With 25 congressmen endorsing the complaint, Maria Lourdes Sereno appears to be in danger of becoming the second chief justice to be impeached.
In this country, the impeachment process is largely political. The approval of only a third of the House of Representatives is needed to send the complaint to the Senate for trial, and the so-called super majority has the numbers. But if the super majority wants the impeachment to prosper and lead to Sereno’s ouster, the case must be backed by solid evidence of wrongdoing.
In attempting to remove a chief justice for the second time, the proponents must also present a strong case to the nation that the larger objective is to improve the administration of justice. The nation’s justice system is not just maddeningly snail-paced but also hobbled by corruption and incompetence, thanks to the political accommodation that is often the overriding concern in the appointment and promotion of members of the judiciary and prosecution service.
The weakness of the justice system is one of the biggest reasons for public acquiescence if not open support for the continuing killings in the war on illegal drugs. It can take two decades before a case is resolved with finality. When the government resorts to short cuts in law enforcement, people look the other way.
Impunity also stems from the weakness of the justice system. Because certain individuals believe they can literally get away with murder, journalists, militant activists and environmental advocates continue to be killed with impunity.
Even the war on corruption has been derailed. In recent months, the courts have dismissed cases filed by the Office of the Ombudsman against several former and incumbent officials indicted in connection with the pork barrel scam and other corruption scandals. The reason cited was the inordinate delay in filing the cases in court.
The weakness of Philippine justice is glaring in the fact that the nation has failed to send behind bars anyone involved in large-scale corruption since the Marcos dictatorship. Joseph Estrada was convicted of plunder for acts committed when he was president, but he was immediately given absolute pardon by his successor, who herself was accused of corruption. Both are back in government, like the Marcoses.
The long wait for justice is itself an injustice. Beyond impeaching a chief justice, the nation urgently needs a credible justice system and the rule of law.
OTHER MANILA NEWSPAPER EDITORIALS-OPINIONS:
1. Karma is unforgiving – D.Tribune
2. A federal Philippines (III) – M.Bulletine
3. Jovie is coming – M.Standard.
4. MARCOS GOLD – M. Times
5. Taguba’s turnaround-Philippine Daily Inquirer
6. Beyond impeachment- Philstar