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Ex-chief justice Corona joins event for Aquino ouster

BATANGAS, Philippines (UPDATED) – Former chief justice Renato Corona and his wife, Cristina, joined a gathering of about a thousand people calling for the ouster of President Benigno Aquino III in Lipa City on Thursday, February 26. 

The former chief justice and his wife sat beside Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles, a member of the anti-Aquino National Transformation Council (NTC), at the gathering held in a covered court outside the Lipa Archbishop's Residence at around 1:20 pm.

Corona was removed from office in 2012 after an impeachment trial seen as a landmark in Aquino's anti-corruption efforts. Twenty senators declared him guilty of betraying the public trust and committing culpable violation of the Constitution.

Corona was considered a "midnight appointee" of former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as his appointment was done despite a ban.

The NTC, which is composed of Arroyo allies, wants Aquino and other government officials to step down.

It wants to replace the Aquino administration with a transition council that will implement a major overhaul of the Philippine government.

At around 4 pm on Thursday, Corona joined a media briefing along with other NTC members. (READ: 'Aquino quit' group: We have no leader, financier)

A journalist sought Corona's opinion, as a former chief justice, on how feasible the NTC's proposal is, considering it is unprecedented.

Corona said this might require the Philippines to change its Constitution.

"Sooner or later, we have to stare at the fact that we have to have constitutional convention that will put all these changes in place, these reforms in place," Corona told reporters. "And I think that is the essence of democracy: The people will write a new Constitution that will put all the systems in place."

The NTC, however, has not identified a leader who can replace Aquino. It also chooses to conceal the name of its main leader, according to Arguelles. (READ: Bishops split on 'moral basis' for Aquino to quit)

The Department of Justice said the NTC's moves can be interpreted as conspiracy to commit a rebellion.

In an interview with Rappler on Monday, February 23, Arguelles dared the DOJ to prove its claim. He also said he is ready to go to prison if proven guilty. – Rappler.com  

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.

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