Does P-Noy really want to control the judiciary?
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2012-06-26
The opinions that we read in mainstream and social media on how the new Chief Justice (CJ) of the Supreme Court (SC) should be selected are encouraging signs that people are now involved in the third branch of government. This level of enthusiasm is healthy for our democracy. More Filipinos should really take an active role in observing and rating the affairs and the operations of the judiciary.

It’s therefore important that we’re all on the same page in arriving at a consensus as to who should sit as our new CJ. If 90 million or so of us have 90 million different criteria for selecting our new CJ, we will only end up with more problems that will foment disunity and inevitably — social conflict.

President Noynoy Aquino (P-Noy) deserves the benefit of the doubt that his actions regarding the SC are neither personally nor politically motivated, as his critics are trying to paint. We elected P-Noy because we shared his vision of DAANG MATUWID (straight path) for our country. To be fair, he hasn’t veered from the quest for DAANG MATUWID. His sense of mission remains intense and steadfast.

When P-Noy opted to impeach then CJ Renato C. Corona, it was because he saw that there could be no DAANG MATUWID with Corona heading the SC. It’s now incumbent on P-Noy to ensure that the next CJ would deliver the hopes and aspirations of the country for a reformed judiciary. In the mind of P-Noy, the next CJ must not just be an enlightened jurist but must be equipped with CEO abilities and imbued with a crusader’s heart. This is what makes the choice for the new CJ very difficult for P-Noy and we Filipinos must support our president in this endeavor if we share his aspirations for fair decisions and speedier trials.

Shysters in media are misleading Filipinos. They’re working for vested interests that make it a lucrative practice to derail good programs of government when these become detrimental to their goals. Theirs is not a mission of providing enlightenment but a misinformation and disinformation psychological warfare operation. What complicates the problem of a public kept in the dark is the presence of the dedicated journalists who don’t see the big picture and likewise submit inaccurate reports that fail to fully enlighten.

The media shysters will translate political will to implement judiciary reforms as signs of autocratic tendencies. You see, the autocrat and the reformer are both focused and passionate in their endeavors but they differ in their objectives. The autocrat wants more power, as if it had become an irresistible illegal drug addiction. The reformer wants to attain positive changes in society for everybody to benefit from.

The media shysters are saying that P-Noy wants to control the judiciary but the truth is P-Noy only wants to return the judiciary back to the Filipino people by instituting reforms that will make it operate with utmost transparency, faster trials and just decisions that are based on the spirit and letter of the law. His objective is not a judiciary that’s beholden to him but a judiciary that’s accountable to the people.

To its credit, the new SC under Acting CJ Tony Carpio has started embarking on the first few steps towards a reformed judiciary. The SC decision to disclose all the SALNs (Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth) of the Justices was a dramatic contrast to the secrecy of the previous SC administration.
In the case of P-Noy, he certainly has better things to do than get into a high-level power struggle with the ousted CJ. However, his DAANG MATUWUD cannot be paved unless a reformed SC has evolved. P-Noy was alarmed that the SC — at least the 8 who always voted as a Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) bloc — had become a witting protective cocoon for those who have abused power.

Not only was the judiciary an impediment to paving DAANG MATUWID — it was also an impediment to attracting investors who find unpredictable court rulings a big turn off. Investors want predictability and an unpredictable judiciary is more than enough to drive them away.

Another overlooked quality that’s desired in the new CJ is the ability to manage. A CJ with only a mastery of laws but possesses little managerial ability cannot be expected to administer the judiciary. Associate Justices can thrive with just a mastery of the laws of the land and need not have management expertise. It’s not quite the same with a CJ. Managing the SC as well as policing the lower courts is a big nationwide undertaking that can easily overwhelm a CJ that’s deficient in management skills. Maybe that’s why there has been little progress in improving the judiciary — we’ve had CJs with little managerial abilities to accomplish the task.

It’s mandated that the next CJ must be a person of exemplary probity and integrity. Recent historic events and our posterity would demand nothing less.

The judiciary should be among the most appreciative of these efforts of P-Noy to bring them back to the people. We cannot have a properly functioning democracy if a major third branch of government is isolated from their bosses — the Filipino people.

* * *

Shakespeare: “Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.”

  Previous Columns:

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Election lawyer: PCOS critics should put up or shut up

All Excited by Pope Francis

A great disservice to P-Noy

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