MANILA, Philippines – In his latest public appearance, embattled Chief Justice Renato Corona called on law graduates to rally behind him in upholding the independence of the judiciary against those who want to create a “compliant and malleable judiciary.”
Corona called on the graduates of the Philippine Law School (PLS) during their commencement exercises Monday, March 26, to uphold the rule of law and decide based on their conscience.
“Sa mga tulad ninyong maalam sa batas, pairalin ang tama na naaayon sa inyong konsensiya – hindi kung ano nag gusto ng nakararami,” Corona said, taking a swipe at recent surveys where he has been getting low popularity and trust ratings. (Most college students polled in a recent survey also said they don’t trust him.)
He told the graduates that government is a “government of laws, not of men,” and emphasized that the judiciary has the sole power to interpret laws.
“Ang Korte Suprema ay husgado, hindi ng mga namumuno, kundi husgado ng sambayan,” he said.
The Chief Justice also reiterated that he is innocent of the charges against him, and that he is facing the impeachment trial to fight for democracy even if he has everything to lose.
“[Why] am I risking all this?… For one reason alone, and it is the fact that, in my heart of hearts, I am fighting for democracy and the preservation of the fundamental freedoms that guarantee the preservation of our way of life,” he told the graduates.
He also said that even with “fabricated” stories aimed to “besmirch” him and his family, in the end it will be “between [him] and the Lord God Almighty.”
“You should be prepared to lose everything when you are fighting for your principles,” he said.
Corona also related to the school’s graduating class that his father, Juan M. Corona, was also a lawyer and an alumnus of the PLS.
The PLS commencement address is also Corona’s first public speaking engagement during the 6-week break in the impeachment trial.
The trial, which took a break starting Friday, March 23, will resume on May 7. – Rappler.com