News & Current Events,  Politics & Law

In This Crisis, We Stand Together

Just sharing this speech…

In This Crisis, We Stand Together*
Court Administrator and Spokesperson
Supreme Court

As you all know by now, our Chief Justice Renato C. Corona has been impeached in blitzkrieg fashion, in an unprecedented, lightning-like, coming together of 188 members of the House of Representatives. This astonishing, astounding feat has never been seen in response to urgent legislation long pending and gathering dust in the halls of our revered Congress.

I will not be quick to impute impartiality or bias but I am sure that many of you will agree with me that there is much much more than meets the eye in these abrupt turn of events. While we have generally caught wind of this plan beforehand, no one can dispute the clear signals now being sent to us by determined political entities. The events we have all witnessed, and I need not spell out conclusions, are easily drawn from these adventures. At any rate, we obviously know them now.

Make no mistake. This is an assault not only the person of Chief Justice Corona, not only on his Office, not only on the Supreme Court. This is an assault on all the rights, power and privileges of the entire Judiciary. We are being forced to surrender our constitutionally-mandated powers and functions to the whim and caprice of political machinations. If you have read the complaint, and I urge all of you to do so, any lawyer worth his salt will have difficulty finding sustainable charges worthy of a conviction in an impeachment proceeding.

I join the eminent constitutionalist Fr. Joaquin Bernas in his hope, "[i]n this critical moment of our constitutional history, my hope is that the justices of the Supreme Court, imperfect though they may be, will not capitulate and that others in the judiciary will not tremble in their boots and yield what is constitutionally theirs to the President. If they do, it would be tragic for our nation."

If I may be allowed to speculate, and I say this not as an official of the Court but a lawyer speaking from my own little understanding of the law and the Constitution, these charges can have no genuine motive other than to malign, to smear and to destroy the reputations of the Chief Justice, the Supreme Court, and the entire Judiciary for obvious political reasons and personal ambitions.

I offer to you, to all of you judges, this brotherly warning that the forces and the issues at play here are aimed at our very offices, our sworn duties, and our important roles in our constitutional structure and administration of justice. To be sure, the perpetrators of this dastardly assault hope to intimidate and inspire fear amongst us with the loud clamoring of their ill-advised leadership. If they can toy with the public’s mind, to put the Chief Justice at the precipice of disaster, how much easier can it be to pressure any other member of the judiciary or anyone of us?

We often refer to the Chief Justice as if he were the Supreme Court itself, and rightly so, because he is the physical embodiment of judicial power. He is primus inter pares for administrative matters but also for upholding the court and our system of justice. As he said in his speech yesterday, not only is he our Chief Justice, he is also our defender.

I am emboldened and inspired by his courage. For me, it is not only a source of strength but a call to duty. It is the same call I ask you all to heed. I would very much prefer perorating on the various aspects of the present situation, including the baseless and unsubstantiated complaint for impeachment. No doubt, we are staring a constitutional crisis right in its face, however prudence dictates that I must confine myself to these few observations.

My congratulations and best of luck to Judge Tony M. Eugenio, incoming President of the RTC Judges Association of Manila, and the other incoming officers of the organization. We all look upon you to provide the conviction and will to carry on.

In closing, let me leave you with a simple parting message conveyed by the Chief Justice at our Flag ceremony yesterday: Your Honors, in this crisis, WE STAND TOGETHER.

May God bless us all.

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