JR Lopez Gonzales 4:27 PM 1
The country faces the third impeachment trial of a person in a high position. Chief Justice Renato Corona, the person sitting in the highest post in our court of last resort, faces an impeachment trial that started a couple of days ago.
(Click here for the list of "Who's Who in the Renato Corona Impeachment Trial")
(Click here for the list of "Who's Who in the Renato Corona Impeachment Trial")
For a brief recollection, CJ Corona is widely associated with the former administration. When the former President Arroyo assumed the presidency following the ouster of impeached President Joseph Estrada in January 2001, she named the Harvardian a Presidential Chief of Staff, Presidential Spokesman and later Acting Executive Secretary. Exactly two days after the 2010 General Elections, she appointed him Chief Justice. http://www.politikalon.blogspot.com
Considered by many as GMA's ‘midnight appointees’. Corona’s appointment to the high court sure raised eyebrows from the opposition. Even at the start of Pres. Noynoy Aquino's oath-taking ceremony, it seemed that they already were in a bitter note. Despite attending the ceremonies on June 2010, PNoy did not choose to traditionally swear on his presence but on SC Associate Justice Carpio-Morales.
The relationship was tainted with more antagonism because of the SC decisions that seem not to favor with the Executive orders as released by the Executive. Senator Franklin Drilon called for Corona’s inhibition in cases that involved the former president citing that the Batangeño Chief Justice consistently voted in favor of former PGMA in all 19 cases brought before the Supreme Court.
The following are three major cases, noted by Drilon:
1) Concurred in the October 10, 2010 SC decision stopping the Aquino administration from revoking the appointment of alleged “midnight” appointees of Arroyo.
2) Concurred in the December 7, 2010 SC ruling declaring President Aquino’s order creating the Truth Commission unconstitutional.
3) Dissented in the October 25, 2006 SC decision dismissing the petition of the pro-Arroyo Sigaw ng Bayan to allow a “people’s initiative” to amend the 1987 Constitution due to failure to comply with Constitutional requirements of conducting a people’s initiative.
On the last item presented, it is but interesting to note that had the SC ruled to allow a “people’s initiative” to amend the 1987 Constitution. If it pushed through, PGMA would have succeeded in changing the form of government to a parliamentary system with her as Prime Minister and with an indefinite term for as long as she controls the majority members of the parliament.
Nevertheless, according to the Representatives Romero Quimbo and Rep. Neil Tupas Jr. (both from the Liberal Party) the defining moment was on September 2010, where SC (led by Corona and the 8 other GMA appointees) came out with the decision that hampered the impeachment of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez.
In a GMA News’ interview, Representative Quimbo confessed that CJ’s ouster was already on their plan; observing the latter’s move for more than 16 months before filing the impeachment complaint. Quimbo is quoted to have said that Corona is “not up to par” and isn't fit to serve.
The 1987 Constitution states that a member of the SC “may be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, culpable violation of the Constitution, treason, bribery, graft and corruption, other high crimes, or betrayal of public trust” . According to Rep. Tupas, Corona is being accused of three impeachable offenses; graft and corruption, culpable violation of the Constitution, and betrayal of public trust – all these indicated in the 8m Articles of Impeachment.
For the “culpable violation of the Constitution”;
- Respondent committed culpable violation of the Constitution and/or betrayed the public trust when he failed to disclose to the public his statement of assets, liabilities, and net worth as required under Sec. 17, Art. xi of the 1987 Constitution. (Article 2)
- Respondent committed culpable violations of the Constitution and betrayed the public trust by failing to meet and observe the stringent standards under Art. VIII, Section 7 (3) of the Constitution that provides that “[a] member of the judiciary must be a person of proven competence, integrity, probity, and independence” in allowing the Supreme Court to act on mere letters filed by a counsel which caused the issuance of flip-flopping decisions in final and executory cases; in creating an excessive entanglement with Mrs. Arroyo through her appointment of his wife to office; and in discussing with litigants regarding cases pending before the Supreme Court. (Article 3)
- Respondent committed culpable violations of the Constitution through wanton arbitrariness and partiality in consistently disregarding the principle of res judicata and in deciding in favor of gerry-mandering in the cases involving the 16 newly-created cities, and the promotion of Dinagat island into a province. (Article 5)
For “betrayal of public trust”, the representative-complainants found that;
- Respondent betrayed the public trust and/or committed culpable violation of the Constitution when it blatantly disregarded the principle of separation of powers by issuing a “status quo ante” order against the House of Representatives in the case concerning the impeachment of then Ombudsman Merceditas Navarro-Gutierrez. (Article 4)
- Respondent betrayed the public trust through his track record marked by partiality and subservience in cases involving the arroyo administration from the time of his appointment as Supreme Court justice and until his dubious appointment as a midnight chief justice to the present. (Article 1)
- Respondent betrayed the public trust by arrogating unto himself, and to a committee he created, the authority and jurisdiction to improperly investigate a justice of the Supreme Court for the purpose of exculpating him. Such authority and jurisdiction is properly reposed by the Constitution in the house of representatives via impeachment. (Article 6)
- Respondent betrayed the public trust through his partiality in granting a temporary restraining order (tro) in favor of former president gloria macapagal-arroyo and her husband jose miguel arroyo in order to give them an opportunity to escape prosecution and to frustrate the ends of justice, and in distorting the supreme court decision on the effectivity of the tro in view of a clear failure to comply with the conditions of the supreme court’s own TRO. (Article 7)
- Respondent betrayed the public trust and/or committed graft and corruption when he failed and refused to account for the judiciary development fund (jdf) and special allowance for the judiciary (SAJ) collections. (Article 8)
Nonetheless, Pres. Aquino’s tactics are causing increasing uproar on some of the people in the opposition branding him a ‘dictator’. There were even rumors that the reason for the very expeditious impeachment complaint signed by 188 congressmen was due to a ‘pork barrel’ consideration. With Gutierrez’s ouster, running after the AFP funds scandal, CGMA’s incarceration, and now on Corona’s impeachment; people see that Pres. Aquino is on a “witch-hunting” spree.
To answer on these allegations, in an interview with radio dzBB, Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said, "Hindi namin binu-bully ang Supreme Court. The statements of the President are klarong-klaro. It refers to the lack of partiality and integrity on the part of Chief Justice Corona”.
Yet in a separate interview, Sen. Bongbong Marcos says: “I don’t know if you can call it dictatorship but when the judiciary is no longer considered an equal branch, then there is danger that the executive will have super authority which our system tries to avoid”. He adds, “Apparently, Aquino is trying to defeat that concept”. PNoy’s intensive systematic campaign directed against his dissenters reeks of a ‘political vendetta’ no matter how the Palace denies it.
Here we have an administration that is firm on its stand as opposed to the stern Chief Justice that declared “only death will make me quit”. A ‘classic case of Midnight Appointee versus Midnight Impeachment’  as Lawyer Jaime “Jun” Lopoz Jr. puts it.
On this spectacular clash of the titans, no one knows yet what will happen next.
Can someone just pass me the popcorn?
 1987 Philippine Constitution (Article VIII: Judicial Department; Article XI, Accountability of Public Officers)
 Jaime Monforte Lopoz Jr.’s Facebook Wall Post
Supreme Court Picture by http://news.yahoo.com
GMA and Corona's picture from http://globalbalita.com/2012/its-time-for-corona-to-cut-and-cut-clean/