Not enough to pity Corona – Pangilinan
MANILA, Philippines – Yes, have mercy but exact accountability, too.
Sen Francis Pangilinan disagreed with the opinion of some of his colleagues that former Chief Justice Renato Corona should no longer be prosecuted after his removal from office.
In an exclusive interview with Rappler CEO and executive editor Maria Ressa on Friday, June 1, Pangilinan said the government must prosecute Corona if there is evidence against him. Watch the full interview here:
“If somebody violates the law, he has to account and in this case, if there is criminal liability, whether it’s the Chief Justice or whether it’s a lowly individual or government employees, they have to face the music.”
Pangilinan said he understood the sentiments of senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Edgardo Angara, and Jinggoy Estrada who said that the Aquino administration must “exercise compassion.”
“I think it’s part of the culture, the Philippine culture of non-confrontation that after we punish someone, the awa, the pity comes in,” said Pangilinan.
The Aquino ally and partymate stressed, however, that there are aspects of Philippine culture that must change.
“Precisely, if our culture punishes more, 80% of those who commit offenses are punished, then we wouldn’t be talking about this but because less than 20% of those cases end up in a conviction, then we are looking at the 80% who got away or who were not punished and therefore we say, ‘Kawawa naman (How pitiful).’"
Pangilinan was among 20 senators who voted to convict Corona on Tuesday, May 29, after a 4-month long impeachment trial.
No problem with waiver
The senator responded to the call for public officials to sign a waiver on their bank accounts, following Corona’s challenge and submission of his own waiver.
“I have no problems with signing the waiver,” Pangilinan replied to a question from Twitter.
He explained, though, that he agrees with the opinion of Enrile that the Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth already comes with a waiver that allows the Ombudsman to look into officials’ assets.
Pangilinan was also asked about President Benigno Aquino III’s refusal to sign a waiver, breaking a campaign promise.
“I only read it in the papers. I think it was not the President himself but one of the spokespersons [who said that].”
Aquino drew flak for refusing to sign a waiver, especially because he went on a public campaign to impeach and convict Corona.
The President had said Corona must be removed from office as part of efforts to promote transparency and accountability in government.
‘Ventilate selection of CJ’
Aquino has 90 days to name Corona’s replacement.
Pangilinan joined calls for the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) to make its selection process more open.
As former chairman of the Senate Justice Committee, Pangilinan was a member of the JBC. It was he who proposed in 2002 that the interviews of candidates be made accessible to the public.
He explained that the JBC used to hold the interviews behind closed doors to insulate the process from politics.
“Before the 1987 Constitution, judges had to go [through] the Commission on Appointments…and so to shield the judiciary from politics, they took it out of the CA, created the JBC and let the vetting take place in the JBC.”
Yet Pangilinan pointed out, “I think it was a swing to the extreme because then they started justifying everything in terms of shielding it from politics to make it confidential but I think there has to be a middle ground.”
Aside from public interviews of the candidates, Pangilinan calls on the JBC to open to the public its meetings, debates and voting to avoid speculation of jockeying and lobbying.
“When you open it up to the public then you somehow ventilate it publicly and [people] can formulate their own opinions on the basis of the information. But without the right information, they start saying, ‘Oh maybe someone paid somebody.’”
Pangilinan is also open to Aquino’s idea of appointing an outsider as the next chief justice.
“The JBC should draw as wide a net as possible. Yes, traditionally, you draw from the judiciary but you can also draw from the private sector, the academe. I want to see the best and the brightest in that list.”
The JBC will meet on Monday, June 4, to tackle the vacancy in the Supreme Court and to start the process of choosing Corona’s successor. – Rappler.com
In these changing times, courage and clarity become even more important.
Take discussions to the next level with Rappler PLUS — your platform for deeper insights, closer collaboration, and meaningful action.
Sign up today and access exclusive content, events, and workshops curated especially for those who crave clarity and collaboration in an intelligent, action-oriented community.
As a bonus, we’re also giving a free 1-year Booky Prime membership for the next 200 subscribers.
You can also support Rappler without a PLUS membership. Help us stay free and independent by making a donation: https://www.rappler.com/crowdfunding. Every contribution counts.