10 Things I Wish To See Happen Out of the CORONA Impeachment
This reflection was written and shared on May 30, 2012 at the height of the impeachment of Chief Justice Renato Corona.
- A truly independent judiciary. The next CJ must not be anyone within the circle of PNOY. If the President is bent on doing what is for the common good and constitutional, lawful and fair – he should never be afraid of a neutral and independent judiciary, even a critical judiciary – for the law protects all co-equal departments of government. It is the duty of the judiciary under our constitution to interpret the laws and orders of the two other departments. No matter how good a law or order is – it must be read in consonance with our Constitution and it is the province of the Judiciary. The President must realize that he cannot operate based on FEELINGS (and the dictates of his small elite circle) alone but based on the RULE of LAW. He should not wish that his every edict will be upheld by the SC under the new CJ. Rather – what he should endeavor to do is to make his edicts sound both in law and in aspiration. Our country cannot always operate on aspirations – we must hold our laws sacred – because it is what binds us. We have ways to make our laws better and it does not include trifling with them according to our own personal whims.
- A mindset that the SALN is a tool – a means to an end and not the end. Many of us miss the point. Property is among the three liberties guaranteed by all the democratic states in the world. Every person has the right to increase his wealth and property according to what is just and lawful means. The fact of having money is not per se an offense of a public servant, as long as it was earned rightfully. Therefore – the Filipino must be more demanding than just disclosure of SALN and vice versa – its non-disclosure as an offense. A mob cannot curse blindly. If this administration is true to form – it should sign the Freedom of Information Act as priority bill. It should create a transparent process of ensuring that our politicians and public servants do not enrich themselves in public office at our expense and consider SALN as simply a tool. Filing of SALN must be made ONLINE through the most official portal of the Philippine Government – the Official Gazette. It is not necessarily the fault of a public servant who has filed and submitted his SALN for the public to be not interested in it. If the SALN’s are in the OG – and that being a public record – that will spare the public servant from the apathy of the public – who couldn’t even care less about demanding to see their officials SALN. In fact in this country – I have noticed that people look up to politicians who live lavish lives than those who walk among us as common people. Their eyes glitter at the sight of politicians who are able to draw bills from their pockets at a moment’s notice. I have heard many smirks from voters who have asked me for money as I campaigned – whispering – I am a poor politician. We breed the kind of monsters we have but our misplaced praise for wealth rather than other things that really matter – like competence, genius, bravery. No wonder our country is filled with cartoon characters as politicians.
- Real economic programs for sustainable growth anchored on global trends and national strengths. This administration has yet to prove that it espouses participatory, inclusive and consultative government – which are pillars of good governance. International observers have been one in saying that the two years scrimping of public funds almost bled our economy to death. There is a big difference between a self-righteous miser and a wise spender. The government has mercilessly dislodged useful economic programs of past administrations to make way for its own brand of programs – thinking that they know it all. They have overlooked the fact that private-public partnerships are not novel to the Aquino administration but something which is as old as the first republic of the Philippines. In fact – the revolutions which paved the way for a country know as the Philippines today is mostly-private sector led. The genius of Rizal and courage of Bonifacio. Where they public servants? No. And yet, the Aquino administration went on to destroy public-private partnerships and programs associated with former President Arroyo. One case in point is destroying –without the benefit of consultation – the Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT) – which has served as the catalyst for the last ten years of all sectors in the ICT industry to work together. This is no time for vindictiveness. Our economy now belongs to the ranks of Micronesia and Timor Leste – we cannot tarry any longer.
- A significant revision of our rule-making system – to ensure (just like in all other developed countries) – EQUITABLE representation of all islands of the Philippines. Our country’s highest legislative body is run by 24 senators – not truly representative of the whole country. Election of members of the upper house must be by REGION. The country is practically run by Manila. This system does not at all bridge the islands and engender unity and cooperation.
