He who is without a false SALN, let him cast the first vote

image credit: truthbook.com

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”.

Doy Santos aka The Cusp

Doy Santos is an international development consultant who shuttles between Australia and the Philippines. He maintains a blog called The Cusp: A discussion of new thinking, new schools of thought and fresh ideas on public policy (www.thecusponline.org) and tweets as @thecusponline. He holds a Master in Development Economics from the University of the Philippines and an MS in Public Policy from Carnegie Mellon University.


  • baycas

    Doy, kindly google

    Ethics Alarms Unethical Rationalizations and Misconceptions

    And please read the first link.

    Thanks!

    • baycas

      “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone” (John 8: 7,10,11) is frequently used to support the contention that only those who are perfect, that is, saints, are qualified to condemn the behavior of others. This use of the Bible passage illustrated the insidious nature of using famous phrases divorced from their contexts. The quote is from the tale of the adulteress, in which Jesus admonishes a crowd preparing to stone an adulteress, and exhorts her to “go and sin no more.” It is a story about redemption, a caution against hypocrisy, and an extension of the Golden Rule, as Jesus is calling for sympathy and empathy rather than righteous anger.”

    • baycas

      Furthermore…

      “One must also remember that stoning was a life-threatening ritual in Biblical times. Like many metaphorical passages in the Bible, this metaphor can be carried too far, and has been. There is a big difference between participating in the physical wounding of an individual when one has been guilty of similar failings, and simply disapproving such conduct and calling for appropriate punishment. Interpreting the passage to mean that nobody can ever be punished or admonished for ethical misconduct except by the ethically pure is simply a cynical justification for a universal lack of accountability and responsibility.”

      • GabbyD

        baycas, it depends on what the appropriate punishment is. if calling for stoning is appropriate, then there is no difference (to society) between supporting stoning and doing the deed yourself.

  • baycas

    Naku! Gasgas na ‘yan. Peanut butter approach ka naman, Doy.

  • Anonymous

    The days are long gone where one challenges someone from the madlang-people to be first to throw the stone.   You could ask the “first to throw the stone” from  a group who kind of follow and where parliamentary procedures creates a more producctive environment for their day job,    but then there is Conrado de Quiros who continually stokes the embers.   People Power!!!  He yells.

    The days are long gone where one challenges someone from the madlang-people to be first to throw the stone.  The objective is EDSA-dos –> to get a crowd, to get a first-thrower, and then there would be –gold– honor and bountiful applause for the taking. The power move is to congregate a large crowd ( the more the merrier. “More” increases the odds of a stone-thrower, which you can ensure happens by —gifts-of-inducement– a promise of recognition and support like say, for in the next elections!) PersidenteNoynoy knows this and Persidente Noynoy — 188 signatures — has made it happen. Made-up evidence or unsubstantiated claims??? Hey…. that’s entertainment, can stoke up the crowd… a common practice for selling shoes!!! PersiDente Noynoy knows this.    Of course, persiDente Noynoy knows this. He, too, knows the law as Pilipinas laws should be written.  Hooray for persiDente Noynoy and his words of wisdom — :
    Will Juan and Juana de la Cruz allow themselves to be shut out
    of this process? Will we allow a select few to decide the fate of all?

  • GabbyD

    ah, this is my favorite gospel story! its so subtle yet full of meaning. let me counter-argue:

    1) the context of the story is that the pharisees have caught the woman breaking a law; its a given fact that she is guilty. this is confirmed. now the idea is the pharasees strictly interpret the law and ask that the letter of the law be followed. take note that mosaic law can be crazy detailed.

    now the same cannot be said here. no one has accused the prosec of being experts on technicalities. in fact, the charges in the case are incredibly vague. breach of public trust? what is that? 

    compare that to adultery — an act which is exceedingly clear.

    if anything, the prosec is interested more in the spirit of the law (as they see it), than the letter.

