As we enter the season of Lent, I thought it befitting to highlight a biblical parable as it relates to the ongoing trial of Chief Justice Corona.
The story is found in the Gospel of St John (the Beloved). It talks of the need to temper justice with mercy. The Pharisees and scribes who were in those days keepers of the Jewish law much in the same way that imams and qadis are in charge of Sharia law presented a woman caught in the act of adultery to Jesus.
According to the Torah (the Law of Moses), she was to be stoned to death, so they were hoping to test Jesus by asking him what was to be done to her. His reply to the stone wielding lynch mob assembled awaiting his judgement was “him who is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone.” The message of the parable is for us not to be quick to condemn others when one is not blameless too.
To those seeking to crucify the chief justice based on his failure to file accurately his SALN (statement of assets, liabilities and net worth), we can perhaps paraphrase the bible by saying, “he who is without a falsified SALN (or an undervalued tax declaration), let him cast the first vote”.
One wonders using the same “if you’ve got nothing to hide, then bear it” argument how many congressmen and senators would be able to bear the same level of scrutiny that CJ Corona has had to bear. It appears that even the president had to revalue his assets upwards several times over in his latest SALN because what he declared previously was incredibly small.
As the prosecution team sought to present evidence that Corona had accepted gifts from a litigant in a case before the high court, a similar allegation was being laid at the feet of an official close to the president involved in the government’s gaming corporation. By the way, the palace justified the acceptance of these gifts as “standard practice” in the industry or as “cost-saving” measures. By that they hopefully didn’t mean the government intended to charge the trips made by wives, children and nannies in the first instance. Meanwhile an ex-senator and cabinet secretary noted they too received the same perks from the firm involved in the chief justice’s case.
On top of all this, it seems that in acquiring evidence to convict Corona for unexplained liquid assets that several laws may have been violated or that branches of the government were illegally used to undertake a hatchet job on the president’s political foe since 2010. This follows from the testimonies of bank officials who were audited by the same public agencies. It appears then that those who present such evidence to convict the Chief Justice for disregarding the rule of law may have been guilty of doing the same themselves.
“That may be so,” supporters of the impeachment case may say, “but it shouldn’t detract from the fact that Corona is guilty.” They who plead with the jurors to go beyond the letter of the law and convict him based on some higher principle of justice should in their haste to pass judgement reflect on whether they too would be able to pass the standards they have set for their enemies.
They can’t have it both ways. They can’t justify similar offenses committed by people on their side of the fence while throwing the book at those on the opposite side. They need to straighten their crooked halos a bit and think of the implications of their statements. Otherwise the public may grow weary of their double-speak.
“Judge not, that you may not be judged,” goes another biblical passage.
A few years down the track it may be their turn to suffer the same intrusion of privacy and scrutiny. So in the interests of justice and fairness, it would be best to either apply the same standard and level of scrutiny to all or none at all. That is what the term ‘equal treatment under the law’ means. Either that or we show mercy in this instance and charge everyone involved to “go and sin no more”.