Impeachment touted as ‘political in nature’ used against a man accused of politicizing Philippine Supreme Court

A lot of newspaper “columnists” started the week by expounding on the nature of impeachment trials as being political in nature while at the same time emphasizing that it is still a process that follows the principles of the scientific method, of revealing a conclusion as close to the truth as the quality of the evidence and the logical faculties of the parties involved permit. This is something the legal system aspires to be — and its procedures and rules are designed to mirror the scientific method, the key aspects of which include…

(1) formulation of a hypothesis — analogous to the charges brought forth by the prosecution;

(2) collection and validation of empirical data — analogous to criminal investigation and verification of the evidence that is its outcome;

Subscribe to our Substack community GRP Insider to receive by email our in-depth free weekly newsletter. Opt into a paid subscription and you'll get premium insider briefs and insights from us.
Subscribe to our Substack newsletter, GRP Insider!
Learn more

(3) presentation of findings and subjection to peer review — analogous to the court trial itself; where evidence and arguments coming from both sides are presented and evaluated; and,

(4) formation of a conclusion — analogous to rendering of final judgment.

In the modern application of the scientific method, popularity plays no part in evaluating all the input into the process undertaken.

To be fair, the legal system does not present itself as the most efficient, the most reliable, nor the most watertight option for taking people to account in the Philippines. But because of its focus on evidence and logical debate (albeit, in practice, it may be anything but) it appeals to people who think and who rely on people trained to think. As such, only trained professionals who are licensed (by virtue of said training and subsequent experience applying it) to practice law are authorised to officiate legal processes.

An impeachment procedure, as many apologists of the rather dodgy way the complaint against Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona was railroaded through Congress like pointing out, is supposedly one that combines the scientific rigour aspired to by legal processes with the “endorsement” of the “popular will”. Randy David in his article “Between law and politics” describes how the political aspect of most things “provides the means by which society makes collectively-binding decisions”. In the case of impeachment which is obviously highly political in nature, the power to undertake it is “regulated by law”.

The impeachment “trial” being organised around the Corona case has all the trappings of this “regulation”; but…

Unlike passive jurors in a courtroom, senator-judges can ask questions during an impeachment trial. By a majority vote, they can overturn a ruling of the presiding officer. They are not required to insulate themselves from public opinion.

But, see, even if these “senator-judges” and the whole process they work within are isolated from public opinion, the very circumstance surrounding how one becomes a Senator — being elected by popular vote — cannot be escaped. Indeed, popularity is pretty much the only key criteria that qualifies any aspiring bozo for membership in the Senate. And, as I pointed out in my previous article “Chief Justice Renato Corona’s trial-by-publicity heats up as Malacañang PR machine switches to overdrive”…

Thus is evident the trouble with a trial overseen by the Senate — a political body composed of officials elected by popular vote, many of whom routinely act with careful consideration of their re-election prospects. In effect, it is actually possible to campaign for a desired outcome in such a trial — because the officiators of said trial are beholden to a public, composed of a majority who are blind consumers of mass media. A public sentiment bent towards a certain notion may as well be a firm twist on the arm of one Senator or another.

The question, as always, when it comes to Philippine “democratic” politics is a very fundamental one:

Can the popular sentiment be relied upon to rule justly?

And even more fundamental than that:

Does the popularity of an idea — or a ruling — necessarily determine its validity?

Funny how those who criticise the legal system for being tainted by politics (the cornerstone argument that underlies Corona’s impeachment) fail to see the irony in how they make a virtue of the political nature of impeachment. Corona, who himself is being accused of skewing the rulings of his office towards the interests of his alleged politician friends is going to be judged by a bunch of people who, themselves, are necessarily driven by popularity politics.

It’s called “the Philippines”. Fun indeed.

9 Replies to “Impeachment touted as ‘political in nature’ used against a man accused of politicizing Philippine Supreme Court”

  1. All i see in this whole farce is political hypocricy, personal vendettas, a distorted view of priorities, a lack of media integrity, the use of ‘opinion surveys’ as public conditioning, and that ‘pork barrel’ is the source/basis of all evil/corruption.

    I also see a third world country displaying its lack of competence, decorum, understanding of the law, and being anything but democratic

    Personal gain above country interest, and staus quo above progress

    Whatever the outcome, one thing is for sure – the country’s problems are getting worse not better and the govt needs to shape up – or better still ship out.

    The party is over for the bald guy and his corrupt kkk, or would be if the media did their job properly.

    1. As early as now, people (the ones who at least think as opposed to herded)are counting with their fingers who would or would not vote for impeachment based on:
      1)whether he/she has an axe to grind with CJ Corona,
      2)whether he/she has an axe to grind with Aquino,
      3)he/she up for re-election,
      4)he/she in danger of losing a re-election,
      5)he/she is showing off
      6) he/she is kowtowing to the god oops president, i mean
      7) he is just totally clueless what’s going on
      8) etc., or just add your own

      Pathetic state we’re in.

      1. Exactly! Even those who seem to play neutral at this point will eventually lean on one of these 7 points.

        Pathetic indeed, especially when someone’s (wink) vindictiveness will finally backfire on himself. Ouch!

  2. If popular sentiment (will of the people) is above the letters of the Constitution and all other laws, why then did we not recognize the cause of EDSA 3?

    Don’t get me wrong. I was not a fan of EDSA 2 and 3. Had there been a plebiscite nationwide during that time asking the people to validate EDSA 2, I am sure ERAP would have been reinstalled in power.

    1. I’m sure Erap would not be reinstalled in power in any plebiscite during that time.

      “Cause” of EDSA 3?

      Those vandals and lasingeros?

      Better luck next time.

  3. Senators are, of course, elected as legislators; but when they sit (and dress) as judges to try and decide impeachment cases, Art. XI, Sec. 3 (6) provides that Senators “shall be on oath” as judges (no assurance, of course, that they will act like one):

    “The Senate shall have the sole power to try and decide all cases of impeachment. When sitting for that purpose, the Senators shall be on oath or affirmation.”

  4. Impeachment is a political/personal tool, of those in power…or those who want to bring somebody down. In the case of Supreme Court Justice Corona…It was his decision of ruling against Noynoy Aquino’s Hacienda Luisita, that caused the impeachment. Her sister, the whore, Kris Aquino is still the major stock holder of the Hacienda Luisita…Noynoy Aquino may had sold his shares to Kris Aquino…then , he will buy it back, when things calm down…
    It’s Greed that caused the impeachment…nothing else…

  5. U know what’s so annoying is that some people are actually praising trillanes for saying that he will be biased.
    He actually scored pogi points for being downright unfair, when it is his job to be objective and to abstain from being influenced by factors other than the evidence.

    That goes to show, he got elected while still in prison (I seriously wonder how that happened) because he endangered a lot of lives… And the people he endangered are the ones who elected him…

    It really is more fun in the Philippines.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.