President Noynoy Aquino (PNoy) seems to be suffering from tunnel vision. The medical term tunnel vision refers to the loss of a personâ€™s peripheral vision. People who suffer from tunnel vision can only see what is in front of them and not the ones on the sides of their eyes. The term tunnel vision is also used in literature to metaphorically describe someone who has a myopic view or narrow point of view of the world. In addition, people who have tunnel vision also exhibit extremely prejudiced outlook, bias, lacking in tolerance and sympathy of other people especially their enemy.
In his recent speech at a forum at the La Consolacion College, Manila in celebration of the first EDSA people power revolution in 1986, PNoy exhibited signs of tunnel vision in the way he railed against his perceived political enemies. The hapless captured audience, comprised mostly of students who are barely out of puberty, became victims of PNoyâ€™s tirade against the impeached Supreme Court Chief Justice, Renato Corona. The poor students were bombarded with propaganda that was extremely biased and prejudiced against the Chief Justice.
PNoy devoted his entire speech, which was accompanied by a power point presentation, to persuading the audience into believing that Chief Justice Corona is guilty of the charges in the articles of impeachment. PNoy turned what could have been an opportunity to inspire the young generation to think positively and promote congeniality in our society into something very negative and unconstructive.
PNoy could have set aside politics in the presence of impressionable members of the community. Instead, he chose that particular occasion to show them that when you hate someone, you need to use force to get rid of them. Unfortunately, the teenagers were exposed to bias, intolerance and vindictiveness courtesy of the highest officer in the country. This is very disheartening, indeed.
What PNoy failed to mention in front of the innocent young students is that, Chief Justice Coronaâ€™s trial is still ongoing; he failed to mention that the prosecution is still presenting their so-called â€œevidenceâ€ and that the defense team, those in charge of responding to the charges against the Chief Justice has not given their official rebuttal; he failed to mention that all of us have only heard one side.
PNoy reiterated in his speech only too much that Chief Justice Corona failed to disclose his assets, liabilities, and net worth (SALN). He kept stressing that the SALN of the High Court’s primus inter pares was just kept in a vault. In PNoyâ€™s myopic view, it is only Chief Justice Corona among all the Supreme Court judges who had done this. Never mind that a 1989 en banc resolution requires that the SALNâ€™s of all the members of the Supreme Court be submitted to the Clerk of Court for safekeeping. The en banc resolution is meant to protect the independence of the judiciary because information in the wrong hands tends to â€œendanger, diminish or destroy their [the judiciaryâ€™s] independenceâ€¦and expose them to revenge for adverse decisions, kidnapping, extortion, blackmail.â€ The President was wrong in putting malice when Chief Justice Corona put his SALN in the Supreme Courtâ€™s vault for safekeeping. His SALN is not the only one kept there.
PNoy also insinuated that the Chief Justice was the only person behind the issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against a watch list order on former President Gloria M Arroyo (GMA). He stopped short of saying that the Chief Justice is in control the entire Supreme Court. PNoy is playing ignorant of the fact that out of the 13 judges who participated in voting on the petition from the Arroyos, eight voted yes and five voted no. This shows the democratic way decisions are handed down; this means that the Supreme Court is not under the complete control of the Chief Justice. Besides, the issuance of a TRO was a mere â€œprovisional remedyâ€ and â€œdoes not say if one is guilty or if one should be acquitted.â€ In addition, the issuance of the TRO is â€œconsistent with the constitutional provision on the presumption of innocenceâ€ since GMA has not been accused of anything at that time.