- Drastic reduction of vote-buying to ensure that we have more statesmen rather than politicians. The media, the church and many civil society organizations have been clamoring against electoral fraud and vote-buying. In fact, so much blame was heaped on the loopholes of the automation of the elections. But as many reformists believe the poll automation was not the problem – the problem is still rampant vote-buying – either in cash or in goods and favor. Politicians and their allies’ bank accounts must be scrutinized during election time not after. Election spending must be curbed. People need to demand more than just money or cheap slogans geared to win the hearts of the “mahihirap”. People need to realize – we are mahirap but not “bobo” hence concrete programs must be presented – for education, health, economy, technology, environment, transportation, food sufficiency, foreign policy, energy, livelihood and skills development, entrepreneurship and many more. Presidential and other national candidates must not just win us with their “picture-perfect” smiles and campaign signs – we should look beyond and demand more.
- A truly inquisitive new generation that will demand more programs for their development and not be contented by just lip-service from the government. When I was young – our youthful energy can sway us to a bandwagon of ideologies – thinking that the good society is all about liberty and equality, or about efficiency and community, we are either left, right, left of center, right of center, extreme or centrist – but these forces block our minds to really think as one nation. Wherever we are in the equilibrium of ideologies – we only have one country. Our best asset today (like most of Africa and other countries) is a young population – this does not however end there. Our leaders do not believe with their hearts the potential of every young Filipino. I see no real and concrete incubation and research programs. Despite the ingenuity of the Filipino minds – we are at the tail end of list of countries with inventions and patents. We see government offices shying away from helping Filipino inventors and entrepreneurs. We see no Filipino brand going around the world as made in the Philippines. We see Filipino exporters barely struggling to fight the global market. We see local industries trying to survive against well-subsidized products dumped in to the Philippine market by other countries. The Filipinos are NOT worth dying for – we are worth believing in. Invest in human development – for a start.
- Real accountability. The problem with the impeachment is that they convicted a man for doing something that the accusers also do. No more pretenses. Let each one come out in the open – this country will never prosper as long as it operates under a big lie – that the Corona’s jurors and prosecutors want us all to believe – that they come with CLEAN hands. Hypocrisy is more palatable than hearing the sad truths in this country. Officials appease us with their “holiness” in exchange for poor and mediocre performance and programs.
- Genuine respect for each department of our democracy. The impeachment has shown how low the legislative can stoop to the wishes of the executive. The theatrical play that we have witnessed showed elected representatives of our country, strutting to and fro in an effort to crush a man with falsified, overstated, manufactured evidence obtained in dubious manner. The pronouncements of Malacanan throughout the impeachment are smacked with obvious over-confidence resulting from the exercise of control over one, supposedly independent body. The supposedly most independent body – the judiciary – is reduced to a mere laughing stock because of public humiliations. Let the impeachment serve as a lesson in Constitutional Law if we are to still proceed as a true democratic country – let each department respect each one and understands each responsibility not only towards each other but most especially to the Filipino people. One thing that stands out for me is that today, the Congress, both lower and upper house, have approved many meaningful legislations – that as a collegial body representing the voice of the people – believe to be important and necessary for our country. For the President to ignore these bills and insist on simply just his priority bills – is an act that thwarts the will of the People exercised through the legislative.
- Respect for the seat of the President of the Republic of the Philippines by the person occupying it. For the President to understand that his every word, his every act is not necessarily done as a personal act or statement. He is the President of the Republic of the Philippines. He must not only earn support but RESPECT. For as people disrespect him – it is almost a show of disrespect to the Republic of the Philippines. As he stands to be the symbol of this country – he must embody competence and professionalism. These are attributes that can be acquired through honest self-evaluation and personal effort. His lack of concern about his words and the words that come out of his mouth does not serve as a good example to aspiring leaders of the future.
- A Filipino Nation renewed and strengthened to face the future. It is said that we deserve the kind of leaders that we have. It is difficult to cast the first stone – when everyone of us is privy to a system that has not brought us up – but down in the ladder of the nations. The Filipino race is one magnificent race – full of potential, talents, hopes and promises. We need to realize that. We need to see that wherever we are in the world. We deserve more. This is our country. Let no one dictate where we want to go. One person I met last month told me – “maybe God is punishing the Philippines!” I was shocked a bit – but at the end of the day – I realized – God is the inner voice in us that keeps us together as a nation. When Asia rises as predicted 20 years ago from being the “sleeping dragon” to the most powerful continent years – from now – I pray our Country – my Philippines – your Philippines is in the frontline of it all!