Today is Sunday, September 23, 2018

Our Hearts Grieve But We Shall Arise

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 multitude.

“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 beginning.

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 faces.

“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.”

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