As the impeachment trial of Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona continues on its fourth week, a number of thoughts come to mind.
One is the lack of preparation by the prosecution for the trial. I'm inclined to agree with those who believe that the House members leading the charge on the impeachment thought that they could force a resignation from Corona before the whole trial started. Unfortunately for them, Corona decided to dig in and fight, and now the House prosecutors are scrambling to get their act together, with little success, despite some rah-rah sound bites from Presidential spokespersons.
Second, while the defense, ably led by former Supreme Court Associate Justice Serafin Cuevas, has managed to score points on the prosecution's ineptitude, the defense attorneys have resorted to treating the impeachment trial as a court trial, and have used a number of legal-style tactics to stymie the prosecution. While these are legal and proper, it also gives the impression that Corona's defense hinges on the technicalities rather than the actual innocence of the person. The defense conveniently forgets that impeachment is a political, rather than purely legal, process, and their attempts to prevent evidence to be presented, or attempts to have some of the Senator-Judges to inhibit themselves (well, Senator Drilon, anyway) may raise more questions about their client's innocence than end them.
Third, I'm wondering how valid the argument that the impeachment trial is connected to the Supreme Court's decision on Hacienda Luisita is. It cannot be denied that the Cojuangco clan, of which the President is a member, stands to lose much if the plantation land, a whopping 6,474 hectares, is redistributed to its tenants, although the clan may gain much, depending on how much the land is valued to be worth (some have estimated it to be P5 billion.). Last year, the Supreme Court decided that the Hacienda Luisita stock distribution scheme was not valid, and ordered that 4,915 hectares of the land should be given to the tenants. There are a number of points raised about the Hacienda Luisita connection, but I think I'll take a look at it in another post.
Fourth, so far, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile has managed to keep an even keel on the proceedings, making sure that due process will be followed. Even at his advanced age (87), his mind is still sharp on legal matters, and has shown that, whatever the result, the trial will be done as fairly and as impartially as possible. For that, he has my kudos.
Fifth, and last, like the impeachment trial of Joseph Estrada, this current trial is pivotal to the political education of our countrymen. Like Estrada's trial, many are glued to their radios, televisions, or live streams, as they follow the twists and turns of the current trial. As a result, we have become more informed as a people, and, hopefully, we become more mature in the way we treat our political processes.