Last Monday, during the Criminal and Justice Summit, President Benigno Aquino III publicly lambasted Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona. In his speech he enumerated several situations where the SC “seemingly” favored the past administration of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The President’s tirade against the Chief Justice surprised the members of the summit since it was a “face to face” attack on Corona which was unexpected. Although it’s public knowledge about the squabble between the Executive and Judiciary, last Monday’s incident still shocked many spectators because it was the first time that the President “fired his bullets” in front of (or beside) the Chief Justice.
After the said event different people voiced their opinion as to the appropriateness of the President’s gesture. People from the judiciary commented it was uncalled for, as the summit aimed to promote cooperation among different sectors of the government. SC Spokeman Midas Marquez said it was “quite disturbing” for the President to lambast the SC in a justice summit organized by the judiciary. Several senators also said it may be not incorrect for the President to air his side over the issues with the judiciary but the venue is not right for such. But many ordinary people voiced approval of what the President did, saying it’s just right for Corona to receive such treatment because of his perceived leanings to the former president. Sought for his comments after the event Chief Justice Corona kept his composure and said he just let it pass since it’s Christmas time anyways.
But, was the President really tactless and arrogant in striking Corona face to face? In my own opinion yes. I think it’s a bit over-board for the President to have done that way. I too am not for Corona cause I also believe he was a midnight appointee of Arroyo, but the gesture of “shaming” him in public especially in a summit which aimed cooperation between government agencies is not a good indication of a mature governance. The same way I am irritated when Willie lambast his staff on live national TV, I think that gesture of the President is somehow “unprofessional” and “un-statesmanly”. I will agree to those who said it’s just right that PNoy said it in front on Corona instead of “back-stabbing” him, but is public forum just right for it? They can talk face to face in private but to scold a person and put him is shame in public is not an act of statesmanship. It seemed that PNoy is used to this gesture like what he did in previous public speaking event where he scored on his cabinet secretaries who according to him are “headaches”.
Majority of the people may have agreed on what the president did, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is the right thing. A wrong act with the approval of majority doesn’t make the whole thing correct because no matter how many agrees to a wrong act is still wrong. The President should realize that he is not just an ordinary Filipino citizen who can just trade barbs and fire bullets at someone he doesn’t like. If Anabelle Rama can slash out her enemies on national TV or if Willie can just humiliate his staff on-air, that is because they do not hold an honorable office. But I didn’t want to say either that Rama and Revillame are correct in doing that. Presidency is the highest profession in the country and it should be dealt with proper professionalism, conduct and ethics.
“Tact is the art of making a point without making an enemy.” – Newton, Howard W.