MANILA, Philippines – Judges from all over the country will be wearing black on Monday, January 16, to protest the impeachment trial of Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona. The Senate convenes as an impeachment court on the same day.
Judge Antonio Eugenio, president of the Manila regional trial courts association, told Rappler in a phone interview that he received a text message saying that judges should wear black as a show of support for Corona, but he did not say where the text message came from.
On the other hand, Judge Franklin Demonteverde, president of the Philippines Judges Association, said they reached the decision about this move on Thursday, January 12. Employees of lower courts will also be wearing black on Monday, he added.
Demonteverde, regional trial court judge of Branch 44, Bacolod City, said that some lower courts would also be holding masses, but stressed that there would be no court holiday. “It’s business as usual,” he said.
Lanao del Norte regional trial court Judge Oscar Badelles said that wearing black on Monday would be an “individual choice” of judges.
On Dec. 14, 2011, judges went on a court holiday as Corona hit back against President Benigno Aquino III in a fiery speech spoken before hundreds of court employees. Corona, who was impeached two days before he delivered his speech, said that he would not step down.
Prior to this, Aquino lambasted Corona for allegedly showing partiality toward his former superior, ex-president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Corona was Arroyo’s chief of staff, spokesperson and presidential legal counsel when she was vice president in 1998 and became president in 2001.
SC spokesman Jose Midas Marquez said he “suggested” that court personnel go to the SC to show their support for Corona, but denied giving the order for 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.
“Quoted hereunder is a cellphone message from the Office of the Court Administrator. ‘A Court Holiday is declared for tomorrow, December 14, 2011, in solidarity with Chief Justice Corona who will be addressing the nation regarding the impeachment complaint filed against him. All Judges and Court Personnel are therefore expected to suspend court sessions and office work on the holiday tomorrow,” Garvilles’ memorandum said. – Rappler.com