The impeachment aftermath

John Patrick Allanegui
This case against Corona has taught us that the norms we value can be subtly altered when we allow ourselves to be governed by people who behave in ways we deem unacceptable in the first place

John Patrick AllaneguiThe series of events that transpire inside the impeachment court do not happen on a whim.

The scenes had been repeating themselves in an almost endless cycle for 44 days: witnesses called in; politicians and lawyers doing the talking; the senate-president listening and occasionally banging his gavel with confidence; reporters and photojournalists scribbling on thick notepads and working on heavy cameras.

As these events unfolded with a twist of spontaneity, a whole nation was automatically glued to televisions, news tweets, and Facebook status messages.

The impeachment trial indeed had some elements of a classic telenovela – heartfelt drama, striking rhetoric, viewers rooting for their own stars. Tuesday, May 29, marked the season finale of the impeachment trial of Renato Corona as the online community baptized the final episode, “Acquit or Convict?”

20-3. For the people who had endlessly sought the conviction of Corona, the three digits mirror victory, given the impeachment court’s final verdict. For them, ousting Corona is the clearest way to fight corruption and public figures who prefer secrecy over transparency.

For those on the side of the defense, the numbers 20 and 3 will always symbolize defeat for judicial independence and the protection of the Constitution.

“This is history in the making,” many had said. But post-impeachment, where do we locate ourselves as stakeholders?

We have a handful of reasons to believe that we, as citizens, do not have to concern ourselves with a disgraceful issue. When I was extremely busy, I tended to hold that same belief as well. But landmark events such as this will always have implications we need to be mindful of.

Lessons

This case against Corona has taught us that the norms we value can be subtly altered when we allow ourselves to be governed by people who behave in ways we deem unacceptable in the first place. For instance, our usual norm against corruption in government can be distorted when we become accepting of men and women who embezzle, bribe, and who resort to graft.

The conviction of Corona has probably now stabilized our norms and views on transparency and accountability in the public space. The decision to conclusively remove him sends the message that in spite of all the criticisms of government, there are still some people who give importance to transparency because they believe that public office is indeed a public trust.

Some might strongly disagree and raise eyebrows because of the belief that the politicians who brought down Corona from his throne are hypocritical, to say the least. But it is crucial for us to be aware of how these people have rationalized their decisions by sticking to the norm of honesty in government. These politicians have reiterated the norms in public office, consequently redefining government as a place where they can be accused of corruption for not properly disclosing their Statement of Assets Liabilities and Net Worth.

I personally do not know the man named Renato Corona. Like most of us, we do not know his character as an ordinary man without the respectable outfit and powerful gavel. We do not know enough to judge his morality, simplicity, and innocence he kept on talking about during his own trial. I believe this part of the story reiterates the fact that power resides in the position, not in the person.

Perhaps once upon a time, he was indeed a man of principle – a man who earned his spot in politics, became overwhelmed by the system, used his power to interpret the law according to his own eyes and justify it to hide wealth and keep some secrets from the public.

Now that his power has been stripped off, he becomes that ordinary man once again. The challenge to prove his moral standards and simplicity in life as a common citizen will forever haunt him.

The impeachment trial makes us realize that the real moral standards of a man become clearer when he chooses not to put himself in a position to bend laws and truths.

The aftermath

The impeachment trial is over and the ordinary Filipino moves on with either relief or bitterness in his or her heart. In the coming days, Corona’s name doesn’t have to occupy every newspaper’s front page.

The trial tells the story of one man and an affected nation. Renato Corona has the right to privacy in his personal life, but he should have been aware that his position calls him to be transparent. He has the right and capability to possess money, but he has probably forgotten that he performs his duty as a public servant in a world where betrayal of public trust is being linked to the failure to disclose resources to the people.

The impeachment trial has been branded as the most recent spectacle of Philippine politics. True enough, people have been entertained and disturbed by the sight of politicians defending and attacking one another with weapons in the form of words.

The trial was history in the making. And history it now certainly is. We must not dwell on it too much because at the end of the day, our true strength as a nation is only measured by how we learn from it and move on. – Rappler.com


John Patrick Allanegui is currently pursuing his master’s degree at the Ateneo de Manila University. He manages his own blog called The Social Pitch (http://social-pitch.com).

 

 

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