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PHILIPPINES: Akbayan welcomes Corona conviction

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Akbayan welcomes the decision of the Senate Impeachment Court to render a guilty verdict against Chief Justice Renato Corona. We join the Filipino people in celebrating their historic victory against corruption. It is a clear reiteration of the Filipino people’s demand for justice, a triumph of truth and accountability over impunity.

The chief justice’s conviction is a welcome respite. The decision effectively paves the way for the restoration of independence and integrity to a judicial institution greatly undermined by corrupt interests. The verdict will also expedite the call to make Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her ilk answerable for their crimes against the people. Now the process of reform can finally begin in the high tribunal. At last, the process of exacting justice from a corrupt past can finally brought to fruition.

We believe Corona’s conviction is the logical conclusion to his loyal and opportunistic service to Arroyo. It is also the result of accepting a midnight appointment, a fruit from Arroyo’s poisonous tree. These are undeniable facts.

Not even Corona’s personal appearance before the impeachment court can cover up his transgressions. For one, his admitted ownership of expensive properties and bank accounts while stating that he and his family lived a “simple lifestyle” was not only out of touch but outside of the truth as well. His millions of peso and dollar bank accounts ran contrary to the amount of salary he earned as a public official even with his position. The doubts of many people as to Corona’s culpability have all gone and have been replaced by the certainty of his guilt.

Hence, we call on Chief Justice Renato Corona to respect the decision of the Senate impeachment court and immediately vacate his post. We strongly oppose any attempt from Corona to run to the Supreme Court to challenge the validity of the impeachment court’s verdict. Since the start of the trial, Corona has used the Supreme Court as a “legal armor” to protect himself from prosecution. Enough is enough. It’s time to face the music.

We also call on Supreme Court Administrator Midas Marquez to resign from his post. It is clear that Marquez has given up administering the Supreme Court, and has instead chosen to administer the Corona defense team. Like Corona, Marquez’s reputation and credibility are severely tarnished. As such, for the sake of consistency and the integrity of the high court, Marquez, too, must go.

Likewise, we urge the public to remain vigilant as the process of appointing a new Supreme Court chief justice begins. While we celebrate this important victory, we must remain on the guard as we search for an independent, competent and honest chief justice that the country deserves. While it is true that justice and accountability trumped corruption and impunity on this historic occasion, we must not be complacent. We did not struggled this hard just to squander our democratic gains. Now, more than ever, vigilance and active citizenship are demanded from the Filipino people.

Midas, too, must go

Akbayan calls on Supreme Court Administrator Midas Marquez to resign from his post. The last 5 months of the impeachment trial of former Chief Justice Renato Corona saw Marquez actively acting as Corona’s personal spokesperson and official administrator of the Corona defense team. Like Corona, Marquez’s reputation and credibility are severely tarnished. It is clear that Marquez, in his capacity as the Supreme Court administrator, used the powers of his office to unduly sway the public’s opinion on the impeachment case in Corona’s favor.

Marquez’s obvious partisanship also further reduced the public’s respect for the institution and ensured that the judicial branch became vulnerable to the machinations of vested interests. Marquez, with the backing of Corona, reduced the Supreme Court into a political machinery for consolidating support for his dethroned patron and compromised the day to day business of the court.

But even before the impeachment trial against Corona began, Marquez’s complicity in Corona’s actions to protect former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo such as his erroneous opinion on the temporary restraining order issued to Arroyo by the Supreme Court stating that it was executory, shows the same bias for the powerful and the corrupt as his superior, Corona. As such, for the sake of consistency and the integrity of the high court, Marquez, too, must go.

We believe that the value of integrity that we expect from the chief justice should likewise be practiced by the entire judiciary, Marquez included. Public office as a public trust must be given the dignity that it deserves. Sadly, such could not be said of the office of the Supreme Court Administrator. Marquez, like Corona, used his influence and power to debase the judiciary for personal gain.

While the Filipino people celebrate their victory in ensuring truth, justice and accountability triumphs in the judiciary, it is necessary that those who exercised their powers beyond that mandated by law to protect Corona should now be made accountable. The process of reform in the judiciary means that all public officials should be answerable for their actions regardless of rank or seniority.

http://www.akbayan.org.ph/