Like Caesar’s wife
Published by the Visayan Daily Star Publications, Inc.
|NINFA R. LEONARDIA|
Editor-in-Chief & President
NIDA A. BUENAFE
MAJA P. DELY
ANTONIO L. LEONARDIA|
Last Monday, when President Aquino spoke at the 1st National Criminal Justice Summit held at the Manila Hotel, he took potshots at Chief Justice Renato Corona who was seated just a few feet away, questioning the legitimacy of his appointment and noting that the credibility of the Supreme Court has been suffering due to several controversial decisions.
That scathing speech, that has been described as “quite disturbing” by members of the judiciary, may have expressed the sentiments of many Filipinos, but many also questioned the propriety of the President in issuing such combative words against a co-equal branch of government.
Members of the academe and organizations, like the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption, have expressed disappointment over Aquino’s tirades at the Chief Justice and the Supreme Court. Constitutional expert Fr. Joaquin Bernas believes Aquino’s act aggravated the conflict between the executive and judicial branches, while San Beda College Graduate School of Law dean Fr. Ranhillo Aquino believes that it was irresponsible of the President to lead the public in showing disrespect to the SC, which is supposed to be the last bastion of democracy.
On the other hand, more Filipinos, including the man-on-the-street, seem to agree with what the President had said because it reinforced their own perceptions of the highest court in the country. Still ringing in their minds are the revelations of Senator Franklin Drilon and other members of both the House and the Senate that, so far, the present constitution of the Supreme Court has been very sympathetic to the causes of the former president. As Drilon described it, the present record of this court is “untarnished” as far as rulings and decisions in her favor are concerned.
Legal minds also from the academe, like Law Dean Amado Valdez, president of the Philippine Association of Law Schools, says the President only expressed the people’s wishes, while a congressman called it a wake-up call for the high court. As for the utter silence on the part of the Chief Justice, some laymen even claimed that there was no way he could answer the cases enumerated by the President.
The members of that body may justify all their actions, including the highly questionable flip-flopping on the case of the 16 unqualified new cities, but they should earnestly work on improving their reputation. They should be reminded that they, like Caesar’s wife, should be always above suspicion.*