senate has great responsibility, I think, in determining the caliber of official who will be allowed in the highest offices and setting the bar for the future. Guilty = high bar. Innocent = low bar. The trial is getting more attention than a Pacquiao fight, I would note. It is everywhere.

  6. Perhaps 50%. Those bloggers still have a huge fan base (although if you'll ask me, their articles have been getting pretty lame lately).

    1. Yes, I have found that it is difficult to keep a blog going day after day and not suffer from brain drain and blabber lip repeating of oneself. I don't visit Anti-Pinoy any more. I do participate on Get Real Post. They have added a couple of new writers who appear less obsessive and vindictive, although they are still staunchly anti-Aquino. I think it is an editorial requirement.

  7. "I don't visit Anti-Pinoy any more."

    Buti naman. Kung lame ang GRP, ang Anti-Pinoy, BASURAHAN.

    "I do participate on Get Real Post."

    They already dropped you from their roster of worthy reads. In addition, you hate ilda. So why are you forcing yourself on them?

    Speaking of ilda, i really cannot blame you for hating her. Structure-wise, she writes well, but the substance of her articles are either shallow or is laced with half-truths.

    "They have added a couple of new writers who appear less obsessive and vindictive, although they are still staunchly anti-Aquino. I think it is an editorial requirement."

    At least benign0 is finally starting to respect other people's opinions.

    1. Anon, a part of the reason is I do it for self-discipline, to see if I can engage on the issues without getting pissed off by the twits who attack. Guys like Paralellaxe are pros at pushing buttons, so I work at not letting him get to me, and fine-tuning my own axe. But you are right, Ilda is a piece of work. She is the opposite of all that I think is honorable.

    2. Just watch out, though - benign0 has this bad habit of trolling his own blog (read: he would post comments on GRP using various usernames to fool readers into believing that a debate is going on in GRP's comment thread).

    3. Interesting. Not much debate occurs there, though. It is either agreement or hounding out as near as I can tell. Praise or insult.

  8. Ilda needs to get laid.

    1. *Wits

      Bro, if you continue with that line of thought, you are no better than them :-)

  9. JoeAm,

    I agree with your observations. In fact, I think that Corona's resignation or his conviction and subsequent ejection from the post of Chief Justice are the only two acceptable scenarios, if only to avoid repeating this spectacle by January next year, with elections on the minds of some senators.

    Now, with Corona saying that he would not step down, would the Senator-judges do it for him?


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