MANILA, Philippines - This piece is being written on the eve of the Senate hearing on the historic impeachment case of Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona. This development has put the highest tribunal at center stage so that perhaps from now on, we would no longer take the judiciary for granted or regard the courts as just another layer of the bureaucracy, as the late Supreme Court Associate Justice Abraham Sarmiento had noted.
Although I am not a lawyer, my personal library has at least three shelves of publications on the judiciary. Most of them are reports on judicial reforms, having been part of the team that assisted the Supreme Court in the Action Program for Judicial Reform (APJR) for some five years. Just recently, the World Bank, one of the major international funding partners had expressed dissatisfaction with the manner in which the terms of agreement were implemented under the administration of Chief Justice Renato Corona.
This was not the case during the watch of the three past Chief Justices - Justice Hilario Davide, Justice Artemio Panganiban, and Chief Justice Reynato Puno when the reforms implemented under the Philippine APJR were favorably regarded by donors and partners. Further investigation on the current judicial reforms will bear me out.
I am sure many of us are now thinking of a post-impeachment scenario which could lead to what we all would like to see - a stronger and more credible judicial system which could live up to public perception as the last bulwark of democracy.
Two books which I received last Christmas provide perspectives from retired justices on how that vision can be attained. One is a collection of papers written by the late Supreme Court Associate Justice Abraham F. Sarmiento entitled Journey of a Retired Supreme Court Justice, a present from Atty. & Mrs. Ike Sobrepena; the other is a collection of selected columns by Retired Chief Justice Artemio V. …