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Editorial

Face the charges

/ 08:24 AM December 14, 2011

So it has come to this. At least 188 members of the House of Representatives voted last Monday to impeach Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona for culpable violation of the Constitution, betrayal of public trust and graft and corruption.

The articles of impeachment, grounded on eight charges, were transmitted to the Senate yesterday, which is expected to convene into a court that would try the Chief Justice in January 2012.

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The main contention of those who oppose Corona’s impeachment is that it is an act of vengefulness perpetrated by allies of President Benigno Aquino III, who supposedly is so bratty he is incapable of peacefully accepting any High Court decision that goes against the schemes of his administration.

The oppositors claim that the move of the President’s men in Congress sets a bad precedent for the impeachment in the future of just about any justice who has a record of not letting the reigning Chief Executive have his way as lead enforcer of the law.

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The oppositors must have been howling so shrilly they have been unable, amid their own noise, to hear the resounding support of the public for making Corona answer for his behavior as a former associate justice and now Chief Justice.

In sum, the impeachment complaint accuses Corona of:

1.  partiality towards former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in his decisions in the court of last resort,

2. breaching lines of separation with the Lower House when he stopped it with a status quo ante order from impeaching former ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez,

3. failure as a member of the High Court in letting it review cases already decided merely on the prodding of letter senders, resulting in flip-flopping decisions; undue closeness to Arroyo who appointed his wife to office,

4. favoring gerrymandering in deciding for the creation of 16 new cities and promotion of Dinagat Island into a province,

5. interfering where he should not by creating a committee that he headed to clear Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo who was accused of plagiarism instead of letting Congress investigate the matter through impeachment,

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6. partiality towards GMA and her husband when he issued a temporary restraining order against the Justice Department’s travel ban on the two although they had not met the conditions set by the court to be allowed to travel,

7.  failure to file a statement of assets, liabilities and net worth as required by the Constitution; and

8.  failure and refusal to account for the Judiciary Development Fund and Special Allowance for the Judiciary  collections.

The charges, to borrow a word from House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, are grave, and with the articles of impeachment now in the Senate, the honorable thing for Corona to do, if not resign, is to disavow the use of legal technicalities to fend off his trial and face the music.

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TAGS: governance, Government, Graft & Corruption, House of Representatives, impeachment complaint, Philippine Constitution, Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona
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