MANILA, Philippines – Saying it helps restore confidence in the courts, Malacañang has lauded the historic conviction of Chief Justice Renato Corona for commiting culpable violation of the Constitution and betraying public trust.
“Our democratic institutions have been strengthened and have been proven to work,” Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said after the Senate impeachment court handed down its verdict on Tuesday, May 29.
“This is a step forward in terms of restoring public confidence in our courts, and trust in the members of the judiciary.”
The Aquino government, which had been accused by Corona of orchestrating a personal vendetta by pulling all resources to remove him from the High Tribunal, said the senate court’s decision is really a victory of the people.
“Mr. Corona is merely the public face of the things that ail our justice system,” noted Valte. “Let us never forget that those who come to court, be they rich or poor, must do so in the expectation of receiving impartial justice from those who uphold both the spirit and the letter of the law.”
On the last day of Corona’s impeachment trial, a total of 20 senators, including Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, declared the chief justice guilty of violating the law for failing to fully declare his assets.
Only 3 senators — Joker Arroyo, Miriam Defensor-Santiago, and Ferdinand Marcos Jr — voted to acquit him of the charges filed by the House of Representatives last year.
Corona is the first Philippine magistrate to be impeached and convicted. His trial is also the first of its kind to be concluded in Philippine history.
His conviction removes him from his post and bars him permanently from public office.
In explaining their votes, majority of the senator-judges said Corona violated the law when he did not declare P183 million in peso and dollar accounts under his name in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth. Corona had argued that his peso accounts were “commingled” funds and that his dollars were absolutely confidential under the Foreign Currency Deposits Act.
The verdict marks the end of his over 4-month-long trial, which began on Jan. 16, 2012, a month after 188 lawmakers from the House of Representatives impeached Corona based on 8 articles of impeachment.
The articles were later reduced to 3, with non-disclosure of assets being the meat of the charges.
Corona, once the chief of staff and a so-called midnight appointee of Aquino’s predecessor Gloria Arroyo, was also accused of favoring the embattled former president in court rulings.
Corona’s impeachment means one less obstacle for the Aquino government in prosecuting Arroyo, who is detained in hospital for corruption and electoral fraud charges. – Rappler.com