Corona lawyers, IBP decry Aquino’s continued criticismsPhilippine Daily Inquirer
Lawyers of Chief Justice Renato Corona have called the attention of the senator-judges to scathing criticisms against him and the discussion of the impeachment case’s merits by President Benigno Aquino III at a “town hall meeting” with students on February 16, despite the ongoing trial.
The defense counsels said Mr. Aquino “directly addressed the merits of the case and hastily declared his conclusions about the guilt of CJ Corona” at La Consolacion College in Manila.
They described the “outburst as indirect confirmation of the President’s foiled attempt to have his way with the impeachment court.”
The statements were contained in a 12-page explanation they submitted to the impeachment court on Friday amid the possibility that they might be cited for contempt for earlier alleging that Malacañang was trying to bribe senators on the eve of a crucial vote on the temporary restraining order issued by the Supreme Court on the opening of Corona’s dollar accounts.
In the La Consolacion event, the President campaigned for the removal of Corona, saying: “The question in this trial is rather simple: Can we still trust Mr. Corona? We can answer that with the truth coming out during the trial.”
“Would Juan de la Cruz allow himself to be left out of this process? Are we going to allow only a few to decide for all of us?” he added.
The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) has yet again called on Mr. Aquino to keep his hands off the impeachment trial, warning that meddling in the affairs of a coequal branch of government could be a ground for impeachment.
In a statement issued Sunday by IBP spokesperson Dennis Habawel, the lawyers’ group said that if the President had indeed tried to persuade some senators not to comply with the Supreme Court’s order pertaining to Corona’s alleged dollar accounts, it could be “a violation of the principle of separation of powers.”
“The Constitution provides that the Senate has the sole power to try and decide impeachment cases,” the IBP argued. “Any act of the President that interferes with the exercise by the Senate of such sole power is arguably a culpable violation of that constitutional provision,” it added.
The IBP said that while Mr. Aquino could express his views on Corona’s impeachment trial, the government should not “intervene in the process.”
“(I)f he commits acts that tend to influence the Senate to actually disregard the (high court’s order), such as in giving pork barrel projects (to) the senators … the President risks being impeached by Congress for culpable violation of the Constitution,” it said.
Members of the House expect the hostilities between Mr. Aquino and Corona to escalate.
“(I)t would most certainly ramp up unless the impeachment trial is ended sooner. This, of course, builds pressure on the prosecution to rest its case soon,” said Isabela Representative Giorgidi Aggabao, a member of the prosecution team.
House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez said the prosecution team deserved all the criticisms for being ill-prepared in the Senate impeachment trial after rushing the filing and approval of the complaint. Reports from Christian V. Esguerra, Marlon Ramos and Gil C. Cabacungan