It was an unprecedented move: the head of the executive branch of government “challenging” the head of the judicial branch. In an apparent effort to “fast-track the wheels of justice”, Pres. Benigno Aquino III initiated moves to oust or replace Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona.
It should be remembered that Corona is a “midnight appointee” of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Corona replaced the retiring Reynato Puno on May 17, 2010, a week after the 2010 national elections, and six weeks before Aquino III was inaugurated President.
Since then, Aquino and Corona were at odds with each other, with the President taking potshots at the Chief Justice on several occasions. (Corona served as GMA’s first Chief of Staff upon her ascension to the Presidency until April 2002.)
“WHEELS OF JUSTICE.” December 5, 2011. During the first National Criminal Justice Summit held at the Manila Hotel, Pres. Aquino III took jabs at the Supreme Court’s recent decisions. Once again, Aquino questioned Corona’s legitimacy as Supreme Court Chief Justice.
“Kung may isang lingkod bayan na tumatanaw ng utang na loob hindi sa taumbayan na siyang dapat pagmulan ng kapangyarihan kundi sa isang padron na isiniksik siya sa puwesto, maasahan po kaya natin siyang intindihin ang interes ng Pilipino?”
(“Now there is one public servant who owes a debt of gratitude not to the people who should be the source of our power, but to a patron who squeezed him into the position, will we rely on him to look at the interest of the people?”)
– Pres. Benigno Aquino III, in a speech, referring to Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona
IMPEACHMENT. December 12, 2011. One hundred eighty-eight Congressmen, mostly administration allies, signed the motion to impeach Chief Justice Renato Corona for “betrayal of public trust, violation of the Constitution, and graft and corruption”. The impeachment trial will be held at the Philippine Senate next year.
CORONA RESPONDS. December 14, 2011. In front of the Supreme Court building in Manila, Chief Justice Renato Corona responded to accusations and to his impeachment. He said he will not resign from his post, and will fight until the end.
“I have not wronged you, Mr. President. I don’t have any sins against the people. I oppose this relentless persecution, intimidation and bullying. I oppose this dictatorship that President Benigno Simeon Aquino III is slowly establishing.”
“Mr. President, I am the primus inter pares (first among equals) in the Supreme Court. If you don’t understand this, it means that I should be at the forefront in the fight to defend the Supreme Court. We will not allow them to disrespect and trample on our democracy and the Supreme Court.”
– Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona
Also on the Covers (December 13):
- The appointment of Imus Bishop Luis Antonio “Chito” Tagle as the 32nd Manila Archbishop
- The change of command in the AFP, from outgoing Gen. Eduardo Oban to incoming AFP Chief Lt. Gen. Jesse Dellosa
Front Pages 2011 is Pinoy Index’s way of looking back at notable events of 2011, as presented on the front page of the three leading broadsheet newspapers in the country: the Manila Bulletin, the Philippine Daily Inquirer, and the Philippine Star.