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Chief Justice on Trial

Carpio is acting chief justice while Aquino searches for Corona replacement

May 30, 2012 7:41am
(Updated 8:01 a.m.) - After Chief Justice Renato Corona's historic ouster, Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, the next most senior justice at the high court is expected to replace him in an acting capacity as the highest judicial official in the country.
 
According to Supreme Court rules, Carpio will have to sit as chief magistrate in an acting capacity until President Benigno Aquino III finds a replacement for Corona, who on Tuesday was removed from office after a 20-3 guilty verdict from the Senate impeachment court.

Asked when Aquino would name Corona's replacement, palace spokesperson Valte said that under the Constitution, the President has 90 days to appoint the next Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
 
“From what I understand, the position will be vacant because the decision of the Senate impeachment court is immediately executory,” she added.
 
Until the President names the new Chief Justice, the most senior of the SC Associate Justices takes over as acting Chief Justice, she said.
 
Carpio, having been appointed to the high court ahead of Corona, had seniority among the high magistrates. In 2010, however, after Carpio said President-elect Benigno C. Aquino III should be allowed to appoint the next chief justice, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo—the outgoing president—appointed Corona as chief justice.
 
Carpio is the co-founder of the Carpio Villaraza & Cruz law office (CVCLAW), which later became the Villaraza Cruz Marcelo & Angangco law office.
 
The law partnership is known in legal circles as “The Firm," in reference to the 1993 film bearing the same title, which was based on the 1991 novel by John Grisham. It tells the story of an American law firm with powerful but shadowy connections in government and the business sector.
 
Corona had earlier accused "The Firm" of spearheading a smear campaign against him, a claim the firm denied.
 
Aquino will have to choose an appointee to replace Corona from a list of nominees to be submitted by the Judicial and Bar Council, which is tasked to receive and screen applications and nominations for a judicial post.
 
As acting chief justice, Carpio will also head the JBC.
 
Defense lawyers visit Corona
 
Meanwhile, defense lawyers trooped to The Medical City Tuesday night to check on Corona, who has been confined at the hospital since last week after suffering from hypoglycemia.
 
Corona suffers from diabetes and has had two heart bypass operations.

Lead defense counsel Serafin Cuevas led the panel in meeting with Corona at The Medical City, radio dzBB's Divine Caraecle reported Tuesday.

Cuevas and members of the defense panel arrived at The Medical City at 8 p.m. and met with Corona.
 
"As lawyers, we have to be very honest with him. And just tell him what happened at the hearing today," defense lawyer and spokesperson Rico Paolo Quicho told reporters Tuesday.
 
The lawyer said his team has not yet discussed whether or not to elevate the Senate's guilty verdict to the Supreme Court.
 
"We have not yet talked about what we’ll do after or the near future... Wala pa kaming formal na desisyon," Quicho said.

In an interview over dzBB Wednesday morning, defense lawyer Karen Jimeno said the chief justice has not yet decided whether he would file for a petition for writ of certiorari regarding the impeachment court's guilty verdict or not.
 
"May ibang may mga pananaw na yung remedy dito na petition for certiorari ay maaaring available, pero syempre kailangan nilang tignan in this case kung meron ba talagang 'grave abuse of discretion' doon sa impeachment court noong lumabas itong desisyon," Jimeno said.

"Magiging iba-iba siguro yung paningin dito but wala namang desisyon na mag-file ng case ng petition para doon sa impeachment case," she said.
 
The Senate had earlier insisted it has sole jurisdiction over impeachment cases, while Corona's lead defense counsel Serafin Cuevas had repeatedly said they can still file a petition for review with the SC if the impeachment court had committed grave abuse of discretion in hearing the case.
 
For now, Corona and his team of lawyers said they were respecting the Senate impeachment court's decision.
 
"Kailangan respetuhin ang pagpapasya ng senator-judges... From the beginning we already said we will respect whatever decision the Senate may come up with," Quicho said.
 
In a three-page signed statement, Corona said he respected the guilty verdict but lamented how the proceedings seemed to have been tainted by "dirty politics [masamang pulitika]." – with a report from Amita Legaspi/KG/HS/YA, GMA News



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