Aquino is not being cruel to Arroyo, Corona, says Palace aideBy TJ Burgonio
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—While he wants them both jailed, President Benigno Aquino is not necessarily being cruel to former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and former chief justice Renato Corona, Malacañang said Saturday.
Abigail Valte, one of Aquino’s spokespersons, took exception to charges by Arroyo’s allies that the President was bent on pinning the pair down without regard for the rule of law.
Valte said Arroyo, now a member of the House of Representatives, and Corona have so far been accorded due process and their rights respected by the courts and the Department of Justice.
“There’s no cruelty there,” she said in response to claims that Aquino was cruel to his political enemies. “Obviously the rights of these people are being afforded to them. They are being made to answer the charges against them in the proper forum. So how can that be cruelty? How can observing due process be tagged as cruelty? Obviously that’s an exaggeration.”
Arroyo is facing charges of electoral sabotage and plunder. Corona, who was impeached and removed from office by the Senate for non-disclosure of assets in violation of the Constitution, is facing tax evasion charges.
On the final day of his three-day visit to Australia, the President predicted that Corona may soon join Arroyo in jail. Upon assuming office in 2010, he questioned Corona’s “midnight appointment” as chief justice by then President Arroyo weeks before her term ended.
Aquino’s allies in the House of Representatives voted to impeach Corona in December last year, paving the way for his trial by the Senate, which found him guilty.
Months after his ouster in late May, Corona appeared at the Department of Justice last Thursday to file his counter-affidavit to charges that he evaded paying P120.5 million in taxes.
Arroyo, who is suffering from a spine ailment and is being held under arrest at a government hospital, is set to be arraigned on plunder charges at the Sandiganbayan on Monday.
Responding to criticisms, Valte said the President was speaking about the realm of possibilities when he spoke of Arroyo and Corona reuniting in jail.
“What the President is saying is that, it’s possible, and of course we understand the context of that given that they’ve been ordered to appear before the courts and the DOJ so that their liability could be determined. It’s not as if it has already happened,’’ she said.