The Supreme Court's 8-5 decision to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) to stop the Senate impeachment court from looking into Chief Justice Renato Corona's alleged dollar accounts in PSBank only served to open up more questions about the Chief Justice's apparent wealth.
For one, if CJ Corona has such dollar accounts, were these accounts listed in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN)? And if they weren't, how can the Chief Justice explain them? As it is, there are apparent discrepancies between Corona's peso deposits in PSBank, and his listing of assets in his SALN, which may already be difficult for Corona and his defense team to justify.
I agree, though, with the TRO, since there apparently is a law protecting the confidentiality of such accounts. The Senate cannot simply set that law aside in its supposed quest to ferret out the truth. However, even if the accounts were not brought to light, the fact that they apparently exist may be damning to Corona's defense. As DJB in Philippine Commentary, noted,
"SOME PEOPLE ARE ASKING what in the world is the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court doing with five secret dollar bank accounts? (emphasis from the blog)
that he is now running to his own collegial buddies at Padre Faura to
keep absolutely secret from the prying eyes of that rights-trampling
crowd at the Senate Impeachment Trial?"
What the Supreme Court didn't do is issue a TRO to stop the actual impeachment trial from proceeding. More than the TRO on the dollar accounts, this action probably could have triggered a constitutional crisis. While noted constitutional law expert Fr. Joaquin Bernas, SJ, has noted that the Supreme Court can intervene in the impeachment trial if it determines there is a grave abuse of discretion, the Senate would have to agree that such an abuse of discretion has been committed, and if it doesn't agree with the Supreme Court ruling, what then?
At this point, even if Corona will be acquitted by the Senate, his capacity to serve as Chief Justice will be severely impaired, due to both the propaganda war the President is waging, and the proceedings of the impeachment trial itself. As Inquirer columnist Neal Cruz notes:
"The sensible thing for him to do is to quit now while the quitting is
good. If he wants to save the nation from a constitutional crisis and
from dividing into two opposing camps, he should resign and ride into
the sunset. What a statesmanly statement that would make. Then he would
be remembered more kindly by the nation and the history books will even
It remains to be seen, though, if Corona has the honor to do so. His acceptance of Arroyo's Supreme Court-blessed midnight appointment says a lot about his character.