By J. Monina Arevalo-Zenarosa
IT WAS a pathetic scene, and I was there in disgust, and I am sure that that
sentiment was shared by all the justices whose pride of profession had been violated in the presence of
“The recent turn of events has plunged the credibility of our Court to its lowest ebb,”
the opening sentence of the Covenant reads. That was cruel, to say the least, and it was only the
As we surveyed the crowd witnessing what perhaps was the most unfortunate
ceremony ever held at the Second Highest Court in the country, we could only feel the despair as it
humbled and put to disgrace the institution we so proudly represent and this was reflected in the
somber mood of the Justices themselves and the crowd written all over their collective mien and long
“Our hearts cannot help but grieve” – and each of us certainly meant it.
In that instance of contemplation we also knew that the Court – The Court of Appeals
– would arise anew as the touchstone of social mores and human justice to which our most thoughtful
countrymen might applaud and give assent.
The Covenant, both emotional and forgiving, echoes that hope and earnestness:
“Here and now, we will not point an accusing finger at each other, for as the Holy Scripture says, we
move on ‘forgetting what is past and striving forward to the goal that is set before us.’ More than
anything else, we, with one heart and one mind, solemnly make a covenant to continue doing good;
to hold ourselves accountable to the Supreme Judge; to give our utmost in everything that we do; to
dispense justice with honor, independence, impartiality and integrity; and to be subservient only to
truth so that our Court may be a haven of righteousness and justice.”
That is a rededication, in fact, a prayer that, according to Chief Justice Reynato
Puno himself, may not be easy to fulfill.
“Let me just emphasize that the road to recovery is a long and tortuous road,” he
said, but added that “you have taken the first step,” referring to the signing of the Covenant by all the
Justices of the Court of Appeals.
The Chief Justice took the occasion to remind the Justices as well as the Court
personnel of the truism that the law could not be separated from morality.
That is the truth, but what is not immediately obvious are the perplexities that
surrounded the circumstances that brought us all to this situation. And that is our predicament
because by signing our Covenant through habit of obedience, we are burying those unanswered
contradictions in nervous oblivion. And meanwhile we say, “Under the bludgeoning of chance our
heads are bloody but unbowed.”