Monday, February 27, 2012

It’s all about character | Manila Standard Today

It’s all about character | Manila Standard Today

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The impeachment case is not about law, it is about human decency. It is about correct behavior. It is about the fundamental decency of a person, his adherence to Christian beliefs and the mores of society.

Mr. Corona failed these fundamentals the day he accepted a clearly unacceptable “midnight appointment“. It doesn’t matter if it was constitutional or not, it matters only that it was a wrong thing to do. You obviously don’t accept an appointment by someone leaving office. You must have the decency to wait for the incoming leader to make appointments. You particularly do so if you are to assume the highest position of honesty, morality, and probity in the nation.

The eight articles of impeachment are purely supplemental to this. And already Corona has failed this test. It’s not about how much money he maybe has, and certainly not about how that information was acquired. It’s about honesty. The bank documents may be found to have been illegally obtained and hence not acceptable in a court of law, but this is not a court of law, it’s a court of public opinion. That opinion based on these documents is that he’s guilty of, at the very least, perjury. He did not declare those accounts in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth, and those bank accounts undeniably do exist, it’s that simple. There is also no question that he has more assets than were declared in his SALN. It doesn’t matter if it was 45 or 25 or even five apartments. They weren’t listed in his SALN. He also has dollar accounts, that’s confirmed. How much is in them is irrelevant. The existence of these was not mentioned in his SALN. An honest mistake is not acceptable as shown by previous decisions on public servants dismissed for far less than is being accused now. I hope the defense lawyers can recognize that. Whether Corona is legally guilty of something can be brought up separately in a court of law. And more rigorous standards can be imposed there.

So the prosecution is weak and the defense strong. So what, this is not about the ability of lawyers, it’s about inherent honesty of a man, of the nation’s Chief Justice.

It doesn’t matter if the information is admissible or not. This is not a court of law determining legal guilt, it is a questioning of a man’s fitness to hold a high office that demands the highest levels of honesty and integrity. Proof beyond reasonable doubt is not necessary, the preponderance of evidence is more than enough. We are talking about the character of a man who, more than anyone else, must meet the highest standards of decency. There’s more than enough evidence to say he’s failed to meet the high standards required of a Chief Justice. This is a court to determine the truth of the character of a man. The senators have a responsibility to the Filipino people, to the Philippine nation. This transcends adherence to strict legal niceties.

Incidentally, I completely fail to understand why if you find unexplained wealth you can’t look into it because it wasn’t in the articles of impeachment, that it was a “fishing expedition”. How else do you catch big fish except by going fishing. If it’s uncovered during the proceedings of the trial, as this was, of course you look into it.

This is only the second impeachment trial ever, it is unique in itself and cannot be treated as court cases normally would be. The banks have acknowledged he has more money than he reported. That’s a fact. That’s sufficient reason to declare him guilty. His SALN was false. The defense counsels are first and foremost Filipinos, only secondarily lawyers. They should be concerned about what’s the best for the welfare of their country. A man of now questioned ethics should not be Chief Justice, the doubts alone are sufficient. And 70 percent of a group I surveyed agree.

A chief justice is next to a bishop in the depth of character he must have ― far greater than us mere mortals. Corona does not meet the high standards demanded of the position.

He should do the decent thing and resign.

But if the trial continues to its end whatever the outcome, I can’t imagine how he can remain as chief justice. It would certainly put the Supreme Court in a continually questionable position.


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