MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang confirmed a meeting between President Benigno Aquino III and Chief Justice Renato Corona took place, but said it’s not what the latter claims it is.
Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda affirmed that Aquino indeed met with Corona in July 2010. Lacierda, however, denied that the President consulted the Chief Justice about the creation of the Truth Commission.
In a DWIZ radio interview, Corona claimed Aquino asked him about the Truth Commission when the two met in the house of Aquino’s eldest sister, Ballsy Aquino-Cruz.
Lacierda said in a statement that the meeting was for the sole purpose of laying down Aquino’s intended reforms in the judiciary.
“Nagkaroon sila ng palitan ng opinyon at kuru-kuro sa iba’t ibang paksa kung paano higit na mapapatibay ang ugnayan ng ehekutibo at hudikaturang sangay ng pamahalaan.” (They had an exchange of opinion and ideas about different topics related to strengthening relations between the executive and judicial branches of government.)
In the radio interview, Corona said he advised Aquino that the Truth Commission must not be limited to probing the Arroyo administration in keeping with the equal protection clause in the Constitution.
The creation of the Truth Commission was provided for in Aquino’s first Executive Order. In 2010, the Supreme Court struck down the body as unconstitutional.
Arranged by a retired justice
Lacierda told reporters that the meeting was arranged by a retired justice whom he refused to name. The spokesperson clarified that the meeting intended to “bridge the relationship” between Aquino and Corona.
As a candidate, Aquino disparaged Corona, calling him a “midnight Chief Justice.” He also broke tradition in his inauguration by choosing to take his oath before then Supreme Court Associate Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales instead of Corona, the Chief Justice.
Lacierda said Aquino did not discuss future cases that might be filed against his administration.
“It was merely to make sure to dispel the perception that the Chief Justice might have, that the President has something personal against the Chief Justice.”
Lacierda said Aquino gave Corona the benefit of the doubt to show that he is impartial, but his actions on several Supreme Court decisions showed otherwise.
Lacierda cited the High Court rulings on the Dinagat Island case, on the impeachment of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, and the temporary restraining order that would have allowed the Arroyos to flee. These were cases cited in the impeachment complaint against Corona.
The spokesperson also criticized Corona for his media blitz, saying his statements raised more answers than questions.
“The public’s doubt on the Chief Justice just deepens: is Mr Corona still fit to remain as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court?”
Lacierda said the Palace is expecting Corona to affirm his media statements by testifying in the Senate.
Aside from Aquino, Corona also claimed he met with Sen. Teofisto “TG” Guingona III who allegedly offered him a term-sharing deal with Associate Justice Antonio Carpio. Guingona has denied making the offer. – Rappler.com