IT is the height of hypocrisy for the Liberal Party to complain that the judiciary is being undermined by officials from all branches of government who appear to be conspiring to oust Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.
Those who seek to oust Sereno, after all, seem to be following the play book of the Liberal Party six years ago, when its leader, President Benigno Aquino III, used the vast machinery of government—including the Justice department, the Finance department and even the supposedly independent Office of the Ombudsman—to go after Chief Justice Renato Corona with hammer and tongs, tarred and feathered and pilloried him in the press, then dangled millions of pesos in pork to “encourage” senators at his impeachment trial to find him guilty.
The late Senator Joker Arroyo, who as only one of three senators who voted to acquit Corona, accused the Aquino administration of “outright bribery, right at the presidential doorstep.”
In the end, the basis of Corona’s conviction was his failure to declare all his assets in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth, an omission that many legal experts at the time believed was not an impeachable offense. None of this mattered to the Liberal Party faithful at the time, however, because their single-minded mission—with Mr. Aquino pointing the way—was to oust a troublesome chief justice of the Supreme Court at all cost.
It is especially ironic that Mr. Aquino’s handpicked replacement for Chief Justice Corona is facing a similar fate today for the same offense for which her predecessor was convicted. Indeed, we can say that it was Mr. Aquino and his Liberal Party thugs who opened the door to the abuse of the impeachment process.
Of course, the impeachment case against Sereno has yet to play out to its conclusion. For Sereno’s sake, we hope this administration is not as vindictive as the one it replaced. That one hounded Corona with criminal cases even after his ouster, until his death from a heart attack in April 2016.
The Liberal Party members should remember this when they issue statements about “the executive and the legislative branches and some member of the Supreme Court ganging up” on Sereno “through the impeachment process and beyond the bounds of such [an] exercise.”
“Regrettably, what we are seeing is the slow weakening of judicial independence and dilution of check-and-balance that endangers democracy and ushers in the rule of autocracy,” the Liberal Party statement reads.
Predictably, the party fails to mention its own, special role in leading the country down this path. Perhaps it should shed its false modesty and give “credit” where it is due—at its own doorstep.