Vice President Jejomar C. Binay today warned against resorting to Constitutional shortcuts in the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona.
Speaking before the Foreign Correspondents’ Association of the Philippines January 19, Binay said the aborted impeachment of President Joseph Estrada and the subsequent administration of President Gloria Arroyo made the country realize that the shortcut of going to the streets was a “ruinous mistake.”
“If there is anything we could learn from that first impeachment trial, it is that we should not repeat any of its mistakes,” he added.
“It was wrong to have allowed enraged public opinion, rather than due process and the rule of law, to take control of the constitutional process, and to have allowed the impeachment trial to be aborted because of pressure from the streets.The fact that former president Estrada today appears to enjoy wider public support than former president Arroyo is further confirmation of that painful mistake,” Binay said.
“Thus, unless we see a serious breach in the proceedings, our common task is to lend to the Senate trial our attentive and respectful silence,” he advised.
He also related how the trial was not completed because the prosecution wanted to admit evidence volunteered by outside parties without a court subpoena and which was intended to prove a charge which majority of the senator-judges deemed was not in the original articles of impeachment.
“When the impeachment court refused to admit the “evidence,” the prosecutors walked out, and the issue was finally decided against Estrada by the fiercely anti-Estrada crowd at Edsa,” he said.
Binay said that one of the strengths of the Philippines is its democracy, which the country must capitalize on for it to fully harness its potential amid global political, economic and security upheavals.
He also said that democracy should be on its foremost agenda as the country seeks to fulfill the HSBC global research department’s forecast that the Philippines will be the 16th largest economy by 2050.
“We have to transmit to the future a working constitutional democracy that has permanently outlawed corruption not only by going after the corrupt but above all by eliminating bad laws and bad structures that had given corruption a nearly permanent refuge,” he said.
“But for democracy to work, we need democrats who will make its institutions work. Even as we meet here today, this thesis is being tested in the Senate, where the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona is taking place,” he added.
Binay stressed that the common objective of Filipinos should be in ensuring the observance of due process and rule of law, preserving democratic institutions, serving justice, standing united in supporting the just outcome of the process, and in moving forward.
“It is in our highest national interest that whatever the outcome of this impeachment trial, it should succeed as a fair and just constitutional process. That would define our maturity as a democracy and our right and fitness to forge ahead as an independent and sovereign state,” he concluded.