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Chief Justice on Trial

Ex-IBP head seeks TRO on Corona impeach case

December 20, 2011 2:49pm
(Updated 6:02 p.m.) A former president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines on Tuesday asked the Supreme Court to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the impeachment case filed by the House of Representatives against Chief Justice Renato Corona.
In a 23-page petition for certiorari and inhibition, Vicente Millora said the impeachment case — signed by 188 congressmen last week — should be declared null and void because the lawmakers "acted with grave and blatant abuse of discretion."
The former IBP president said the impeachment case "did not go through proper impeachment process, was passed with undue haste, railroaded, fast-tracked, signed but not sworn to by the 188 respondents."
Millora claimed the lawmakers "blindly" signed the impeachment complaint, which was designed to "disrespect and ridicule" both Corona and the Supreme Court.
The Articles of Impeachment — which stated eight grounds for Corona's impeachment — was transmitted Wednesday last week to the Senate, which will sit as an impeachment court to hear the case middle of next month.
Millora asked the Supreme Court to prevent the Senate from pushing through with the impeachment trial pending the resolution of his petition. 
Millora said he has "legal standing" to file the petition for certiorari and prohibition because the Supreme Court is a "passive institution and cannot act to protect itself, unless its jurisdiction is properly invoked." 
In his petition, Millora contested each of the eight grounds for Corona's impeachment. He said the supposed bias of justices like Corona — as alleged in the First Article of Impeachment — "does not necessarily mean that the decision of the Supreme Court is unjust."
Millora stressed that Corona's vote is just one of 15 votes from all magistrates, meaning "any decision of the Supreme Court is not the decision of any Justice, even if he is the ponente."
Millora also said granting that Corona has failed to file his statement of assets, liabilities, and net worth, it would be a "mere violation of a statute, not of the Constitution, much less culpapable" as alleged in Article II of the impeachment complaint.
The petitioner also said Article III of the complaint — pertaining to the court's "flip-flopping" in the labor case involving flight attendants from the Philippine Airlines — did not state how Corona could have "influenced the minds" of his fellow justices in deciding to re-open a decision that was already final and executory.
In the respective cases of the controversial 16 newly-created cities, and the elevation of the Dinagat Island to a province, Millora insisted the SC "has the power to relax or suspend their application when in its judgment it is necessary in the interest of truth and justice."
The court was earlier criticized after it reversed several times its decisions on the two cases.
Millora said the 188 lawmakers questioning the issuance of a TRO allowing former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to leave the country are making an "unmitigated interference in the exercise of the powers and duties of the Supreme Court."
Lastly, Millora said before the impeachment case was approved, Corona should have first been given the chance to answer the charges hurled against him at the level of the House justice committee. - KBK, GMA News
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