Carvajal: ‘Sea of troubles’

Hamlet: “To be, or not to be—that is the question: whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune or to take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing end them.”-- William Shakespeare

MA. Lourdes Sereno’s soliloquy (“To resign or not to resign –that is the question: whether ‘tis nobler to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous impeachment or take arms against a sea of allegations and by opposing end them”) was less heart-rending than Hamlet’s. So, she did not take long with the answer. Early into her leave she delivered an impassioned speech about her decision to, so to speak, oppose and take arms against her sea of troubles.

She is lawyer and Chief Justice. Hence, I am in no position to dispute her claim that Congress has no valid grounds for impeaching her. But I disagree with her that the allegations are hearsay. Congress has lawyers among them who know what hearsay is. More telling is that her peers unanimously asked her to take an indefinite leave; a move that Red Monday demonstrated has the support of majority (?) of Supreme Court employees.

She could be right, hence acquitted, as none of the articles could prove to be valid ground for impeachment. Nevertheless, the allegations of misconduct could be proven separately to be factual, not hearsay. And from listening to the Congressional Committee hearings the allegations seem heavy enough violations of the rules of proper conduct for a high government official such as a Chief Justice.

Thus, her troubles might arguably not end with her acquittal. If the allegations are proven to be factual, albeit not grounds for impeachment, she would be a lame duck Chief Justice, in no position to unify the Supreme Court as she confidently promised in her speech in Baguio City.

She stepped on the toes of “more senior” justices on her way to the top. She should’ve factored this into her management style. Evidently she did not and ended up presiding over a “resentful” (some anyway) High Court. Hence, even if acquitted but the allegations are proven to be factual, she would have lost the moral ascendancy needed to unify and re-invigorate the High Court.

(In management, when a less senior employee is promoted to supervisor, he/she must presume a “silent resentment” from “more senior” co-workers and refrain from being bossy with them.)

Impeachment is not the only constitutional way to remove the Chief Justice. Ma. Lourdes Sereno could always remove herself by resigning. It is also constitutional for others, including her peers, to ask her to resign. She had much better soliloquize again because an acquittal not only does not guarantee an end but also add to her “sea of troubles”… and ours.
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