Thursday, 8 July 2010

Leaders reconciled

All’s well with Aquino, Corona
President Noy acknowledges Chief Justice

By EDMER F. PANESA and LESLIE ANN G. AQUINO
Manila Bulletin
http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/265641/aquino-acknowledges-corona-chief-justice

In what could be the start of a good working relationship between the Executive and the Judiciary, President Aquino finally acknowledged on Wednesday Chief Justice Renato C. Corona during the “Red Mass” held at the Manila Cathedral.

During the prayer part of the mass, Aquino directly recognized Corona and addressed him as “Chief Justice Corona,” which is pretty much the opposite of what happened during his inaugural.

Aquino then did not acknowledge Corona, who heads a co-equal branch of government, and merely gave a general greeting to “members of the Supreme Court.”

After the mass officiated by Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, Corona took the initiative to shake Aquino’s hands.

The President smiled as he shook hands with the Chief Justice.

Corona, in an interview with reporters, said he wanted to greet Aquino during the “peace be with you” portion of the mass but the President came an hour late and when he arrived, they were too far from each other.

But when the mass ended, Corona said he had the chance to talk to the President.

He also said that when the President passed near him after reading the “Prayer for the Nation’s Leaders,” they shook hands and told Aquino, “Mr. President, peace be unto you.”

When asked how the President responded, Corona said, “Tumawa lang sa akin and pressed my hand.”

Corona explained that he and Aquino just wanted the same thing, which is to do their jobs well and serve the people.

He said he has been praying for the President from the start and has forgiven the people who criticized or questioned his appointment.

“Pinagdadasal ko siya from Day One naman. Lahat nga ng bumatikos sa appointment ko napatawad ko na e. I think it’s time,” he said.

Aquino had been very vocal about his objection to the March 17 decision of the Supreme Court that allowed former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to appoint the successor to then Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno, who turned out to be Corona.

This was precisely the reason why Aquino picked Associate Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales, the lone dissenter in the controversial decision, to administer his oath.

Aquino said he and Carpio-Morales are of the same opinion that Arroyo’s designation of Corona as replacement for Puno, who retired last May 17, was in violation of the constitutional ban on midnight appointments.

But the High Court, voting 9-1 with three justices inhibiting and two others dismissing the case for being premature, ruled that appointments to the High Court are not covered by the ban.

The Red Mass for lawyers and justices was delayed for 30 minutes because church organizers tried to wait for the arrival of Aquino.

A source from the Archdiocese of Manila, however, stressed that the Chief Executive did not ask for them to wait for him.

“He said we should go ahead with the Mass,” said the source.

The President arrived at the Manila Cathedral in Intramuros, Manila at 10 a.m.

In his homily, Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales led the faithful in praying for the country’s leaders so they may be guided by the Holy Spirit.

“Today, we pray, with you and for you, that the Holy Spirit will, as He did for the apostles in the early days of the Church, continue to guide those who serve our people, taking advantage of no one,” he said.

“We continue to invoke that the manner of serving may never disaffect the people’s trust in transparent governance and the selfless politics of the public servants,” added Rosales.

Aquino, in his prayer for the nation’ leaders, sought the guidance and protection of the Lord in fulfilling their promise to lead the country with integrity and honor.

“We pray that the leaders representing co-equal branches of government — judges, justices, mayors, governors, congressmen and senators — will all strive for unity at the risk of sacrificing their personal ambition so that the people’s ambition to achieve a decent quality of life for every citizen becomes more real,” he said.

“May the greatest of all your commandments, of emulating your unconditional love for us through our love for our fellowmen, serve as a constant reminder of how we must choose to surpass the challenges that we face today, especially when confronted with choices to either love other’s or to love just ourselves,” added Aquino.

At least 22 other bishops concelebrated the Mass with Cardinal Rosales led by Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president Tandag Bishop Nereo Odchimar. In attendance were Vice President Jejomar Binay, Corona and officials of the Commission on Elections led by its Chairman Jose Melo.

In the Catholic tradition, the Red Mass requests guidance from the Holy Spirit for all who seek justice, and offers the opportunity to reflect on what Catholics believe is the God-given power and responsibility of all in the legal profession.

It originated in Europe and derives its name from the red vestments traditionally worn in symbolism of the tongues of fire that descended on the Apostles at Pentecost.

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