"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
This was a line from Lord Acton that I used to hear as a child from my father during the dark days of Martial Law. That Marcos, who brazenly padlocked Congress and pulled in a subservient Supreme Court, had by then arrogated unto himself alone all the powers of government. Hence, the Marcos Dictatorship that lasted from 1972 to 1986 and together with it the destruction of our democratic institutions, silencing of the press, and the rape and plunder of the Nation’s wealth.
If history truly repeats itself, as the old saying goes, that may well be the case now with what we are seeing with the unabashed personal vendetta of the President to get rid of Chief Justice Corona at all costs. Indeed, that Aquino has publicly convicted Corona even while the prosecution had yet to complete its presentation of evidence evinces the reality that power has simply gotten into the President’s head.
In the run up to the impeachment trial and as the prosecution presented witnesses, Aquino and his minions were all over media ganging up on Corona’s alleged high crimes. And now that it’s Corona’s turn to present his defense and in the process saw fit to explain himself in the media, Aquino and his underlings led by DOJ Secretary De Lima were quick to denounce Corona as “acting like a politician.”
Thank heavens we now have a more independent media unlike during Martial Law when the only guaranteed truth you could find in the papers allowed to be published was in the obituary section.
This week, Corona will start presenting his defense. Let’s hear it then.
On this note, it’s a good thing that Senate President and Presiding Officer Juan Ponce Enrile has been standing his ground for an independent Senate. More importantly, he has insisted on the preeminence of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights in particular, over the supreme “sole power” delusion of other senator-judges who have been acting more like inquisitors and the galling attempts at “fishing expedition” by the prosecution.
Verily, the Constitution commands a “trial” and not an “inquisition.” And a trial in our system gives each side, that is, the prosecution and the defense, the absolute right to be heard before judgment is made.
While there has been much talk about how the senator-judges will decide in the end, they cannot ignore the fundamental requirement of a verdict that must conform to the Constitution, the laws and jurisprudence, especially in the appreciation of evidence. Otherwise, if such judgment were simply based on personal opinion or “political” judgment, which is actually to pander to public opinion, then that would clearly be whimsical, arbitrary, and undoubtedly a glaring case of grave abuse of discretion.
This time of Lent, we readily recall that Jesus himself was heralded with songs of Hallelujah one day, but condemned days later with shouts of “Crucify Him!”