Remember when the House of Representatives impeached Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines put out a full-page ad in several daily newspapers saying that “the IBP, through its Board of Governors, reiterates its unanimous stand that the breakneck impeachment of the Chief Justice by the House of Representatives thwarts the Constitution and the Rule of Law.”? The ad closed with the exhortation, “Finally, we call on our people and the stakeholders of the justice system to pay the price of vigilance. On trial now is not only the judicial independence of the Supreme Court. It is our own commitment to the supremacy of the Constitution, the Rule of Law and political democracy. The IBP was itself guilty of breakneck speed in putting out that ad.
The IBP includes all members of the bar. The IBP stand that the impeachment of Corona thwarted the Constitution and Rule of Law could not have been unanimous, as many of the members of the IBP, the members of the Committee on Justice of the House of Representatives – all lawyers and therefore members of the bar – initiated the impeachment complaint. When the Committee’s report was tabled in the plenary session of the House, there were lawyers or member of IBP who are not members of the Committee on Justice who voted for the impeachment of Corona. And in the Impeachment Court, lawyers Juan Ponce Enrile, Franklin Drilon, Francis Escudero, Pia Cayetano, Alan Peter Cayetano, Aquilino Pimentel III, Teofisto Guingona, Jr., and Kiko Pangilinan voted Corona “Guilty” of the charges leveled against him.
I bring this up because the Supreme Court, voting unanimously, suspended lawyer Dennis Acorda for three years for being guilty of dishonesty, disregarding the IBP’s dismissal of the case against Acorda. That Supreme Court unanimous decision smudges further the already blemished image of the IBP.