The Chief Justice must be ‘like a Pope’

The Chief Justice must be ‘like a Pope’


By BERTENI “TOTO” CATALUÑA CAUSING
Editor-in-chief, Dyaryo Magdalo


Justices of the Supreme Court must be looked up to as saints of law and justice while the Chief Justice must be “like a Pope.”

            A senator-judge admitted to this writer that this statement is the biggest influence to him when he decides, for conviction or acquittal, in the Impeachment Trial of Chief Justice Renato C. Corona entering the 14th day at the time of this writing.

          “We have to accept that this is a fact of life,” said this senator who requested anonymity to avoid misinterpretation that some would suspect he may be biased.

          If it were the President of the Philippines or the Vice-President who is on trial, it could have been a lot different.

            For the position of President or Vice-President, this senator implied that he would not be worried about evidence suggesting dishonesty or immorality. All he would look into is whether there is sufficient evidence to convince that the impeached official is guilty on the basis of facts and then weigh the removal from office against the impact on the country’s economy and whether the sin is forgivable by the people.
 
The senator cited what happened to US President Bill Clinton who admitted all the accusations but that his lawyer argued that it would be worse for America to remove Clinton.

        For the position of the President, the Constitution of the Philippines requires no experience or no educational attainment. The age of 40 and an ability to read and write are enough.  

Looking at these personal qualities required to qualify for the Presidency, the senator conceded that even if the President happened to possess the worst of dishonesty or immorality, extreme reasons mostly are required other than evidence in order to decide to convict.

For the position of a Commission on Audit Commissioner or Chairman, it is but natural that the guilt should be related to the efficiency of the performance of the work of auditing.  The official function of a COA official is auditing.  So that this senator tacitly approved that the standards of evidence may be lower in class than the President’s case and then the evidence must be weighed also against the issue of whether it will have substantial effect to deteriorate the entire auditing system of the country or that whether the trust of the people was betrayed.

Similar could be said in case it is a Commissioner or the Chairman of the Civil Service Commission who is on trial.

It is postulated that no matter what grounds are used to impeach, if they are proven the end result will always redound to the trust of the people.

For the position of a Commission on Elections Chairman or Commissioner, the trust reposed in them must be higher because the Comelec officials perform a very delicate task of ensuring that the elections are clean, honest and free.  If a commissioner is like the one in the “Hello Garci” brouhaha, then the people cannot allow him to steal the people’s most basic right and duty to decide for their future.

It is in those ballot boxes that begins the future of the country. A wrong beginning will lead to dire consequences.

For the position of the Ombudsman, the regimental requirement may be the same as those of Comelec officials when it comes to impeachment issues.

This is so because much part of governance rests in the hands of the Ombudsman. There is no need to elaborate what would happen to the country with the graft-hunter who is corrupt.  So many issues of injustices and corruption are laid on the shoulders of the Ombudsman, not to mention those victims of policemen or other law enforcers.

         But when it comes to an impeachment of a Justice or the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the standards are those that are of the highest in terms of morality, honesty and integrity.

           This senator said that the Chief Justice must pass the stringiest requirement of fitness to the office.  As such, even “an iota” of doubt to his honesty or morality is enough to disqualify or remove him from the Supreme Court.

“The Chief Justice should be like a Pope,” this senator declares.

Asked how he looks at the standing of Corona, the senator said he will definitely vote for the conviction if he were to vote now that the Chief Justice has not yet submitted explanations to the clear discrepancies in the Statements of Assets Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) compared against the extent of his property.
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