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EAGLE EYES – Dean Tony La Viña 17 January 2012, Manila Standard Today Pandora’s Jar Zeus was furious

when Prometheus, the titan, stole fire from the heavens and gave it to the mortals. The god’s fury for this sacrilege was implacable such that he gifted Epimetheus, the brother of Prometheus, with the beautiful and gifted Pandora, known in Greek mythology as the first woman on earth. But there is a catch: together with Pandora was an earthen jar (for some reason, most of us call it Pandora’s Box) which she was not to open under any circumstances. Piqued by curiosity, Pandora nevertheless opened the jar – and lo and behold – all evil it contained escaped and spread throughout the earth. Riding over the crest of enormous popular support President Aquino pledged to run after public officials during the last administration who are guilty of corruption and other chicanery in public office. Many construed this as referring to former president Arroyo who even during her term of office was plagued by charges of electoral fraud and other anomalies. In the mind of the public, Mrs. Arroyo lied, stole and cheated. For President Aquino, she is indeed Prometheus incarnate. Much like Prometheus who was bound to a rock while a great eagle ate his liver every day only to have it grow back to be eaten again the next day, Mrs. Arroyo is now detained – bound, if you must – in a hospital awaiting her fate in the hands of the courts. We are now all too familiar with Mrs. Arroyo’s attempts to leave the country which was thwarted by the Aquino government, in particular by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, the TRO issued by the Supreme Court, the faster than lightning issuance by the COMELEC of a resolution approving the filing of a case for electoral sabotage against her, the equally fast issuance by the court of a warrant of arrest and now the breakneck impeachment of the Chief Justice. All these, inconsistent with the normal experience of the Philippine justice system, were accomplished in record time. The whirlwind incarceration and indictment of Arroyo and the resultant impeachment of Chief Justice promise to stay at the forefront of the present administration’s major concerns in the foreseeable future. While the administration is downplaying its political and economic effects, many believe that the executive and the judiciary have effectively locked horns portending havoc in inter-institutional harmony and potentially causing political divisiveness and economic instability in the country . The impeachment trial of the Chief Justice will hug the headlines for a long time. Impeachment is often described as a political process. This is precisely the reason why the allies of this administration in Congress were able to muster enough votes to impeach the CJ. In effect, as is often said, it is a numbers game. Impeachment is neither criminal nor civil in nature; hence, it is sui generis, a class by itself. It takes the place of administrative disciplinary proceedings against impeachable officers because, under the Constitution, there is no other authority that can administratively discipline impeachable officers. The power of impeachment is a way of checking certain officials of government who having been elected or appointed in office for a fixed term. As such they enjoy security of tenure to insulate them from the vagaries of political conditions and to

I must caution though that the process being political does not mean it is partisan or that it is arbitrary and unjust. and the perspective of the independent observer. Fortunately. In this sense. after realizing the gravity of what she has done. I expect the prosecutors from the House to behave with decorum and dignity. Impeachment may be a political process which may at times be divisive yet it is a constitutionally recognized process of accountability. Did Chief Justice Corona play Epimetheus. we are in for a lot of trouble. who would do everything to protect his kin? Is the impeachment the Pandora’s jar that will unleash all sorts of troubles for this country as the naysayers and doomsayers are often singing nowadays? As for me. most people see Chief Justice Corona’s impeachment as a simple case of accountability. The consequences for the future are unimaginable under this scenario. it is not seen as a dispute between the two co-equal institutions that the two officials represent. Pandora. he is too beholden to decide against her. But it was too late because the jar was emptied of its contents except one that . Corona himself stated that while he is willing to submit to the impeachment trial. hastened to close the lid of the jar. it is good for the nation. It is simply one man being hailed by the judges-senators to answer some serious charges. Chief Justice Corona is being charged for betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the Constitution spurred by the belief of the President and the House of Representatives that he (Corona) has consistently shown in his decisions partiality towards the former president. that. With the Senate trial of Chief Justice Corona beginning yesterday. caution. My public position on Corona appointment as Chief Justice has always been that it is unconstitutional and I continue to believe this is the case while recognizing that the Supreme Court had affirmed its validity. While there may be clashing personalities involved. as I have written elsewhere. I will not take sides regardless of my personal feelings. In short. because of his long association with his former boss. Some portray the impeachment as a collision between the great branches of government – the executive. the brother of Prometheus. The solution prescribed by the Constitution to arrest governmental abuse committed by these specified government officials is impeachment. serious concerns has been raised about its impact on the political and economic stability of the nation. I intend to approach the impeachment trial with sobriety. In our Greek story. But this is not to grant them carte blanche authority to exercise their power whimsically and capriciously. Even as they cannot be removed from office by ordinary means. the perception is that the Chief Justice can no longer perform his duties as a magistrate with impartiality and independence. equating it to a creeping dictatorship.ensure that they are able to perform their functions efficiently and without undue interruption. the legislative and the judicial. Imagine if the judiciary can no longer function with impartiality because it perceives the executive as an enemy or worst because it is under the influence or afraid of the President or of Congress. I have high hopes that the Senator-Judges will be fair and decide on the basis of evidence and what is good for the country. If this is true. he believes his impeachment is nonetheless a virulent assault on the integrity and independence of the judiciary as an institution. they still have the duty to uphold the public trust. Twitter: tonylavs . we can only hope that the incoming trials would not unleash the evils of Pandora’s Jar but instead transform this nation into a strong Facebook: tlavina@yahoo. Email: Tonylavs@gmail.Hope.remained at the bottom which is .