MANILA, Philippines – Under a Binay presidency, will the country see corrupt officials go scot-free even if evidence against them is overwhelming?
It was a question that administration standard-bearer and Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II posed on Wednesday, August 5, in reaction to Vice President Jejomar Binay’s statement on the 2012 impeachment of former Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona.
“Ang paglilitis alinsunod sa batas ay hindi kawalan ng respeto. Kapag naging pangulo siya, ibig sabihin ba nito ay hindi siya kikilos laban sa mga tiwaling judge, senador, congressman kahit ga-bundok na ang ebidensiya dahil sa baluktot niyang paraan ng pagrespeto sa mga institusyon?” Roxas said in a statement released to media.
(A trial that follows the rule of law is not a sign of disrespect. If Binay becomes president, does that mean that he will not act on corrupt judges, senators, congressmen even if the evidence against them is overwhelming just because of his skewed concept of institutional respect?)
Binay, in an August 4 radio interview, revealed that he had advised President Benigno Aquino III against pushing for the impeachment of Corona, the alleged midnight appointee of Aquino’s predecessor former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Sitting as an impeachment court, the Senate found Corona guilty of betraying the public trust and committing culpable violation of the Constitution. It was a move that shook the normally secretive Supreme Court and caused many to worry about a perceived rift between the executive and judiciary. (READ: Corona’s dollar and peso deposits)
“Katulad ‘nung kay Justice Corona, sinalubong niya ako bago siya umalis papunta sa ibang bansa. Nag-usap kami niyan. Ang sinabi ko sa kaniya hindi tama ‘yung ginagawa mong ‘yan,” said Binay of Aquino, dispelling criticism from administration allies who questioned why he was quiet when he was Cabinet secretary for 5 years.
(I spoke to him before he left for another country. I told him that what he was doing to Corona wasn’t right.)
Binay added, “Sabi ko sa kaniya, alam mo executive department andiyan ka na. ‘Yung Congress hawak mo pa. ‘Pagka iginalaw mo ang judiciary, si Justice Corona, eh diktador ka na niyan. Takot na sa’yo ang lahat. Nangyari nga, talagang natakot na ang mga hukom.” (I told him, you already have the executive department. Congress is yours. If you touch the judiciary, Justice Corona, that turns you into a dictator. Everyone would be afraid of you. And it happened, the judiciary feared him.)
Binay insisted that he tried to give his 2 cents into various issues but said Aquino was “hard-headed.”
Roxas defended Aquino’s decision to push for Corona’s impeachment, citing evidence against the former chief justice. (READ: Corona’s properties)
“Alam ng lahat na nasunod ang proseso ng batas sa pagtanggal sa puwesto ni Corona (Everything knows the proper process was followed in removing Corona from his post). In the face of overwhelming evidence, the impeachment court found that Corona had millions of pesos and properties that were not declared in his SALN and outside of his lawful income as a government employee. Even Binay’s staunchest allies voted to impeach Corona,” said Roxas.
He added, “The Judiciary is not Corona and Corona is not the entire Judiciary.”
Roxas and Binay will be going head-to-head in the 2016 presidential elections, with the latter as the standard-bearer of the opposition United Nationalist Alliance. It’s going to be a repeat of 2010, when the two ran for vice president.
Considered a shoo-in for the post then, Roxas saw his numbers slip in the weeks leading up to the elections. Binay won, although the results were disputed by Roxas before an electoral tribunal. – Rappler.com
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