MANILA, Philippines – Chief Justice Renato Corona sought the inhibition of Supreme Court Associate Justices Antonio Carpio and Lourdes Sereno from a case that could ultimately decide his fate.
Corona, through his lawyers, filed a motion for inhibition on Wednesday, February 8, against Carpio and Sereno, asking them not to take part in the deliberations on his case. The chief magistrate asked the SC to declare as void the impeachment complaint filed against him in December 2011.
Corona said that Carpio had “begrudged” him for his appointment as Chief Justice in May 2010. Carpio and Corona were frontrunners for the post in 2010, being the two most senior justices in the High Court. (Both worked together under the Ramos government, when Carpio served as presidential legal counsel while Corona worked as presidential assistant.)
Carpio, however, opted to back out of the race because the selection coincided with the appointment ban. The President is prohibited from making any appointments two months before an election and until the President’s term ends.
But the SC reversed itself in a 2010 decision and ruled that the appointment ban does not cover the judiciary. Then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo appointed Corona as Chief Justice.
In his motion, Corona said that even if he and Carpio observe civility, “the enmity and rivalry” between them is “common knowledge.” The motion specified that the two had taken different sides on various “judicial matters.” Carpio and Corona had cast opposing votes in a number of cases concerning Mrs Arroyo, who is now under hospital arrest over an election sabotage case.
Sereno, meanwhile, was asked to inhibit because her “arrival to the Honorable Court has signaled a new period of difficulty and embarrassment for CJ Corona.”
Sereno had disclosed alleged loopholes in SC deliberations on controversial cases, such as the High Tribunal’s issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) that stopped impeachment proceedings against then Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, an Arroyo appointee. Sereno said she had not yet received a copy of the petition when the SC decided to issue the TRO.
The issuance of the TRO in the case of Gutierrez is included in the 8 Articles of Impeachment filed against Corona.
Corona said in his complaint that since Sereno was also asked to testify before the impeachment court, she would be perceived to be partial toward the prosecution.
Corona added that both Carpio and Sereno have directly opposed him on a number of issues, even those that go beyond judicial boundaries.
“Indeed their differences have transgressed ordinary disagreements on judicial issues, but have become personal,” Corona’s petition for inhibition said. – Rappler.com