It is now a certainty that Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona will be impeached. Right now, more than 180 congressmen had already signed the articles of impeachment. Only 95 votes are needed for impeachment. Notably, the vast majority are members of the ruling coalition, led by the Liberal Party. If the record of the impeachment vote against former Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez is an indication, then there is a potential 200 plus votes out of the 280 possible total that can be gathered.
The articles of impeachment mention eight counts of impeachable offenses, specifically for betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the Constitution. Anytime now, the articles of impeachment will be forwarded to the Senate for the impeachment trial.
Of course, the vote in the Senate cannot be predicted at this time and the 16 votes required for the guilty verdict is a steep target. However, the House signatures already define the more possible outcome. It is CJ Corona who will be fighting an uphill battle.
In the impeachment battle, the most decisive factor is the public sentiment. Where it lies and how the legislators read it will be decisive. This was the case of the only impeachments in recent history–that of former president Erap Estrada and that of former Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez.
Unfortunately for CJ Corona, his widely-known attachment to the unpopular former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo–the accused in the increasing number of cases of electoral fraud and plunder–will work against him in his own impeachment case. He is an incidental casualty in the anti-corruption campaign of the Aquino Government. The struggle to impeach CJ Corona (and possibly other pro-GMA justices) is only a facet of the bigger battle to right the wrongs of the recent past and strengthen governance and, ultimately, the fragile Philippine democracy.
The move is of course risky and always in danger of derailment. However, the uncrowning of kings and queens is a necessary path to uphold the sovereignty of the people. So the history of medieval transition to modern democracy goes, so the transition to genuine democracy requires giving back the power to the people.
President Aquino now enjoys the unprecedented support from the people. He has their mandate and stands now on the threshold of history.