Aptly put by Twitterzen @JesterInExile in his tweet: Philippine Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona was convicted in his impeachment trial in spite of and not because of the trial prosecution team. As Senate President and presiding officer of the impeachment trial Juan Ponce Enrile emphasized in his vote speech on Article II of the impeachment complaint delivered just before he issued the court verdict…
We have witnessed with disdain the indiscriminate, deliberate and illegal machinations of some parties who have been less than forthright with this Court in presenting dubiously procured and misleading documents which were spread to the media obviously to influence this Courtâ€™s and the publicâ€™s opinion.
It would be redundant to spell out here yet again the specifics around the gross disrespect and insult to the intelligence of the Filipino people the prosecution team led by their “representatives” Niel Tupas Jr and Rodolfo FariÃ±as had mounted in the course of “winning” this trial. My colleague Ilda had already summarised these just before the court re-convened after their Easter break. And Senator Enrile proceeded to enumerate these following the above passage.
Indeed, the prosecution “won”. President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino III won. Uncle Peping won (well, sort of). But does victory really extend beyond the frenzy of mutual high fives Tupas, FariÃ±as, and their boys are probably throwing at one another now? Certainly the pain which accompanied Enrile’s issuance of his vote was quite palpable as it was for a handful of Senator-Judges who also voted to convict. Not in the case of “Senator” Francisco “Kiko” Pangilinan though. Kiko insisted that on top of impeaching Corona, the now ex-Chief Justice should be disbarred. Kiko being Kiko of course failed to grasp the irony in what he was saying — that the trial itself was a 40-day demonstration of precisely why it is the attorneys of the prosecution camp that are really the ones who should be disbarred.
On that note, let me just say it was a pleasure to serve the country side-by-side (virtually, at least) with the gentlemen and lady of the defense team, and the extended community of Netizens who used their brains, whether it be begging to differ to or affirming a view I happen to subscribe to myself. It’s nice to be in good company. As “an admired Filipino economist, based in New York” observed more than a decade ago…
”What ails the country is that Philippine society is intellectually bankrupt.” Take, for instance, the national debates, she pointed out.
“They are droll and unintelligent, focused on the trivial or the irrelevant.” When the issues are of some significance, it’s the wrong arguments that prevail, the wrong side wins. Logic and common sense take the backseat to political arguments and the views of the poorly-educated.
Do the Filipino people have an equal claim to the victory defined by the prosecution camp and its extended clique of henchmen in the media and various “cause-oriented” groups? Perhaps so, if victory is defined to be an affirmation of the notion that the fundamental source of what ails Philippine society can be traced back to a single person or a clearly defined set of “evil” people. The conviction of Corona is just the most recent of a string of affirmations that give Filipinos that all-too-familiar warm fuzzy feeling that their wretchedness is the result of someone else’s wrongdoing.
This addiction to the national opiate goes way back. Filipino spirits soared as high as kites when the Spanish were driven out of the islands in 1898, when the Americans granted them independence in 1946, when the “evil” Ferdinand Marcos was ousted in a “peaceful revolution” in 1986, when Joseph Estrada was removed from office in the sequel to that in 2001, when the “vile” Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo stepped down as president in 2010, and, now, when convicted SALN understater Renato Corona is removed from the office of Chief Justice. What really happened at each milestone is that Filipinos lost one excuse to explain away their chronic failure as a people. Spanish imperialism, gone in 1898. American imperialism gone in 1946, the “Marcos kleptocracy” gone in 1986, the Erap “plunder” thwarted in 2001, the Arroyo illegitimacy gone in 2010, and now the showstopper of BS Aquino’s Daang Matuwid (“straight path”) campaign promise is gone.
With every imagined bogeyman vanquished, the real reason why Filipinos consistently fail to get it together becomes more evident — we are the very reason behind our own consistent failure to prosper. Our ability to externalise reasons for failure is fast running out. That Filipinos would elect to the presidency the least competent, most uninspiring, and least motivated among a wealth of excellent options back in 2010 was the seminal manifestation of this bald truth about our society. We set ourselves up for failure by design as an outcome of a profoundly flawed approach to thinking.
What then, now that President BS Aquino has secured another bullet point to add to his next State of the Nation Address (SONA)? At first, my colleague Arche asserts that the ball is in BS Aquino’s court now that that the chief reason for his presidential paralysis has been dealt with. But then he changes his mind and clarifies: “The ball has always been on [BS’s] court”. True. After the trial, focus will merely shift back to the still evident reality that BS Aquino lacks a vision of what the Philippines might look like after his term ends in 2016.
My other colleague Ben Kritz for his part tweeted shortly after the court issued its guilty verdict…
So, did you feel the Earth shift on its axis? Did your life suddenly change? No? Didn’t think so.
Indeed. After so many political solutions “implemented” and heroes galloping in from and out to the sunset, over the last 100 years, has the Philippines really progressed? I hazard to assert that it has progressed backwards — paatras ang asenso. From a quaint 19th Century colonial paradise to the poster child of American democracy in the Far East in 1946, the Philippines has since degenerated into a 100 million-strong largely irrelevant sovereign footnote in the region. The only reason we are making global headlines today is because we presume to stare down China with our non-Navy at the Spratlys.
That’s right. Now that the impeachment trial is over, the business of Getting Real simply resumes.
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