Thursday, May 31, 2012

'A step toward political maturity'

MANILA, Philippines - Business leaders believe that the conclusion of the impeachment proceedings against Chief Justice Renato Corona is a big step toward political maturity and fighting corruption, which is considered a major hindrance to attracting investments and strengthening business confidence in the country. In a statement issued after the handing down of the guilty verdict against Corona, the Makati Business Club (MBC) said that the five-month trial should lead to the strengthening of the administration’s commitment to “build a culture of integrity” not only in the Supreme Court, but in other branches of the government as well. “Our country has taken another major step in the challenging road to political maturity. It is our sincere hope that this difficult process will lead to the strengthening and deepening of the commitment to build a culture of integrity not just in the Supreme Court and the judicial system but in the other branches of government-the Executive, the Senate, and the House of Representatives-and the private sector as well,” the MBC said. The MBC said that the decision rendered by the senator-judges after the five-month trial were fair and impartial. “While certain rules and parameters had to be defined along the way due to the, in many ways, unprecedented nature of this impeachment trial, the Makati Business Club believes that the process leading to the senator judges’ final decision against Chief Justice Renato Corona was transparent, fair, and impartial,” the group said. MBC said Corona and his defense team were given fair opportunity to respond to the charges leveled against him. “The bar of integrity and moral fitness for the top magistrate of our country’s judicial system must necessarily be set at the highest levels,” it said. It views the impeachment trial as a validation that democracy is alive in the country. “Thus, we hold the outcome of this impeachment trial as a triumph of our democracy’s system of checks and balances, and a revalidation of the fundamental principle that public office is a public trust and that all public officials are therefore accountable to the people,” MBC said. Sergio Ortiz-Luis, chairman of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), expressed relief on the conclusion of the trial saying that now that it is concluded, Congress should now catch up with the legislative work that was stalled. Since the beginning of the proceedings against Corona, most business leaders have supported the trial, saying businesses are largely detached to the political exercise. Business leaders also supported the conduct of the trial, no matter how laborious and lengthy, believing that it is important for the Philippines to prove that it has a functioning democracy. Sought for comment on the conclusion of the trial during a forum held yesterday, EU Ambassador Guy Ledoux said the handing down of the verdict against Corona sends a good signal to the international community. “It’s a good move, a good signal. It shows that the Philippine democracy is working. We hope that President Aquino will continue with his initiatives against corruption,” he said. - By Czeriza Valencia