Manila, Philippines – It has been dubbed as the first major battle of Pres. Benigno Aquino III’s anti-corruption campaign. It’s objective seems clear: Remove Renato Corona as Chief Justice to pave the way for a politically unimpeded prosecution of former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
The logic is that Corona, who was impeached by the Lower House last month on allegations of corruption and betrayal of public trust, had been protecting Mrs. Arroyo and her allies from prosecution.
The trial of the Chief Justice is crucial to the political stability and future of the country, because it puts to the test the integrity and independence of all three branches of government – the Executive (Pres. Aquino), the Judiciary (CJ Corona), and the Legislative (the Lower House and the Senate).
At one point, the Corona trial sparked fears of a constitutional crisis, pitting the President against a Supreme Court where 12 of its 15 members were appointed by Arroyo.
But all these fears have been more than silenced by the effectiveness of Senate Pres. Juan Ponce Enrile, a genuine statesman who stands head and shoulders above his peers in probity, coherence and objectivity.
The Senate has vowed to be impartial in this trial. It is a promise that has been successfully fulfilled so far, largely through the sterling leadership of the Senate President, whose experience and command of the law has prevented the trial from becoming a circus, much more a vendetta game of the ruling party against the current opposition.
And yet, it is quite ironic that many Filipinos seem oblivious to the goings on of the Corona impeachment trial. Initial man-on-the-street interviews show an obvious lack of public knowledge, much more public interest in this very crucial moment in our nation’s history.
Faced with this apolitical tendency of our countrymen, we, the media, have our work cut and dried: We need to keep the public informed and interested in this trial. We need to find ways to explain the issue without diminishing its merits.
It is time we all fully understood our responsibilities. We, the media, cannot continue to let crucial events happen without engaging the larger citizenry. For the Filipino People: No more getting into things without thinking. No more eyes wide shut.