Buencamino is a fellow of Action for Economic Reforms (www.aer.ph).

Circulating in the social media is a letter from a classmate of Chief Justice Renato Corona. Rene Santayana and Renato Corona were in the Ateneo 1962 elementary and 1966 high school graduating classes. Santayana wrote to his class e-group after he received an e-mail on the Newsbreak exposé regarding Corona’s embellished academic achievements. (Read in Rappler.com “Corona lied about academic honors?”)

An Atenean from a later batch summed up Santayana’s letter as a “message that reflects the dilemmas that we face when we have to choose between doing good and protecting erring kin, friends, and classmates. In Philippine society, the greater good is subsumed to loyalty to the family, the class, the tribe, the fraternity, the organization.”

Below is Mr. Santayana’s letter to his classmates:

Dear classmates,

The attached email (the Newsbreak exposé) caught my eye because of its attachments (Corona’s academic resumé submitted to Malacañan in 1992 when he worked for the Ramos administration; a screen grab of Corona’s resumé in the Supreme Court website prior to its alteration in March 14, 2010; Ateneo commencement programs from grade school, high school, college, and college of law) and so I decided to briefly drop a line to this forum. I imagine there is a great deal of “talk” about the ongoing impeachment proceedings which is why I am forwarding this to the Yahoo group.

Many of the attachments in this email will be familiar to you. Certainly, they were to me. The heavy hitters in our batch were Edjop (Edgar Jopson), Bobby Jayme, Rhett Pleno, Jacques Schnabel, Inggo Diaz, Chito Gomez, Louie Hernandez, Dari Pagcaliwagan, and Benito Diaz. I never saw nor do I recall the name of Corona having stood out in any honors list during our years in the Ateneo. Do you?

The point is … why lie about it? There are more than a hundred of us classmates—surely a large number will recall what really transpired in school? What a blatant display of arrogance and contempt! This I take personally because it touches me and it violates whatever small personal unsullied space I can still cling to in this life. I cannot stand idly by and allow myself to be made complicit in this.

If we cannot trust a man in small things, how can we trust him in big things? Grade school and high school … who still includes those in a professional resume anymore? Frankly, it’s not even worth mentioning, much less lying about. Yet, some people choose to fabricate and weave untruths … and use it for self promotion. Anyone who can lie about such small things can lie about anything—yes, even the biggest things.

In this particular instance it is very difficult to show any support even for a classmate, unless you are prepared to compromise your own principles. Personally I was reserving judgment and waiting for events to unfold. It seems the wait is over. This is an issue we are all familiar with. This has nothing to do with Malacañang, nothing to do with the Senate, nothing to do with politics. It has everything to do with principle, character and integrity.

Regardless of the outcome, this early Rene Corona himself has shown me that he is unworthy of his position—or any other responsible position. The cumulative weight of all those petty lies and belabored half-truths is crushing and it leaves him bereft of any moral ground to stand on. He should just admit his guilt, resign immediately and hang his head in shame.

It’s 2:17 in the morning. More than 5 hours have gone by and still I cannot bring myself to press the “send” button. In the end I realize that I will have to—or suffer the loss of my own principles. But that does not make it any easier. What an utter disappointment! For all of us.