    2) when everyone left jesus and the adulterer alone, she forgives her and says “sin no more”. this bolsters the notion that she was indeed guilty, knows shes guilty, sought forgivenes, and recieved it.

    hence, a necessary component of the story of mercy is one has to WANT IT and desires forgiveness.

    neither condition applies to CJ corona. he insists he’s not guilty.

    beyond 1) and 2), this is an extremely interesting passage! 

  • Manuelbuencamino

    Doy, 

    Everyone is a sinner. So what are cops, prosecutors, judges, and jailers, are they exempted from your “he who is without sin cast the first stone” rule?
    Everyone is a sinner. We allow sinners to police and judge fellow sinners so the more realistic rule must be “don’t get caught”. Everyone is a sinner so if you get caught sinning don’t cry like a baby saying “I’m not the only one” because you are the only one. The only one stupid enough to get caught by  fellow sinners who need to tar and feather someone like you once in a while so they can feel good about themselves. Oops sorry about the tar and feather. Since we are getting biblical, permit me to substitute tar and feather with sacrificial lamb. Corona is like Jesus, he is being crucified so that all the sins of mankind will be forgiven. Corona is the savior of mankind. OK na ba to impeach him or do you want Noynoy to take his place? 

    • GabbyD

      ah, so this is another reason why this passage is so interesting. does it say anything about jesus’s attitude toward crime and punishment?

      1) why did jesus/the gospel writers choose ADULTERY as the test case. why not murder? or theft, all of which are heavily punished, and featured in several gospel stories. 

      is adultery different from other kinds of crime? 

      2) note that jesus himself never objected to the idea of judgement and justice. when not preaching about this life, he reminds everyone of the (harsh) judgement to come. 

      also note that he doesnt object to justice in the here and now. note that he never says to the romans ” i think the death penalty is barbaric”. he also doesnt say “kill those thieving a**oles!”. NOPE! he submits to the court of his day, which ultimately kills him. 

      also note that he doesnt object to justice/punishment for people who arent named “jesus”. the people who were crucified with him, christ never said ” this justice system is so unfair!”, or “where is the mercy?!”

      NO. See? xtianity is very interesting…

      • Manuelbuencamino

        All of that makes me lean towards buddhism. 

        • GabbyD

          why? i dont know anything about buddhism, so i’m asking. does buddhism discuss earthly justice?

          • Manuelbuencamino

            GabbyD,

            Frankly I don’t know but my distinct impression of buddhists is they are not into laying guilt trips on anyone. 

          • GabbyD

            oh, well, from the little i know the buddhists are into castes? and they have distinct ideas on morality, which we might consider questionable. 

            but over all, i think christ is an amazing dude, but xtians leave much to be desired. 

            christ tho, a pretty deep and radikal thinker. just this passage in john made me think about crime, justice, marriage, sexual equality… 

          • Manuelbuencamino

            Gabby,

            Cuevas and Miriam would call citing John’s gospel as hearsay. “John wrote that Jesus said..”   🙂

          • GabbyD

            sorri, castes are hinduism. different.

    • Anonymous

      Are you serious about this Corona as sacrificial lamb blabber?

      So who again — what would be their names — who wants Corona crucified in order for the sins of GuLORRRYA to be forgiven?  I haven’t read mention of deLima saying so, I bet her ambitions notwitthstanding, she will choke and gag should persiDente Noynoy ask her to push the “… crucify Corona and we spare GuLLOOO”” lie.

      On the other hand, I know of a Tiglao who has named names who want Corona crucified in order to facilitate to get sweetly-rewarding resolution to this Hacienda Luisita blah-blah-blah winky-winky-wink?

      • Manuelbuencamino

        Satire is way above your head my boy. Oh I forgot, of course it is above your head. Your head is stuck in your ass.

        • Anonymous

          shortly you’ll get a call again to visit your bosses who likes your mouth piece…..   toodley-doo!!!!   Have you ever heard them say “… just suck it up, manuB… just suck it up!!!” Blah-blah-blah winky-winky-wink!!