Finally, the five-month impeachment trial of Chief Justice Corona will come to a close. Early next week, our senators-judges will render their verdict on whether or not Corona should be removed from office.
Of eight articles of impeachment the prosecution originally filed, only three remain. These are the charges for non-disclosure of assets and liabilities, bias for former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and the matter of the TRO by the Supreme Court against the Administration's travel ban on the former president.
Certain legal precepts should guide our senators-judges--and by which we, the people, may also judge them.
First, any charge must be for an impeachable offense and it must be supported by evidence. Thus, what matters most is what the prosecution has been able to prove to the impeachment court. Judgment must be rendered not by the weakness of the defense if at all, but by the strength of the prosecution's evidence. This is rooted in the most fundamental principle of justice of the presumption of innocence of the accused or respondent enshrined no less in our very Constitution. This is, in fact, our guarantee against mob rule. Otherwise, the whole impeachment trial would be a farce like the crowd shouting "crucify him".
Second, impeachment may be political in the sense that the power to initiate, try and decide such a case has been lodged in a political branch of government (the legislative), but judgment must be given in accordance with due process and equal protection. Verily, our Constitution specifically commanded a "trial" which means in our adversarial system of justice a proceeding where both prosecution and defense are heard before any decision is handed down.
Third, and most important, judgment must be made by a rational and impartial mind. Indeed, in their appreciation of the evidence before them, our senators-judges must have their eyes freed of personal biases, interests, and emotions as symbolized by "Lady Justice".
It is only sad to note that during the course of the trial, certain senators-judges have acted very much in a biased manner, particularly for the prosecution. For one, senator-judge Franklin Drilon, a party-mate of President Aquino and who has been helping out the prosecution lawyers whenever they fumble, has even gone out of his way to discuss in detail on national television the alleged $10-12 million dollar deposits of Corona as testified on by the Ombudsman from a report of the Anti-Money Laundering Council. Remember that the president, despite his solemn Oath of Office "to do justice to every man", has long publicly convicted Corona even while the prosecution was still presenting evidence.
Justice is fairness. And to serve the ends of justice, whatever verdict the impeachment court makes, it must be fair in all respects. Fair to the prosecution. Fair to the defense. Fair to the senators-judges. And above all, fair to the entire Filipino People.