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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Corona Impeachment Case: Opening Salvos

As we make our way towards the year 2012, the political fireworks haven't ended.

Embattled Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona submitted his reply to the eight Articles of Impeachment to the Senate. On initial reading, it's interesting to note the following things:

1. Unlike former Chief Justice Hilario Davide, who was also facing impeachment by pro-Erap congressmen, Corona is not respected by the public, as shown by his negative approval ratings, the lowest for any post-EDSA I sitting Chief Justice. Thus, the "state of bewilderment" that he claims the nation is in only exists in the minds of the pro-Corona and pro-GMA camps. One will also note that there appears to be no public outcry over Corona's impeachment, the same lack of outcry over the arrest of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

2. The snub of President Aquino, while rude and a probable breach of protocol, is consistent with the President's assertion that Corona's appointment as Chief Justice was a midnight appointment by outgoing President Arroyo.

3. Among the anti-Aquino crowd, the common thread being woven is that the impeachment of Corona is in retaliation for the Supreme Court's decision on Hacienda Luisita. Corona's response to the articles includes this insinuation.

4. Corona assails the impeachment complaint as "a partisan orgy, devoid of any mature deliberation and of lawful purpose whatsoever". I wonder what his thoughts on the impeachment complaints against Arroyo (quashed by a "paid" House) would have been.

5. It's interesting how Corona's response attempts to paint himself as a defender of democracy, that the impeachment complaint against him is an "attack on the Constitution itself".

After his opening statements, Corona answers, point by point, each of the articles of impeachment. This is something I'll have to devote some time to study. I'll probably write about each article of impeachment in separate posts

Predictably, the House prosecution panel, through Marikina Rep. Miro Quimbo, labeled Corona's response as "weak", although the main reason Rep. Quimbo gave was that there was no verification, e.g. Corona's signature on the document.

What I'm not too clear about is the argument of prosecution panel member and Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares that the assertion of Corona that the Supreme Court's decisions are collegial does not matter because each justice is supposed to be independent and impartial. According to Colmenares, despite the collegial decision, a justice can be considered biased towards a party, and therefore be impeached for this bias. So, the prosecution panel plans to treat CJ Corona as an individual justice, which, I guess, is in line with the assertion that only Corona, and not the judiciary as an institution, is to be convicted.

With these opening salvos in place, it looks like it's going to be an interesting impeachment trial, to say the least.

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