MANILA, Philippines – Saying the impeachment complaint against him was the “handiwork” of the Liberal Party and fueled by President Benigno Aquino III’s obsession to oust him, Chief Justice Renato Corona on Monday, Dec. 26, 2011, asked the Senate to dismiss the case immediately.
In a 79-page reply, Corona, through his legal team, sought for the “outright dismissal” of the eight articles filed against him before the Senate, which recently convened into an impeachment court.
The supposedly “verified impeachment complaint” was “instigated and ordered” by President Aquino and therefore born of “bias,” he said. Corona asked the Senate for “all other reliefs just and equitable under the premises.”
Former Justice Secretary Serafin Cuevas leads the legal team of the Chief Justice, which also includes Jose Roy III, Jacinto Jimenez, Ernesto Francisco Jr, German Lichauco II, and Dennis Manalo. (For more details on Corona’s defense team, read story here)
At least 32 copies of the 79-page answer were received at 3:35 p.m. by Senate lawyer Arnel Jose Banas. Read the full text of Corona’s response here.
“With much effort, one reaches the inevitable conclusion that President Benigno C. Aquino III, as the head of the Liberal Party, must have been ‘in’ on the plan from the inception. In contrast, it is unlikely that President Aquino knew nothing of the plans to impeach the Chief Justice,” Corona’s reply said.
The impeachment complaint is nothing more than Aquino’s attempt to co-opt the High Tribunal, it added. “Ensuring political advantage would amply justify the allegations that President Aquino seeks to subjugate the Supreme Court. More importantly, however, many circumstances and events dating back to the election of President Aquino support the conclusion that it was he who desired to appoint the Chief Justice and who instigated and ordered the filing of impeachment charges to remove CJ Corona.”
Corona’s reply cited “hidden forces” who will benefit from his ouster and who are at present conspiring against him, “causing intrigue behind the scene to ensure his removal and their re-emergence into power to the detriment of the Bench, Bar and the populace.”
Thus, the impeachment process has become “a partisan orgy, devoid of any mature deliberation and of lawful purpose whatsoever, especially in a precedent-setting and historic event involving no less than the impeachment of the Chief Justice of the Philippines.”
Corona is the first Chief Justice in the country to be impeached.
An impeachment trial is expected to begin early next year, although two petitions had been lodged before the High Tribunal calling for its dismissal. Appointed by Mrs Arroyo after the May 10, 2010 presidential race, during a supposed election ban on appointments, Corona insisted the High Court already ruled on the legality of his appointment.
He called on the Senate to ensure the principle of separation of powers and checks and balances. “An independent Supreme Court and Judiciary… cannot be allowed to dissolve into hollow words from its fragile reality,” he said.
“Only through a fair and judicious exercise of its judgment can the Senate restore productive co-existence within the trinity of the Republic’s three great branches,” he added. Corona admitted that he worked under then Vice President and President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, but “not of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.”
Yet, President Aquino showed his bias against the Chief Justice early on, the legal team said, citing the fact that Mr Aquino chose to take his oath as president in June 2010 before another justice, Conchita Carpio-Morales, who has retired and is now Ombudsman.
In their reply, Corona’s lawyers criticized the 188 members of the House of Representatives who signed the articles of impeachment in blitzkrieg fashion, “causing the immediate transmission of the complaint to the Senate.”
“Almost instantly, some members of the House resigned from the majority coalition, amidst complaints of undue haste in the filing of the articles of impeachment. It appears that members were expected to sign on being offered tangible rewards, even if denied the opportunity to read the articles of impeachment and examine the evidence against CJ Corona.”
They argued that the impeachment was “the handiwork of the Liberal Party alone,” referring to the administration party headed by the President.
“What we have before us, then, is a complaint born our of bias against CJ Corona and the predisposition to destroy him by associating him with the unpopular former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and by misinterpreting his concurrence to certain Supreme Court decisions as protecting former President Arroyo.” – Rappler.com