Am very much bothered by pronouncements made by the members and the chairman of the House Committee on Justice that they will abandon the impeachment proceeding against Justice Mariano del Castillo. The reason given was that the House could not handle the prosecution of the Corona impeachment and that of del Castillo at the same time. This is a lame excuse. To begin with, it is the constitutional duty of the committee to deal with all impeachment complaints and act as prosecutors for all impeachment proceedings. For the committee to abandon an otherwise meritorious impeachment complaint because they’re doing too much already is itself an abdication of a constitutional mandate. Worse, it may send the message that the impeachment of the Chief Justice Corona is not about justice, but as Gloria Arroyo and her cohorts have been saying, part only of a political vendetta. Why?
Del Castillo’s impeachment is all about morality. It is about what is right and what is wrong. It is good versus evil. It is wrong to steal, be it under the laws of God or the laws of men. Plagiarism, any which way you look at it, is thievery. It became robbery when Del Castillo’s ponencia even twisted the already plagiarized work of others to support the exact opposite of the thesis submitted by the plagiarized authors: that is, that victims of mass rape during World War II are entitled to the legal remedy of reparations. It may even be akin to genocide not only because the root word of “plagiarism” was derived from murder, but also because on its face value, the Del Castillo ponencia added insult to the injury of the victims when the decision declared that there was no non-derogable prohibition on rape as a war crime during World War II. Ergo, it may have been allowed. It even insinuated that rape committed against civilian populations was not even criminal during World War II.
It was precisely this kind of a ponencia that made the whole nation to think about the fitness of the justices of the High Court to sit where they do today. In the minds of many, why bother to have a Supreme Court when they are not able to give the victims of gross injustice, even the semblance of a legal remedy?
This will also explain why despite legal formalism which requires the people to accept the decisions of the high court as being final and executory, the people questioned the wisdom of the Supreme Court’s decisions on the Truth Commission and the temporary restraining order on the watch-list order against Mrs. Arroyo. These decisions, like the exoneration of Del Castillo for plagiarism and the court’s order to admonish the UP 37, were deemed to be contrary to morality and natural justice. It was the Del Castillo impeachment complaint that opened the public’s mind to the reality that while the court is referred to as “supreme”, its decisions need not be infallible. Without the Del Castillo impeachment complaint and the ensuing public debate surrounding it, it would have been impossible to rally the people around President Aquino today in damning an Arroyo court.
And lest we forget, Mrs. Arroyo and her cronies are now highlighting that Corona’s impeachment is all about political vendetta. The latest pronouncement is that the Corona impeachment was the President’s way of getting even with the court for awarding Hacienda Luisita to its farmer beneficiaries. Of course I don’t believe this. On the contrary, I have maintained that Corona should have been impeached on Day One of PNoy’s presidency. But pubic opinion is not what lawyers and professors believe. It is about what the average person in the street thinks. Abandon the Del Castillo impeachment and Juan de la Cruz will think that perhaps, Arroyo and her cohorts are correct—that the Corona impeachment is not about what is right or wrong. It is about decisions that proved to be painful to the powers that be. And yes, Rep. Arroyo still commands billions in resources sufficient to support a public relations campaign to portray the Corona impeachment as nothing but vendetta. Dismiss the Del Castillo complaint and you remove the moral dimension in the impeachment process. This is exactly what the Arroyo public relations machinery needs. Could it be that this is the real plan of those who want the earlier impeachment complaint to be dismissed?