Nuffnang ad

Friday, May 25, 2012

A Matter Of Character

Since Chief Justice Corona is in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) of Medical City, the impeachment proceedings had to take a break, which left a vaccum after his dramatic walkout from the Senate a few days ago. Coupled with the fact that work was piling up, my only update was to turn on the AM radio on my way to conduct class.

In the case of Words V. Action, guess who wins.
(Courtesy of

I chanced upon Karen Davila (not sure who her co-anchor was) talking about it, and she said something that struck me. She was asking people to refrain from personal attacks on the defense lawyers.

It seemed to her that the verbal barbs against Corona's team were just a little bit below the belt, and she reminded her listeners that everyone has the right to a defense attorney, and asking people to empathize and imagine if any of us were accused of something we didn't do, we would also be relying on the services of a lawyer to state and plead our case.

On the surface, I agreed with this. Corona has all the right to hire the best lawyers money can buy - or, in his case, pro-bono, as his lawyers have stated on more than one occassion to ensure that we don't forget it. He is entitled to his day in court, he has the right to refrain from speaking on account of self-incrimination.

Which led me to wonder, why was online commentary bordering on the personal, both about Corona and his lawyers?

I can think of two reasons.

One, none of those rights are being denied.

He has a powerhouse team of lawyers, led by Serafin Cuevas, who a friend described as a "rockstar". The reason the trial came to be is that serious charges were made against him and he has a legal, official venue for stating his case and refuting them, as this is all provided for in the Constitution. No one is forcing him to say anything if he feels it will damage his case or render him in bad light.

His team has been most effective in delaying his appearance in the trial. Throwing every technicality in the book, they managed to trim down the Articles of Impeachment, they were able to prevent dollar accounts from being fact, the defenders of Corona have repeatedly ridiculed the prosecution team as inefficient because what the defense team has been doing is using every imaginable weapon provided for by law they have at their disposal to make sure that pieces of evidence are discarded or made irrelevant, testimonies are stricken out, and other actions that prop his case.

In short, he has actually utilized the law and the attendant rights to his full advantage as a defendant in this impeachment trial.

Unless anyone can pinpoint a way that his rights as a defendant have been violated, I cannot see any of his lawyers claiming the same.

And because of the efforts of his team, we have before us a sea of technicalities that do not provide us an ounce of clarification. Instead of confronting the charges head on, the thrust of the defense has been to limit the things the trial can discuss.

Most people are not lawyers, so we have a lesser appreciation of the finer points of legalistic sparring that both teams have been engaging in. But what we can see is happening is that issues are not being discussed, but rather, being prevented from being opened and dissected.

And those actions (or non-actions) are something everyone can weigh in on without the benefit of a law degree.

Our actions are a barometer of our moral compass, and our character.

Which brings me to the second reason.

It is imposssible not to be personal where one's character is concerned.

Our actions beg the question Why?

Why did you throw the trash on the pavement instead of looking for a trash can?

Why did you tell your friend's parents her secret that you swore you would never tell anyone?

Why did you choose to defend this client?

Everything that we do points to something in our personal code of ethics, our sense of right and wrong, our konsyensya (conscience) as we say it in the vernacular, and in the Safeguard commercial.

It's the inner voice we all have.

The one that tells us something isn't right if we vote for Jessica Sanchez since we are not American residents, explicitly stated in the rules as only those qualified to vote for her.

The one that tells us that President Aquino should follow through on his support of the RH Bill since he has verbally acknowledged it as a priority measure, and not to backtrack against his own word on account of the threats of a particular religion.

The one that tells us that when you try to hide things and prevent others from scrutinizing them, there must be something worth hiding, especially if the person holds a public office, paid for with public money, and demanding public accountability in our Constitution.

We may not be versed in legal verbiage, but we all have what Spider Man calls his Spider Sense, a warning device that indicates that something isn't quite right.

So I'm afraid that I cannot indulge Ms. Davila in her plea to prevent us from judging Corona and his team on a personal basis.

Can't do it, Ms. Davila.
(Courtesy of

As the Chief Justice, he cannot rely solely on legal precedents and textbooks to form his opinion. The decisions he issues have a profound impact on what is to be valued, on what is defined as justice, differentiating what is legal from what is right. The very act of rendering a judgement is a testament to your own sense of right and wrong, to what values you subscribe to, and to what matters to you as a person.

It's a matter of character.

No comments:

Post a Comment