It came to my attention that an online petition against Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, addressed to the International Criminal Court in the Netherlands, asking for Senator Santiago’s ouster as an ICC judge, has been launched recently. The said action seemed to have been propelled by an ‘incident‘ (which transpired) during Day 26 of Chief Justice Renato Corona’s ongoing impeachment trial.
The petition (and a counter petition that followed) can be viewed as a sign of stronger citizen’s engagement and responsiveness to current events and social issues. It further supports the notion that these days, Filipinos are becoming more and more politically engaged. That, to me, is ‘good news’.
The thing is, after much consideration, I don’t see myself supporting the said petition. There’s always a possibility of reconsideration though, if it can be proven that Senator Santiago’s actions on that fateful day has been without basis.
After watching the video of impeachment trial (Day 26), I’d say that the way she addressed some members of the prosecution panel wasn’t unfounded nor was it unreasonable or whimsical. I am more inclined to believe that her outburst was her ‘reaction’ to the manner in which the prosecution presented their case (which I think, didn’t even came close to being satisfactory). The esteemed lady senator has always been characterized as forthright, outspoken person – with a quick temper at that. It wasn’t surprising that she was construed as being ‘verbally disrespectful’ – considering that not everyone can relate to the kind person that she is.
On the issues of ‘respectability’ , (legal) ethics, etc., surrounding the impeachment trial, it would be unwise to focus on Senator Santiago alone; all other entities/actors/participants involved in the impeachment proceedings i.e. other senator-judges, members of both prosecution/defense panels, etc., should be ‘ethically scrutinize’ as well.
It is pertinent that we look into the overall picture (especially the underlying issues beneath the surface, so to speak), and we must avoid simplistic notions and assessments because the impeachment proceedings and everything else connected with it was far from simple. We should be careful not to commit ‘unethical’ blunder with our judgments – which may happen if view the incident with a very limited or myopic scope; such would inadvertently hid other pertinent matters surrounding the Senator’s ‘outburst incident’.
Senator Santiago might have had ‘offended’ the sensibilities of Atty. Aguirre (and other members of the prosecution panel) – and I am offended as well. I, as a Filipino citizen, immensely take offense with the kind of ‘service’ we are getting from our elected government officials; specifically, the lousy job done by the 188 members of the House of Representatives who didn’t do a ‘solid-enough’ work in preparing the articles of impeachment against the Chief Justice, and the poor quality of representation we (the people) are getting courtesy of the prosecution panel.
At this point of the impeachment trial, I would not hesitate to point my finger to the 188 signatories (members of the House of Representatives) and the prosecution panel as to who are the guilty ones re: display of disrespect, unethical stance. The way I see it, they have been guilty of such from day one. The consistent display of incompetence by the prosecution panel while presenting their witnesses & conducting direct examination, how lousy the article of impeachment was crafted, the relevance (or otherwise) & ‘quality’ of evidences presented, poor overall presentation of the prosecution, etc., are much more serious forms of ‘disrespect ‘as compared to the ‘predictable outburst’ of Senator Santiago. More than anything else, such display of arrogance/incompetence/ is a grave insult even – not only to the impeachment court, not only to the impeachment process itself, but more so to the Filipino people as a whole.
- Atty Vitaliano Aguirre vs Sen Miriam Defensor Santiago (arkhilario.com)
- “Truth Hurts” (What Filipinos Should Hear About Aguirre) (opinionhub.wordpress.com)
- Prosecutors Rest Case in Bid to Remove Chief Justice of Philippines – New York Times (nytimes.com)
- Grounds to Impeach Corona (socyberty.com)
- Will Senator Santiago Go To Hell? (opinionhub.wordpress.com)