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MANILA, Philippines – Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda said Thursday, December 22, that it is improper for the head of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), to accuse the Executive branch or the legislature of railroading the impeachment of Chief Justice Renato Corona.
Speaking as a lawyer and a member of the IBP, Lacierda also insisted that statements made by the president of the IBP is not necessarily reflective of its members’ sentiments. “No, it’s not. I was not asked my opinion on the matter. We believe that other past presidents of the IBP do not share his opinion.”
Lacierda was reacting to statements made earlier by IBP President Roan Libarios, who earlier described the way by which congressmen pursued Corona’s impeachment as “a clear and patent display of disregard of the constitutional guarantee to equal protection of the law.”
“I don’t think it’s proper for the IBP to accuse the Executive branch or the legislature for railroading a process which was mandated by the Constitution,” Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda told reporters when queried on the issue at a Malacañang press briefing.
Lacierda pointed out that impeachment is a process provided for under the Constitution and as such, “the IBP should very well recognize that there is a mechanism such as impeachment in a removal for a sitting justice.”
He pointed out the Constitutional provision which mandates that, if one-third of the congressmen have already signed the impeachment articles, the complaint is immediately transmitted to the Senate and treated as Articles of Impeachment.
“It’s found in the Constitution so I don’t see any reason why the IBP would accuse the Executive or the Legislature of railroading the process. If it’s found in the Constitution then it must be sanctioned by the Constitution,” Lacierda said.
“This is not about an attack on the institution itself. This is about strengthening the institution and if the IBP cannot see beyond what we are doing right now, then it has taken on a partisan stand especially of its president, IBP president Roan Libarios, who does not speak for me as a lawyer,” said Lacierda.
Libarios, a former congressman, was one of the prosecutors in the impeachment trial against former President Joseph Estrada back in 2000. The House of Representatives at the time also took the short cut route to impeachment as provided by the Constitution.