De Lima on Corona media blitz: Unbecoming
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Thursday lambasted Chief Justice Renato Corona for “acting like a politician” by embarking on a media blitz to hit back at his critics, describing his move as “conduct unbecoming” of the country’s top jurist.
“He’s not supposed to be a politician. He is the highest official of the judiciary, which ought to be completely nonpartisan,” De Lima told reporters.
The justice secretary said Corona’s position required him to be “devoid of any political and partisan elements or personalities.”
“I share with some observations that it was really unbecoming of a Chief Justice,” she said, adding that his “actuations and behavior show that he has other agenda.”
‘It’s our turn’
But Corona defended his decision to appear in several television and radio programs to speak about the allegations hurled against him by the prosecution and Ana Basa, his wife’s first cousin, a few days before his lawyers were set to present their own evidence in his impeachment trial in the Senate.
In an interview with radio dwIZ, the Chief Justice said he had wanted to grant requests for media interviews, but his lawyers advised him to wait for the appropriate time.
He denied the prosecution’s claims that he was engaging in a “defense by publicity,” noting that the lawmakers who impeached him in the House of Representatives attacked him in the media even before the impeachment proceedings began.
“They want the people to listen only to them. That’s not right… They had their time. Now, it’s our turn,” Corona said in Filipino.
He said the House prosecutors mounted a “trial by publicity” to malign him when they “failed to get what they wanted in the impeachment court.”
While Corona has the right to defend himself in public, De Lima said he should just present his evidence before the Senate impeachment court.
“Why does he have to do that? Remember there has been a couple of instances when he delivered scathing remarks belonging only to a political stage. Now, he’s hopping from one station to another with all of those interviews,” De Lima said.
“Of course, he has a right to defend himself… But to do those things, things that are normally the territory of politicians, that’s too unbecoming of a chief magistrate.”
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