Corona’s Wikipedia entry defaced; jurist referred to as ‘thief justice’
MANILA, Philippines—The campaign to unseat Chief Justice Renato Corona is getting nasty.
The Wikipedia entry on the country’s embattled top magistrate was repeatedly defaced Tuesday, with one revision describing Corona as “Thief Justice of the Philippines” in what could be a reference to his being an alleged “midnight” appointee of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
The changes at the user-generated online encyclopedia came less than two weeks before the Senate is to begin the impeachment trial of Corona for alleged betrayal of public trust and culpable violations of the Constitution.
The nasty entries were also made amid the controversy over the doctorate degree Corona earned from the University of Santo Tomas earlier this year.
One revision referred to Corona’s impeachment at the House of Representatives last December 12. It said, “The Filipino people is hoping for his impeachment (meaning conviction) at the Senate impeachment trial.”
The entry was followed by a sentence saying, “Rumors are circulating that the Supreme Court Administrator—‘Midas Marquez’— is having an intimate relationship with the Chief Justice…”
The malicious information about Corona had been removed as of Wednesday. But anyone could still view the changes by clicking the “revision history” on the Wikipedia entry. By its nature, the website allows users to make changes in its entries.
Corona and his legal team are in the thick of preparations for the impeachment trial, which is set to begin when the Senate resumes session on January 16. On that day, senators are also expected to decide on his motion for a preliminary hearing over concerns that many of the congressmen who signed the impeachment complaint had not actually read it.
Before Corona’s trial could officially begin, an new news Web site, rappler.com, came out with a story alleging that UST had bent its own rules by granting him a doctorate degree with top honors even though he did not submit a dissertation.
The story, which was also published in by the Inquirer on New Year’s Day, also claimed that Corona had gone beyond the residency limit to complete the course.
Marquez earlier said the rappler.com story “may be linked” to the upcoming trial of Corona. “It comes at the most interesting time. Maybe it’s all part of it,” he said in a press briefing.
UST said Corona had attended all classes and completed all requirements for the Ph.D. But instead of a dissertation, a scholarly treatise on environmental law was delivered by Corona before a big audience, according to the school.
“There is no truth to the allegation that the University of Santo Tomas broke its rules to favor Chief Justice Renato Corona who graduated with the degree of Doctor of Laws from the University,” it said in a statement.
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