In the battle between the President and the Supreme Court, it might not be the Senate or Congress who will be the final judge.
In the National Criminal Justice Summit at the Manila Hotel, President Ninoy Aquino gave a scathing speech against the Supreme Court justices, particularly to Chief Justice Renato Corona. He accused them of protecting Gloria Arroyo, who during her time as president, had appointed a number of them to office.
President Aquino criticized the move of the Supreme court to allow Arroyo to leave the country to seek medical attention abroad. He was also not shy on reminding everyone that he thinks Chief Justice Renato Corona is a ‘midnight appointee’, strategically handpicked by then outgoing President Gloria Arroyo to protect her from legal problems that are sure to follow.
These remarks from the President to a Chief Justice are unprecedented. Yet, one has to be reminded that the nature of the appointment of Renato Corona to office is quite unprecedented in the scale of shamelessness. Why would a President whose legitimacy is questioned appoint a new chief justice with a few more days remaining in her dubious term? The answer would reveal itself in the days that followed, for the Arroyo-assembled Supreme Court would invariably deem every move to make her accountable for her sins ‘unconstitutional’.
This is the very root of President Aquino’s derision against the Supreme Court. The derision is further deepened by the fact that they are equal and independent as per the constitution, and he can only do so much once the Supreme Court decides according to its whims.
This brings to light the fact that for so many years, the Judiciary branch of government has gone unchecked, almost considered holy and infallible when it comes to the laws of the land. Perhaps, that happened because never was a time when appointments were so filled with questionable intentions.
President Aquino in his speech, looked like a father helplessly venting frustrations to a wayward teenager, but not really knowing what to do about it. Chief Justice Corona appeared calm throughout the speech, not because he is into Zen or something, but maybe more because he believes the Supreme Court is equal in power and superior in integrity to the Office of the President.
Only now, it isn’t. If the people can revolt against somebody duely elected by the majority like Joseph Estrada, how much more for supreme court justices who are merely appointed by the elite? The majority of Filipinos want simple normal lives, but they are ready if their judgment is needed. Here’s to hoping this does not need to happen.