THE impeachment proceedings may take up most of the country’s attention for the greater part of the first quarter of the year 2012, more so if it drags longer with the usual throng of the legalese and technicalities. Definitely the whole political process will exact some toll on the country’s economy and socio-political concerns. The longer it takes, the more protracted the suffering will be of those who are already deprived of basic assistance, such as the victims of recent calamities.
Already some observers have perceived that the government seems to be giving more attention to the move to oust Chief Justice Renato Corona than to addressing the more urgent needs of poor Filipinos. Bishop Guillermo Afable of Digos, for instance, commented: “The Aquino government is not giving equal attention (to other problems). The lawmakers are also busy on the impeachment that their constituents don’t get the services that they deserve.” Which, of course, is true.
Iligan bishop Ilenito Galido whose diocese is still seriously reeling from the aftermath of Typhoon Sendong has called on the Aquino administration not to forget the thousands of typhoon victims whose needs to survive may be equally urgent, if not in fact more, than the priority agenda of Malacañang. “We are still overwhelmed by the recent calamity here. The impeachment trial is really not an issue for the people of Iligan as of now.”
Politics being the art of governance and public service that is oriented towards the common good actually approximates the “matuwid na daan” battle cry of the present dispensation, at least in principle. But when it comes to the wake of day, it remains, to borrow the words of the bishops in their exhortation on politics, “the arena where the interests of the powerful and rich few are pitted against those of the weak and poor many.” The more allegorical way of putting it is George Orwell’s Animal Farm, “all men are created equal but some are more equal than the others.” Which is why, to be poor is to immediately suffer exclusion and neglect.
Be that as it may, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile at his opening statement during the impeachment trial tells of how important the political exercise is to the nation: “Although the ostensible respondent in the trial before us is the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, we cannot escape the reality that, in a larger sense, the conduct of this trial and its outcome will necessarily have a serious impact on the entire nation. Its success or failure to achieve the purpose for which the Constitution has provided this mechanism as part of our system of checks and balances and of public accountability, may spell the success or failure of our democratic institutions, the strengthening or weakening of our sense of justice as a people, our stability or disintegration as a nation, and the triumph or demise of the rule of law in our land.”
In the meantime, let us heed the call of Bishop Jesse Mercado of Parañaque to be vigilant and concerned. “So part of our being good citizens is to participate in matters that will pertain to the development of our society…now, the impeachment, perhaps political in nature, (takes up) some of the issues which have to be faced by us,” he said.