PNoy is definitely promoting negative mental attitude. He is also teaching flawed reasoning when he said that â€œit would be â€œextremely difficult, if not impossibleâ€ to pursue his reforms if Corona would be allowed to stay as the Chief Justice. His statement is completely false because it is a fact that as the Chief Justice, Corona only carries 1 vote out of 15 in the Court, and is â€œgenerally regarded, vis-a-vis the other Justices, as the primus inter pares rather than as the administrative superior of the other members of the Court.â€
One gets this general feeling that PNoy thinks that most Filipinos are stupid. Letâ€™s pretend for a moment that Chief Justice Corona holds the other justices by their balls and gets them to do what he says; but isnâ€™t it that prevention is better than the cure? The Supreme Court only comes into the picture when someone breaks the law. In this sense, the Supreme Court cannot be the sole source of corruption. PNoy can still pursue his reforms in other ways even if he doesnâ€™t see eye-to-eye with whoever is in charge of the Supreme Court. The truth is, judging by the way PNoy strong-arms his political allies, the padrino system, which is one of the worse forms of corruption in the Philippines, is still alive and well even after GMA has gone and is especially more blatant during PNoyâ€™s term.
PNoyâ€™s tunnel vision is causing him to forget that there are other things to do aside from pursuing individuals who he thinks is allied with GMA. Zambales Rep. Milagros Magsaysay blames the administration â€œfor letting inflation get out of hand while it focused on the impeachment.â€ To quote Congresswoman:
â€œWe have been constantly reminding the government that if it does not do anything about skyrocketing oil prices, it will have an impact on the prices of goods in the market. Now, here we are stuck in this predicamentâ€”prices of sardines and other goods are beginning to rise already which will start an avalanche of subsequent price hikesâ€”all because the administration failed to prepare safeguards to cushion the people from the impact of inflation.
Magsaysayâ€™s warnings is not without merit considering there is a looming war in the middle east with Israel considering going ahead with preemptive strikes against Iran. And then there is still a crisis in Syria with the government on the attack against those they perceive to be anti-government. But this is all falling on deaf ears as PNoy insists that he cannot do anything until the Chief Justice is out.
Obviously PNoy is getting impatient and doesnâ€™t like how the events in the trial are unfolding in a way unfavorable to the prosecution. He says that there is enough evidence to convict the Chief Justice, but his actions betray him. If he is confident of a conviction, then he need not go out of his way to influence the mindset of the public and the Senator Judges; he need not meddle in the trial by way of statements that show his prejudice.
Those who are watching the proceedings closely know that the evidence presented by the prosecution may not even be admitted because the prosecution may have violated the law in obtaining a copy of the alleged bank records, which was used as the basis for issuing the subpoena. Worse, members of the prosecution team have been making conflicting stories about where they got those â€œspuriousâ€ documents. First it was Representative Reynaldo Umali who claimed that he was the one who got the papers from a â€œsmall lady.â€ Then after PSBank manager, Annabelle Tiongsonâ€™s revelation that Rep. Jorge “Bolet” Banal went to their bank on the 31st of January to ask for her â€œhelpâ€, Banal then went on to give a very long explanation saying someone left for him an envelope under the gate of his home in Quezon City the night before he went to the PSBank branch in Katiputan.
The prosecution seems to have a lot of phantom helpers who are very mysterious, indeed. The question is, will the Senator Judges get to the bottom of this web of lies or will they just let it slide? The prosecution has been gathering evidence by circumventing the law from the very beginning but the impeachment court has been very generous and liberal to them despite the delays they are causing. Meanwhile, the defense has been warned that they may be in contempt of court when they conducted a press conference about an anonymous tip they supposedly received that Malacanang Executive Secretary, Paquito Ochoa approached and offered 100M pesos to any of the Senator Judges who would defy the Supreme Courtâ€™s TRO issued against the disclosure of Coronaâ€™s alleged dollar accounts.
Who can explain the perceived discrepancies in Chief Justice Coronaâ€™s SALN? I cannot explain it; neither can anyone from the public including PNoy and his staff. The only one who can explain it is Chief Justice Corona through his counsels. Any attempts at explaining the existence of his bank accounts and its contents outside of his family and legal team would involve mere speculation. I would rather wait for the clarification, which is sure to come in â€œdue timeâ€. Frankly, the number of bank accounts in circulation is doing my head in and Iâ€™m afraid I might suffer from tunnel vision if I attempt to justify it.