Karma
FROM A DISTANCE - Carmen N. Pedrosa (The Philippine Star) - April 15, 2018 - 12:00am

There is no more apt word for the removal of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno than the Buddhist-Hinduist word Karma.  

But the blame must not stop with her. The entire Senate (except three) who convicted Renato Corona must also take the blame. They are silent now, hiding behind their power as senators but we, too will have to take responsibility for the trial of former Chief Justice Corona. It was so mean and cruel but the general public closed their eyes and allowed a demented president to do whatever he wanted through lies and intimidation. Bribery was Aquino’s instrument. That is why I think the trial of Sereno must go deeper and cite the behavior of the Senate during Corona’s trial. 

I was in the house of Sen. Loren Legarda when the Senate conspiracy against Corona was planned and decided. I heard Legarda talking on the telephone with Senator Enrile who said the Senate decision must be unanimous or at least near unanimous. Enrile was right. The senators were able to overwhelm the public with their “unanimous vote” even if the senators said exactly nothing.

 I was in Senator Legarda’s Forbes Park house because she wanted to show off on how well she has made in her life as senator. After the Japanese dinner, she said I must not reveal anything I heard and saw that night. There were two others who were at the Legarda house. Unfortunately, the story did come out. As the senators took turns giving their reasons to convict him, it never left me that this was a conspiracy.

For me the most precious lesson I learned when President Benigno Aquino III used all the powers of the presidency to convict Corona was to discover Emile Zola, the French writer who sacrificed a career and a lifetime to defend Dreyfus, a Jew, who was falsely accused by the lies of military officials. I have gathered excerpts from the many columns I wrote in 2012.

“Were it not for the names, the country and the date, the story of Emile Zola’s campaign for a just trial for Dreyfus is as contemporaneous as the story of Corona’s conviction in the Philippines circa 2012.

I was with my friend former Antique governor Sally Zaldivar when I attended every day of the trial. On one such day she gave me a disk of the movie of the most important trial in history “J’accuse” which was about the letter he wrote to the President of France and to tell him why it was wrong. 

“If you shut up truth and bury it under the ground, it will but grow, and gather to itself such explosive power that the day it bursts through it will blow up everything in its way,” Emile Zola said. Some Filipino government officials led by President Aquino attempted to do just that but in time the chief justice had his revenge. The truth about how bribes were paid out to the senators who voted for his conviction was revealed. Or as Emile Zola would say, the truth ultimately blew up. The so-called DAP and PDAF blew up in their faces.

Congress was equally to blame. Congressman Toby Tiangco told me how Congress came to cast the votes to send it to the Senate where the trial and conviction would take place. He remembered how 188 congressmen rushed through the articles of impeachment in three hours without bothering to read it while others went along but did not sign. It was unconstitutional from the start. It was a portent of the kind of trial that would take place.

Yes, there are media people who saw all this but only a few dared to write about it. 

Fighting corruption by breaking the law is simply not the way to go. As a reviewer of Emile Zola’s “J’accuse” said, when you break the law to correct flaws in a nation, you break the nation. This is my humble opinion.

It took 12 years to unravel the truth on just what happened to Dreyfus in 1894 in France, but the author Emile Zola dared and made a just trial for all his cause.

Perhaps, we should even go further in reviewing the conviction of Renato Corona. Days after his conviction, President Aquino was on his way to the United States. He was praised for a job well done by President Obama.

“Aquino recently won a major battle in his campaign against corruption with the sacking of the country’s top judge. Aquino also agreed to let more US troops rotate – but not be based – in the Philippines despite the historical baggage,” President Obama said in welcoming him.

“I’ve always found President Aquino to be a thoughtful and very helpful partner,” Obama added.

“And I think that as a consequence of the meeting today in which we discussed not only military and economic issues, but also regional issues – for example, trying to make sure that we have a strong set of international norms and rules governing maritime disputes in the region – that I’m very confident that we’re going to see continued friendship and strong cooperation between our two countries.” 

Why?

Emile Zola’s letter to the President of the French Republic ended thus:

“I have but one passion: to enlighten those who have been kept in the dark, in the name of humanity which has suffered so much and is entitled to happiness. My fiery protest is simply the cry of my very soul. Let them dare, then, to bring me before a court of law and let the enquiry take place in broad daylight! I am waiting.”

The letter was written in 1898 in France but it has since become a template for the rule of law and justice.

Days after Corona’s conviction, President Aquino was on his way to the United States. He was praised for a job well done by President Obama.

“Aquino recently won a major battle in his campaign against corruption with the sacking of the country’s top judge. Aquino also agreed to let more US troops rotate – but not be based – in the Philippines despite the historical baggage,” President Obama said in welcoming him.

“I’ve always found President Aquino to be a thoughtful and very helpful partner,” Obama added.

“And I think that as a consequence of the meeting today in which we discussed not only military and economic issues, but also regional issues – for example, trying to make sure that we have a strong set of international norms and rules governing maritime disputes in the region – that I’m very confident that we’re going to see continued friendship and strong cooperation between our two countries.”

BRIBERY KARMA MARIA LOURDES SERENO
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