House minority to probe Corona charges vs Aquino
The House minority will look into allegations by Chief Justice Renato Corona that President Benigno Aquino III attempted to influence the Supreme Court in its rulings on the Philippine Truth Commission and the Hacienda Luisita cases and actively seek his retirement from office.
“We’d want to determine the gravity of this act of sending emissaries to the Chief Justice and whether this constituted a serious breach of the independence of the judiciary,” Minority Leader Danilo Suarez said in an interview.
“Our view is the independence of each branch of government should be kept sacred, especially between the executive and the judiciary,” Suarez said.
The minority bloc has reviewed several cases that could serve as a basis to impeach the President, but it has so far ended up with nothing concrete or credible to file against the President.
Suarez said the minority would hold a caucus today to discuss Corona’s charges and decide whether Mr. Aquino’s purported attempt to interfere in judicial matters, if proven, would constitute culpable violation of the Constitution, one of the grounds for the President’s impeachment.
In radio and television interviews last week, Corona accused the President of sending emissaries to gauge the Chief Justice’s support for the truth commission and go after corruption cases involving former President and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, her family and allies.
The Supreme Court has declared unconstitutional the executive order creating the commission.
Corona has said that the impeachment case against him also stemmed from the court’s unanimous decision to distribute the sugar plantation owned by the President’s family to its workers.
The Chief Justice said Mr. Aquino had sent an unnamed senator to urge him to resign after his impeachment in December last year.
Corona said he had previously turned down a power-sharing agreement offered by Senator Teofisto Guingona III, in which he would retire earlier than the expiration of his term in 2018 and allow Associate Justice Antonio Carpio to take over from him. Corona has accused Carpio of coveting his post and plotting his ouster.
Bayan Muna president and former lawmaker Satur Ocampo said sending an emissary to a high court magistrate did not “befit the presidency.”
“Given the evidence of naïvete, inexperience and impulsiveness so far demonstrated by the President, it is not farfetched to assume that he did try to convince or influence the CJ through a private meeting. That would have been understandable if they had been on friendly terms,” Ocampo said, referring to the President’s desire to replace Corona whom he derided as a midnight appointee of Arroyo.
“It would be right to find out if the emissary acted on his volition or not,” he said.
Prosecution spokesperson and Aurora Representative Juan Edgardo Angara said Corona’s charges had no bearing on the impeachment case.
“The prosecution remains focused on the case and is determined to remain impervious to any attempt by the opposing camp to bring up any nonrelated or peripheral issues,” Angara said.
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