Wednesday, December 14, 2011

"The Apology" and the Impeachment of the Chief Justice

By Jamil Matalam
Ateneo de Davao University

After asking students to read Plato’s “The Apology of Socrates” Allan Bloom asks his students what are their verdict; do they acquit or convict Socrates? The question is important because in the Dialogue Socrates was talking to his judges and was not talking about philosophical concepts; Socrates wanted to be judged upon. The great philosopher provided us the method to judge him, i.e. by the method of “truth”. The impeachment of Chief Justice Corona gives us a good opportunity to revisit this most enigmatic Dialogue by Plato.


The first part of Socrates’ apology was committed to the clarification of this method. At first, he asked to be excused for not knowing how to make his defense in accordance with the rules of the proceedings, and that the manner of his speech would not be poetic and pleasing to his audiences. He asks them to hold fast instead on the import and truth of his words and not the manner of his speech. He then proceeds to point out the earlier calumnies against him and asks the audiences not to be carried away by the baseless calumnies against him, i.e. he is a teacher, a good speaker and an atheist philosopher. Instead, he asks them to look critically to the evidences he will point out and the cross-examination of one of his accusers; lest he be prejudged and the verdict untruthful. Lastly, he refused to appeal to their sympathies.

The recent series of unfortunate events that happened to the country culminating to the impeachment of the Chief Justice, it is my position, calls upon us to apply a similar Socratic method. I just cannot and refuse to judge any person, the President, the former President and the Chief Justice without being given credible and strong evidence against them. I point this as a precaution because many seem to have their conclusions and verdict already. Yet most of us only have information from sensational news reporting and insinuations by politicians. For instance, the latent accusation that the Chief Justice Corona is a man of Gloria Arroyo, and thus partial to her and is taking orders from her, that Gloria controls the judiciary. All these could be true, and should be corrected, but it has to be supported and grounded on factual truth; and it is primarily the responsibility of the accusers to provide us of these facts. We cannot be swayed simply by dramatic and passionate speeches, or clearly sensational and partial news reporting.

We all thus await for all the facts to unfold in the impeachment trial of the Chief Justice. The trial will provide us with all the evidences that we need for us to give our truthful judgment and verdict. The Senate trial has the responsibility to provide us with the truth on the matter; and not to provide us with a political partisanship exercise. Till then I refuse to give any judgment and any verdict. We all await for the impeachment trial of the Chief Justice. Only then can we ask ourselves, truly what is our verdict?