MANILA, Philippines – Judges and employees of the judiciary nationwide are expected to wear red on Tuesday, May 22 to show their support for embattled Chief Justice Renato Corona.
Corona is scheduled to testify Tuesday in his own impeachment trial to defend himself from allegations that he failed to declare at least US$10-M dollar deposits and over P30-M peso accounts.
Judge Franklin Demonteverde, president of the Philippine Judges Association, told Rappler that they will also be holding masses in their respective halls of justices May 22.
Judges in Manila will also gather at the Supreme Court building for a mass to be held at 9.30 am.
After the mass, a rally will be held by the employees at 12 noon on Padre Faura, Manila. Willie Desamero, vice president of the Supreme Court Employees Association, said that around 100 employees will afterwards bike to the Senate and escort Corona.
Demonteverde said they still support Corona amid the explosive testimony of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales on May 14 that he allegedly had 82 dollar accounts in 5 banks. “We have to finish the impeachment proceedings first before we reach a conclusion,” he said.
Farmers from Hacienda Luisita are also expected to show up at the Senate to express support for the Chief Justice.
The farmers are grateful to the High Tribunal because it ruled in their favor on April 24, 2012. The Supreme Court, voting 14-0 (Justice Antonio Carpio inhibited because the former firm he belonged to represents a bank that purchased a portion of the hacienda) ordered the distribution of the 6,000-hectare sugar plantation to farmers.
Judges and employees of the judiciary have conducted similar forms of activities since December 2011, when Corona was impeached.
On Dec. 14, 2011, judges went on a court holiday as Corona criticized President Benigno Aquino III in a speech before hundreds of court employees. Corona, who was impeached two days before the speech, said that he would not step down.
SC spokesman Jose Midas Marquez, who is also court administrator, had said that he “suggested” that court personnel go to the SC to show their support for Corona, but denied ordering them to hold a court holiday.
However, a notice sent by Executive Judge Edgar Garvilles of Bacolod City to judges, clerks of court and court personnel on Dec. 13, 2011 showed otherwise.
Also on January 16, SC employees wore black to protest the impeachment trial.
Hacienda Luisita farmers said their rally at the Senate today is meant to show support for Corona and to thank him for the High Court’s verdict which ordered the Cojuangco family to distribute the land. The Aquino government, through the Solicitor General, supported land distribution.
Corona has been consistent in his vote. He dissented in a July 2011 ruling which revoked the stock distribution plan (SDP) but gave farmers the option to decide – through a referendum – if they want to continue being stockholders in Hacienda Luisita Inc. He said the SDP is unconstitutional from the very start.
The SDP of Hacienda Luisita, which was approved on Nov 21, 1989 by the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council, has been said to be disadvantageous to the farmers of the 6,000 hectare-sugar plantation because it abrogates the distribution of agricultural lands in favor of stock transfer.
The deal emanated from the “stock transfer scheme” that then President Corazon Aquino included in her Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program in 1988, a move that critics said allowed her family, the Cojuangcos, to skirt the agrarian reform law which required the distribution of agricultural lands to farmers.
Last week, on May 17 when Corona celebrated his second anniversary as chief justice, farmers from Hacienda Luisita attended a mass at the SC compound.
After the mass, Corona told the farmers: “Tinaya ko na po ang buhay ko para sa inyo. Tinaya ko na ang lahat para sa inyo (I’ve put my life on the line for you. I’ve risked everything for you).” – Rappler.com