- Important job qualification standards: capability and performance. Not who you know.
It seems unrelated, but first let's look at secrecy in the Philippines, or the enduring need to hide private acts from government investigators.
The U.S. Department of State has identified 66 nations as major drug laundering countries. The Philippines is one of the countries, which is not of itself particularly noteworthy, as Singapore, Canada, France, Germany and Italy are also on the list. But the report criticizes an inadequate judicial system as a part of the problem and that connects directly to the Corona impeachment.
Here is a part of the State Department's commentary regarding the Philippines:
- “lack of law enforcement resources, the slow pace of judicial and investigative reforms and lack of law enforcement inter-agency cooperation continue to hamper government efforts to investigate and prosecute higher echelons of drug trafficking organizations operating in the Philippines.”
The report also details how it is difficult to act quickly on information that requires information from Philippine bank accounts, even in the case of terrorism, because the strict bank secrecy laws require stages of court orders to gain access to account information.
|WHO DO YOU TRUST?|
I suspect this will become a major point of tension between the U.S. and Philippines as the Philippines seeks U.S. weaponry and military training assistance. The U.S. has been working hard, and successfully, to gain access to Swiss bank accounts where American tax evaders like to stow their money. My guess is that attention will now turn to the Philippines. The U.S. does not give away money or equipment without self-interested strings attached.
The crime-friendly judicial and law-enforcement policies and strict bank secrecy laws in the Philippines protect criminals other than drug launders and tax evaders; they protect crooks who engage in Illegal kickbacks, bribes, extortions, or misuse of government funds.
One giant leap from dot to dot leads us to the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Corona.
The Chief Justice holds miserable trust ratings among Filipinos, ratings in the low teens.
Mr. Corona evidently does not see the connection between his acts and his poor trust ratings. He and his backers instead reach for excuses, such as "trial by media" or political vendetta by President Aquino rather than grasp that trust is not easily won, but is easily lost.
The decisions that Mr. Corona has made undermined trust, and nothing more. His acts are astounding considering that he is an intelligent and educated professional. He should have understood the likely outcomes of his acts:
- accepting a midnight appointment from a very unpopular president,
- attacking a popular sitting president in a political letter,
- failing (so far) to reveal his dollar assets,
- issuing an SALN that appears erroneous and is certainly not comprehensible, and
- requiring a battery of a dozen attorneys who relentlessly pick at legalistic points during the trial.
It looks like he is hiding, and only he is responsible for these decisions. The media are not. President Aquino is not.
These may not be explicit law violations, but they go directly to the heart of Mr. Corona's qualifications to be Chief Justice. He has evidently not considered or been given the advice: be forthright and truthful.
Perhaps it is dangerous for him to be forthright and truthful.
Frankly, it is not easy to trust a man who hides so relentlessly, and, considering the talents of his legal team, so eloquently.
The problem is that trust is critically important if he is to perform the job he is assigned. A lack of trust makes it difficult for a judge to adjudicate cases while holding the respect of counsel for both the plaintiff and defense. Any hint of favoritism will undermine his standing.
Perhaps the defense will find a way to resurrect his trust. My guess is they would have to be clearer about his SALN, reveal his dollar assets, and allow him to testify so the people can hear that he is mature and objective, not emotional and political. If he is the latter, he is toast, trustwise.
Back to the start of this article. If the Philippines wishes to see top-grade investment ratings and generous U.S. aid, it would behoove the nation to look at U.S. State Department report and embark on steps to show that it is as dedicated to law enforcement as it is to protecting individual privacy. The balance today favors the crooks.
Mr. Corona is behaving as a crook would be expected to behave. That is why his trust ratings are low. Whether or not he is guilty of any crimes, he amply broadcasts the APPEARANCE of guilt.
It will be interesting to see if the Senate will allow a Chief Justice with a 14% trust rating to continue to represent the Philippines, for all that this means domestically and internationally. The Senate trial is a political process, not a legal process. The trust rating goes directly to the point of whether or not Mr. Corona has the proper credentials to do a job in which trust is of paramount importance.