Corona Conviction: The End of Judicial Independence Begins
It’s final! Chief Justice Renato Corona has been convicted by the Senate sitting as an impeachment court. With 23 votes cast, 20 members of the Senate sitting as the impeachment body have convicted Corona for misdeclaring the exact amount of his assets in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN). I disagree that the chief justice was convicted for betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the Philippine Constitution. I believe a proper distinction must be made.
Corona is the first impeachable official of the land to be convicted via impeachment.
Actually, the end of judicial independence began during the term of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. And it’s very ironic that ousted chief justice Corona is an Arroyo appointee. However, we are now about to witness a new cycle of executive- or Aquino-controlled judiciary with the ouster of Corona.
- Edgardo Angara
- Alan Peter Cayetano
- Pia Cayetano
- Franklin Drilon
- Francis Escudero
- Jinggoy Estrada
- Teofisto Guingona III
- Gregorio Honasan II
- Panfilo Lacson
- Lito Lapid
- Loren Legarda
- Sergio Osmeña III
- Francis Pangilinan
- Aqulino “Koko” Pimentel III
- Ralph Recto
- Ramon Bong Revilla Jr.
- Vicente Sotto III
- Antonio Trillanes IV
- Manuel Villar
- Juan Ponce Enrile
Meanwhile, the following senator-judges voted to acquit the chief justice:
- Joker Arroyo
- Miriam Defensor-Santiago
- Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
The result is not surprising at all. Many of the senator-judges who convicted Corona are reelectionists. The reelectionist senators include Alan Peter Cayetano, Francis Escudero, Gregorio Honasan, Loren Legarda, and Aquilino Pimentel 3rd.
On the other hand, the three judges who voted “not guilty” include Joker Arroyo, a non-reelectionist, Defensor-Santiago who is about to assume her new position as judge of the International Criminal Court, and Marcos Jr., whose father is the number 1 nemesis of the President’s father, Ninoy.
The impeachment trial started on January 16 this, when the Senate began hearing evidence on the following Articles of Impeachment:
- Article I: Partiality of Corona to Mrs. Arroyo in Supreme Court decisions
- Article II: Non-disclosure of properties in Corona’s statements of assets, liabilities and net worth or SALN
- Article III: Lack of probity, integrity, and independence in the FASAP vs. PAL case
- Article IV: Irregularities in the issuance of the status quo ante order on the impeachment proceedings of former Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez
- Article V: Gerrymandering in the creation of 16 new cities and the declaration of Dinagat Island as a province)
- Article VI: Improper investigation of Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo’s plagiarism case
- Article VII: Irregularities in the issuance of a temporary restraining order for Mrs. Arroyo during her attempt to leave the country last November
- Article VIII: Failure and refusal to account for the Judiciary Development Fund and Special Allowance for the Judiciary
However, the prosecution team later decided to rest its case and drop Articles I, IV, V, VI, and VIII.
Let me say this: The guilty verdict is clearly a sham. Luck does happen [in favor of the president and the prosecution]!