Corona impeachment healthy for democracy, say 5 ex-IBP presidents
MANILA, Philippines—Five former national presidents of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) have expressed support for the impeachment proceedings against Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona, saying it would be “healthy for our democracy.”
In a manifesto they signed and issued on Tuesday, the former IBP heads said “Corona is not above the law.’’
“We should recognize the primacy of the rule of law and respect the doctrine of separation of powers. At the same time, we must realize and accept that the rule of law and the doctrine of separation of powers do not mean nor require that the Chief Justice be immune from criticism or impeachment,” the manifesto stated.
“As Chief Justice, CJ Corona should be the first to strengthen the Supreme Court as an institution. He discharges this burden well when he shows judicial statesmanship and independence but abandons such duty when, by official actions he shows marked subservience to the person who appointed him Chief Justice. For the Supreme Court will be a credible court of last resort only if it is a court of moral force.”
The signatories to the manifesto were Raoul Angangco (National President from 1995-1997), Jose Aguila Grapilon (1997-1999), Arthur Lim (1999-2001), Teofilo Pilando (2001-2003) , and former Solicitor-General Jose Anselmo Cadiz (2003-2006).
They said it is the duty of the President “as leader and father of the nation…to speak in the strongest terms possible whenever the decisions of the Court or the official actuations of the Chief Justice no longer serve the best interest of the nation. After all, the welfare of the people is the highest law.”
They added that the House of Representatives cannot be faulted for speedily acting on Corona’s impeachment.
“It exercised its constitutional prerogative to initiate impeachment and placed the country on notice that the elected representatives of the people are holding the Chief Justice accountable for his actions as specified in the Articles of Impeachment even as the power to determine guilt or innocence devolves upon the Senate,” they said.
The stand of the former IBP national presidents is contrary to the stand of the IBP who said that the “impeachment has placed on trial not only the Chief Justice but the entire Supreme Court.”
The IBP, in its statement, said that by impeaching Corona based on decisions issued by the Supreme Court, “the House is in effect arrogating unto itself the power to interpret the law over and above the Supreme Court. Such an impeachment has transformed the House of Representatives as the higher interpreter of what the law is, a clear encroachment on the prerogatives exclusively vested by the Constitution in the Supreme Court itself.”
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