More than two-thirds (2/3) of the senators have convicted Renato C. Corona. He is now to be removed from the post as chief justice and be permanently barred from holding any public office or position.
The present House of Representatives and Senate have done their sole duty and authority to initiate impeachment and to try and decide on impeachment complaints against an impeachable official. This one against Corona is the first-ever impeachment process that reached conclusion.
The judgement, which is indeed momentous and have wide and far-reaching implications, was not only expected but was demanded by the people even before the House of Representatives initiated the impeachment of Corona.
This small and partial victory of removing Corona from the post, which was arrogated for him by Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and which he assumed, is still to be pursued into its finality. Until Corona and his ilk comply and submit to the Senate’s decision, this episode is not closed.
We should remain vigilant. The actuations and latest statements of Corona and his lead counsel are doubtful and suspicious. Corona has said that he accepts the verdict “if it would be for good of the people”. But before accepting the verdict, Corona first denounced the impeachment process as having been dominated by political manoeuvrings and re-asserted that his conviction is product of a conspiracy.
His acceptance of the verdict is doubtful and betrays ill intentions. He has earlier filed a petition before the Supreme Court to stop the impeachment process. His walk-out last May 22 also proclaimed that he does not recognize the impeachment court and actually wanted to lord over it. His lead defense counsel Serafin Cuevas has also declared before the verdict was handed down that should Corona is convicted they would protest the verdict before the Supreme Court.
Corona’s pending petition and the expressed plan of filing a new complaint before the Supreme Court are designed to hostage not only the Senate’s verdict but the principle of “check and balance”. Should they pursue this and should the SC act on it could lead to a constitutional crisis.
The removal of Corona from the highest post in the Judiciary is now demanded by the people to proceed to major and fundamental reforms of the judicial system.
The Aquino administration is urgently called for to fulfil its promise to bring to closure all the pending charges against GMA and her ilk. The more urgent ones include the human rights violations particularly the numerous extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearances and cases of illegal arrest and detention; the fraudulent 2004 and 2007 elections; the ZTE deal, Fertilizer Scam, etc.
“Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty”
The ouster of Corona from a stolen post maybe the end of an episode but is also the beginning of a new chapter of more arduous struggle for truth, justice, freedom and democracy that would require heightened vigilance of the people.
For the people, the most important lesson in the impeachment trial is vigilance and resoluteness for a just cause.
The twenty senators who voted for Corona’s conviction may be commended but they may not claim victory for the people because they have to prove more as being their “representatives”. Although the senators may have acted and spoken in political grandstanding ways they have said a lot that have meaning to the people.
But the people should not be misled by words of promises and place their hopes at the hands of leaders who do not genuinely represent their interests. Instead, the people should follow-through their other major and basic demands.
That all public officials be accountable to the people by declaring the true state of their assets, liabilities and net worth is just one among the demands of the people to check graft and corruption. Public officials would all fail if they would be measured with the liabilities and promises they owe the people.
One senator has expressed their other liabilities to the people: “impeaching poverty and hunger, unemployment, etc.” But he failed to air the need to repeal laws that are causing and exacerbating these symptoms of crisis. Among others the most urgent ones are Oil Deregulation Law, Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA), Mining Act, the US-RP Visiting Forces Agreement. A Marcos legacy that is the Foreign Currency Deposit Act belong to this ranking.
President Noynoy Aquino is particularly being called to prove that his Matuwid na Daan is meaningful to the people. Other than arresting GMA and Abalos and ousting Corona his campaign against graft and corruption must redound to real and concrete benefits of the people that would pave the way towards fundamental economic, political and social reforms.
The people’s historical and continuing struggle for truth, justice and democracy will certainly proceed from this one episode. It is for the people to decide the next chapters not only through the coming elections but in pursuing their struggle relentlessly.