So, we arrived at last at the Show, er, the Philippine Senate convened as an impeachment court. Along the way, lost opportunities, false pretenses, showbiz posturings littered the way. A sideshow–even if it has the dynamics of its own–to the main political battle between the Aquino administration and the former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Even as the impeachment has legal rules and is mandated by the Constitution, yet it cannot be denied that it is essentially a political process. This is starkly underlined in the impeachment trial of SC Chief Justice Renato Corona. 23 senators, of whom only nine are lawyers, will decide whether he is still fit to serve as a justice of the Supreme Court.
All the 23 senators will decide on the basis of their individual appreciation of the evidence, sense of justice, and requirements of the position. Without admitting, all of them will have one eye on the public pulse–their national constituency–and on the political will of the Chief Executive. Of course, also without admitting it, they know they themselves and the Senate as an institution are also in trial.
Inevitably, the need to restore (or affirm, if the Corona camp is to be believed) the faith and trust in the impartiality, dignity and honor of the Supreme Court will become paramount. This suggests–even demands–that the decision will be political.
Again, this is not in the sense of partisan political alignments–though this will have its own influence. It is political because it addresses not the legal bases and ramifications of the process but the institutional and policy imperatives of democratic governance.
I think, at the end of the day, the senator-judges will realize that they have very few options–and all of these are political. Meanwhile, the Show will go on…