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Chief Justice on Trial

Chief Justice Corona: 'I won't give in to Aquino dictatorship'

December 14, 2011 2:40pm

(Updated 6:11 p.m.) Facing hundreds of supporters from different courts in Metro Manila, embattled Chief Justice Renato Corona on Wednesday vowed he would not resign from his post and not give in to the "dictates" of President Benigno Aquino III.
 
"Hindi natin hahayaang alipustahin at lapastanganin ang demokrasya at ang Korte Suprema," Corona told the rallyists, many of them clad in black shirts, at the Supreme Court grounds.
 
"Marahil sila ay umaasa na kami na hindi maaaring madiktahan ay magbibitiw... Hindi kami magbibitiw sa tungkulin," he added.
 
Corona, who was impeached by the House of Representatives on Monday, also criticized members of Aquino's Liberal Party and branded the move as "blackmail." He said the 188 lawmakers who signed the impeachment complaint against him "rushed" the case.
 
The chief justice warned that if he is convicted, Aquino would gain control over all three branches of government.
 
"Kung sakaling magtagumpay ang impeachment na ito laban sa akin, ano sa palagay ninyo ang mangyayari?  Simple lang po mga mahal kong mga kababayan — kay Ginoong Aquino na ang Gabinete, kontrolado  na niya ang kongreso, at hawak na niya ang Korte Suprema," he said.
 
Corona said the impeachment case was leveled against him to that Aquino can appoint someone to the Supreme Court.

"Itong impeachment ay dala ng kasakiman na magkaroon ng isang Korte Suprema na kayang diktahan, na nakukuha sa tingin, at magkakandarapang ipatupad ang kanilang bawat hiling," he said.

He asserted that he and the other Supreme Court magistrates are independent and are not biased, and added that he treats the impeachment complaint as an affront not just to him but to every Filipino.

"Walang katotohanan na si Renato Corona lamang ang gusto nilang tanggalin sa Korte Suprema. Naniniwala po ako na tayong lahat ang kinakalaban, pati na ang mga walang-malay nilang tagahanga. Sapagkat ang tunay na layunin ay wasakin ang hudikatura, wasakin ang ating demokrasya, at pairalin ang utos ng mahal na hari," he said.

"Ito ang patutunguhan ng baluktot na 'Daang Matuwid,'" said Corona, referring to President Aquino's signature platform of government when the latter assumed office last year.

Corona also recalled the incident last week during the Criminal Justice Summit at the Manila Hotel, where Aquino lambasted the Supreme Court with Corona himself in attendance.

"Kamakailan lamang, tinuya na naman po tayo ng harap-harapan. Tulad ng tunay na Kristiyanong Batangueño, tayo po ay nagpigil, at ito po ay ating pinalampas. Wala po akong kasalanan sa inyo Ginoong Pangulo. Wala po akong kasalanan sa taong-bayan," Corona said.

Around 500 judges and court employees in Metro Manila walked out of their offices earlier in the day and marched to the Supreme Court to show support for Corona, whose wife Cristina was beside him throughout his speech.  Those who participated in the movement came from the Court of Tax Appeals, the Quezon Regional Trial Court, Manila RTC, Caloocan RTC, Mandaluyong RTC, and Pasay RTC.



Prominent supporters

Among the prominent judges who showed up at the event was Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes of RTC Branch 221 in Quezon City, who called off Wednesday's Maguindanao massacre trial so she could attend the protest action. Solis-Reyes told GMA News Online that she has reset the day’s hearing for Friday.

Also joining the protest movement was Judge Silvino Pampilo of the Manila RTC Branch 26, whose car was bombed in April 2010. He has handled cases involving former military Gen. Jovito Palparan and former First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo.

"Andito kami para ipakita ang suporta kay Chief Justice Corona. Kung mai-impeach siya, magkakaroon ng constitutional crisis. Magkakaroon ng tinatawag na mob rule. Hindi na maniniwala at susunod ang mga tao sa mga desisyon namin," Pampilo told reporters shortly after arriving at the SC grounds from the Manila City Hall, where Corona's supporters massed earlier in the day.

While Corona's supporters cheered as he delivered his speech, a different set of supporters from the Bangsamoro Solidarity Movement gathered right outside the gates of the Supreme Court. The group is calling for Corona’s resignation for the supposed delay in the resolution of Republic Act 10153 or the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Law.

Earlier, Malacañang insisted that the recent statements of Aquino and his allies against Corona were not acts of bullying but merely to make him accountable for his actions.
 
In an interview with radio dzBB, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said, "Hindi namin binu-bully ang Supreme Court. The statements of the President are klarong-klaro. It refers to the lack of partiality and integrity on the part of Chief Justice Corona."

When asked if the Palace had anything to do with the impeachment, Lacierda said, "So far wala."

Aquino has been critical of Corona ever since the latter was named Chief Justice by then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, a few days after Aquino emerged as the winner in the 2010 presidential polls, and a few weeks before Mrs. Arroyo stepped down from office. — LBG/YA/HS/KBK/KG, GMA News




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