AT the risk of being presumptuous and pre-emptive, or worse, of surrendering to cockeyed optimism, by the middle of Benigno Aquino III’s term, we are hoping that by then the President will have cleansed at least one major institution of the corruption the previous administration has infected it with. To be specific, we are hoping Aquino will have appointed a Chief Justice who is truly independent and un-entangled in a Gordian political knot.
With the judiciary raised from the slime Gloria Arroyo has sunk it to, we will have taken as near-perfect a step as we possibly can toward restoring requisite faith in the justice system sorely needed in a quixotic crusade to right past wrongs.
The future perfect form places an action relative to a future reference point. In that, it assumes a virtual second “future tense” one predicating another. We resort to the future perfect if only to understate our multidimensional hope that in our little endeavor at the impeachment by the bay, we will succeed twice over.
Applied to our aspirations, by the time we start seriously prosecuting one who may perhaps be our largest fish, we would have achieved a predicate victory. The first is a clear path to reapplying justice on that institution we sorely need to believe in. The second is to see justice applied on one who had thoroughly thrashed it.
This cleansing is not a knee-jerk reaction to recent developments. The documents presented by the prosecution relate to anomalies occurring over a span of time. Moreover, the scuttlebutt linking Sen. Teofisto Guingona III wheeling-dealing a time-sharing deal for the position of Chief Justice is likewise incredible. As close as he is to Aquino, Guingona has no business interfering in such matters. Such compromises his responsibilities as a senator-judge.
As far back as last December, the President said, “In the case of a coequal branch, we want to strengthen the institution and provide a system of checks and balances. Getting a lapdog has never been part of a culture that exists in our family.”
Aquino’s graphic lapdog allusions go straight to the core of his crusade. Most of the Articles of Impeachment involve entanglement with the Executive Branch shown by bias or through a complex doggie-biscuit system indirectly benefiting members of a supposedly independent court.
On the virtual eve of the trial, there was loose talk that part of the Aquino agenda was to have an appointee rise from the current corps within the High Court and from there install a Chief Justice still preordained with a political agenda. This ignores Aquino’s earlier pronouncements where he declared in no uncertain terms, “There is no shortlist. I can assure everybody that the main criterion will not be that he should be a lapdog. At the end of the day, whoever I appoint, I will be able to look at our countrymen in the eye and tell them that he is the best.”
Given those criteria and the fears of many that a successor might have political strings attached, it is more likely that the next Chief Justice would come from outside the Supreme Court.
Let’s turn to a familiar friend for some simple, down-to-earth wisdom. With a tendency for verbal malapropisms, New York Yankees catcher Yogi Berra once said that the future is not what it used to be. As colloquial and homespun as that sounds, Berra’s cliché reverberates with deep and profound wisdom reflecting the kind of future perfect justice we seek and which Aquino is invariably pursuing on our account.
Indeed, we do not want a future judiciary populated by the default, old and crusty faces that we might have come to expect and fear. The appointment of the future Chief Justice should not at all be “what it used to be.” The future perfect justice is one where Aquino picks, not from a basket already infected by political nuances, but rather from the far leftfield, from the outside, from outside the box, off the beaten path, far and insulated from the range of political patronage and insidious conflicting entanglements we are slowly seeing in the ongoing impeachment trial.
Aquino, in choosing the next Chief Justice, will likely pick one from outside the usual suspects. He will pick an outsider and we pray he does.
In one event where Berra had again mangled the English language, he advised a friend on the directions to take on the way to his New Jersey home. Berra said, “when you come to a fork on the road, take it.” We did just that with Aquino in installing him to lead our charge against corruption and so far we are proud that, indeed, when we came to that point where the road forked, with Aquino we bravely took the unbeaten straight and narrow.
Republished with permission from Dean dela Paz.