MANILA, Philippines – For the Davao court interpreter who was fired in 1997 and denied her retirement benefits for failing to fully declare her assets, Chief Justice Renato Corona’s conviction of the same charge proved one thing: No one is above the law.
“Pareho lang pala kami (We are just the same),” Delsa Flores, a former employee of Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Panabo, Davao, said in a phone interview with ABS-CBN’s TV Patrol after the Senate impeachment court handed down a guilty verdict for Corona on Tuesday, May 29.
Flores was ordered dismissed from service by the Supreme Court in an en banc decision in 1997 because she did not disclose ownership of a stall in a public market in her statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN).
Aside from firing her, the SC forfeited her retirement benefits and leave credits, and barred her from being employed in the government.
Ironically, the SC chief justice now finds himself in the same boat as Flores.
Corona, who did not declare P183 million in peso and dollar accounts in his SALN, was found guilty of violating the Constitution and betraying public trust by 20 of 23 senator-judges in the historic conclusion of its impeachment trial on Tuesday, May 29.
The decision removes him from his post, disqualifies him from holding public office and opens the possibility of cases being filed against him.
However, unlike Flores, Corona was able to air his side before the court.
Flores’ dismissal was immediate. “Diretso na nila akong pinarusahan (They punished me immediately),” she said, adding that she could not afford to hire a lawyer then.
Many of the senators who voted to convict Corona cited Flores’ case when they explained their decision. They said the law should apply to all — from the lowly government workers to the chief justice. – Rappler.com