Saturday, February 11, 2012

Corona and Why Former Chief Justices serve

Impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona was all emotional when he faced his supporters yesterday. He was photographed crying. Why?

Was he crying because the public knew that he has more than 21 million pesos worth of deposits in several accounts during his service in government? Was he crying because it would now be extremely hard for his defense counsels to justify where he actually got his millions? And was he worried that millions more would be discovered in several of his dollar accounts?

As Chief Justice, Corona is a public figure. Actually, he is not a mere government official. In the totem pole of power, Corona is actually third most powerful figure.

As a government official, Corona should have known early on that his life is now under the scrutiny of the public. The public wants to know if their leaders are as honest and as trustworthy and the only proof that they are, or they did not enrich themselves while in power was his personal bank accounts. 

Corona probably felt extremely naked when the prosecution offered those bank accounts as evidence of his violations of the Constitution. 

Corona always say that he is fighting for the institution. Who is he defending? 

Is he defending those who serve government because they see government as their personal treasure trove?

Is he defending those who get their income from illicit sources? Or is he defending the very rights of the ordinary citizen, as what he always claim in his public appearances?

If he so claims to defend the rights of the citizen, he must recognize that he is not a mere or "ordinary" citizen, oh no. 

He holds the third powerful post in the land, a position that would make or break a career, a position that would destroy or sustain life and a post that literally determines the futures of 90 million Filipinos.

As such, Corona must realize that with great power comes great responsibility. This power is being reposed on him by the People, because the People believed in his capability and that his motivations for being the Chief Justice are not because he now stands to gain millions from it, oh no, but the very prestige of his name now being marked in his country's history.

His predecessors aspired for the post because of bragging rights--imagine being the top man in a profession where millions aspire to become a member. IMagine being heaped praises for your erudition? And imagine heading one of the three branches of a government of 90 million souls? 

That is the difference between those who served us decades ago and those who serve us now.

What motivates someone to aspire for a Congressional post? That 70 million pesos given to each and every legislator every single year.

What motivates a Senator to become one? That 300 plus million pesos given to each and every Senator every single year for him to dispose as he wishes.

What motivates a President to aspire to be one? Those billions of pesos worth of intelligence funds and the power to appoint his friends in positions of power, which is equivalent to at least half of the year's annual budget.

Gone are the days when someone aspires to serve government because it is a lofty and honorable thing to do.