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Arroyo appoints Corona as new chief justice

By Tetch Torres, TJ Burgonio
INQUIRER.net, Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 10:34:00 05/12/2010

Filed Under: government, Laws, Justice & Rights, Judiciary (system of justice)

MANILA, Philippines ? (UPDATE) President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo named Supreme Court Associate Justice Renato Corona to replace Chief Justice Reynato Puno when he retires on May 17, Malacañang announced Wednesday.

?The President has chosen Supreme Court Associate Justice Renato Corona to be the next Chief Justice when incumbent Reynato Puno retires on May 17,? the Palace said in a statement.

Malacañang said Corona was the ?most senior'' Supreme Court justice among the four nominees of the Judicial and Bar Council.

"Considering that he has been nominated by the JBC, he happens to be the most senior. And nobody I think can question this announcement and his eventual appointment,'' Raul Victorino, chief presidential legal counsel, said of Corona?s appointment at a Malacañang news briefing.

The JBC submitted four nominees, including Corona, on May 5 after the high tribunal ruled that Ms Arroyo could appoint Puno's successor even during an election period or as the end of her drew near ? a matter that stirred furious debate for weeks.

The other nominees were Supreme Court Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo de Castro and Arturo Brion, and Sandiganbayan Acting Presiding Justice Edilberto Sandoval.

The JBC excluded Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and Associate Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales ? who stood their ground that Ms Arroyo was barred by the Constitution from making such an appointment, and expressed no interest in the post under those circumstances.

Malacañang vouched for the qualifications and integrity of Corona to lead the high court, and scoffed at claims he was beholden to Ms Arroyo.

Malacañang vouched for the qualifications and integrity of Corona to lead the high court, and scoffed at claims he was beholden to Ms Arroyo.

"There were many considerations. He's the most senior among recommendees. He worked under many administrations, but he had been at SC for quite some time. He has all the qualifications,'' Executive Secretary Leandro Mendoza said in the briefing.

Contrary to perception, Ms Arroyo's appointees to the high tribunal even disagreed with the positions taken by the solicitor general in landmark cases, he said.

Victorino agreed: "If we say he's beholden to the sitting President, my question is: How can he be beholden when GMA is no longer the President on June 30?''

He advised critics questioning the eventual appointment of Corona as chief justice to go to the courts.

"A rejection of his appointment is a rejection of the Supreme Court,'' he said.

Corona was appointed associate justice by Arroyo on April 9, 2002. He graduated law from the Ateneo Law School in 1974. While studying, he also worked full time in the Office of the Executive Secretary. He ranked 25th in the 1974 Bar exams out of 1,965 candidates.

After law school, Corona studied Master of Business Administration at the Ateneo Professional Schools and in 1981, he was accepted to the Master of Laws program in Harvard Law School, where he focused on foreign investment policies and the regulation of corporate and financial institutions.

In 1992, he joined President Fidel Ramos as assistant executive secretary for legal affairs. Two years later, he was promoted deputy executive secretary and eventually became the presidential legal counsel.

After Ramos, he was invited by then Vice President Arroyo to become her chief of staff and spokesman. When she assumed the presidency in 2001, he became the presidential chief of staff, spokesman, and later as acting executive secretary.

He became a faculty of Ateneo Law School, teaching Commercial law, Taxation and Corporation law.

He was born on Oct. 15, 1948 in Tanauan City, Batangas. He is married to former Cristina Roco and they have three children.



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