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Impeachment of Renato Corona

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Renato Corona, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines was impeached on December 12, 2011. Corona was the third official, after President Joseph Estrada on 2000 and Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez earlier on 2011, to be impeached by the House of Representatives. Corona was perceived as an ally of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who had appointed him as chief justice of the Supreme Court, days after the 2010 presidential election. This comes after the Supreme Court ruled that the president’s ban on appointments does not extend to the judiciary. Since then, the Supreme Court has been accused of ruling unfavorably of the Aquino administration in cases concerning Arroyo. The Senate, which had already convened as an impeachment court, began the trial on January 16, 2012. This is the second impeachment trial in history, as Gutierrez resigned prior to the trial. On the December 12, 2011 flag-raising ceremony at the Supreme Court, Corona revealed that there was “a secret plan to oust me from office by any means, fair or foul.” Corona said that he would not resign.[7] Later in the day, a caucus amongst Aquino’s allies in the House of Representative was called. Minority leader Edcel Lagman said that discussion amongst Aquino’s allies heightened when the Committee on Justice passed an impeachment case involving Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo on his alleged plagiarism.

Lagman further said that if the vote passed, he would question its “legal and factual basis.”[8] The deputy presidential spokesperson, on the other hand, stated that the Palace “is not privy to the discussions of the Liberal Party in the House.”[9] At the conclusion of majority bloc’s caucus, Committee on Justice Chairman Niel Tupas Jr. presented the impeachment complaint; after the presentation, only two representatives asked for more questions, while an overwhelming majority asked to sign the complaint. He said that there were no instructions from the Palace to impeach Corona, nor was the pork barrel of representatives who did not sign would be held back, but he said that he informed the president of their decision to impeach Corona, and that the president supported it. The House of Representatives then voted in session to endorse the complaint, getting 188 votes, well above the one-third (95) of the members required by the constitution.[10] Navotas representative Toby Tiangco resigned from the majority bloc, and the chairmanship of the Committee on Metro Manila development, after the impeachment was passed by the House of Representatives.

Tiangco said that the complaint was approved without the members of Congress scrutinizing it.[11] Batangas 2nd district representative Hermilando Mandanas, who did not sign the complaint, was relieved of the chairmanship of the Committee on Ways and Means. Mandanas quoted Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. on saying the the Aquino administration wanted his removal.[12]The majority bloc was not surprised with Tiangco’s resignation from the majority, with Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II describing Tiangco as a “maverick” and has “more than many times identified himself with the minority.”[13] The Senate received the articles of impeachment on December 13. Tupas and Reynaldo Umali delivered the articles of impeachment, with Tupas saying that the process was not railroaded.[14]

Employees of the judiciary staged a court holiday on December 13 in support of Corona; this meant many courts were closed.[15] In a speech delivered in front of Supreme Court employees, Corona branded Aquino as building a dictatorship, stated that he will not quit, and that his conviction will result in Aquino controlling all three branches of government.[16] The Executive replied via Executive Secretary Edwin Lacierda that it not out to control all branches of government but wanted a independent Supreme Court, told Corona to go on a leave on absence, and that the impeachment is “not an attack on the judiciary. This is a case of accountability against Chief Justice Corona.” [17]

Noynoy Aquino – A Leader in His Own Right

Noynoy Aquino is a leader who can lead the Filipino people toward social change through good governance, transparency, and honest leadership. While Noynoy is known as a low profile son of President Cory Aquino and Ninoy, he is a leader in his own right and would stand out in times of crisis, which is a proven test of a leader. Unknown to Filipinos, Noynoy was instrumental in the survival of government and democracy when, in November 1989, renegade soldiers wanted to seize the government and perpetuate themselves to power. It was the bloodiest coup d’etat staged by the Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM) and soldiers loyal to the Marcos administration. The coup attempt left 99 people dead and 570 wounded. Noynoy would take an active role that would help in the eventual defeat of the coup plotters. For one, he knew the rapacity, anti-democratic and anti-people character of the coup plotters because during a previous coup, in 1987, he was ambushed by the coup plotters along Malacañang.

Noynoy was hit by five bullets and three of his four escorts were killed protecting him. A bullet is still embedded in his neck. Moreover, the coup plotters would want to perpetuate themselves to power, declare Martial Law, and plunge again the people into oppression. At the height of the 1989 coup, Noynoy would call people close to his father, Ninoy, to assemble a group to help crush the ongoing coup. These are the people whom he could trust and would prove crucial in defeating the rebels. In the early morning of November 30, Noynoy called me and asked me to organize a group to crush the ongoing coup. I immediately called up Ret. Gen. Salvador Mison, Gen. Pete Navarro, Charlie Avila, Wilo Layug, Lingoy Alcuaz, Gerry Esguerra and Steve Psinakis. The group met at the office of Gen, Jake Carbonell in Pasig. The group under the leadership of Gen, Mison was given authority by the Palace to recapture Camp Aguinaldo and Camp Crame. The order was given to Gen. Carbonell by Gen. Mison to attack Camp Aguinaldo.

The rest is history as Cory Aquino finished her term peacefully and the people elected Fidel Ramos as the next president. This single action of Noynoy proved to all that he is a man of action. His decisiveness in taking an active role is worth noting when Philippine democracy was imperiled by forces who are loyal only to themselves and not the freedom and democracy that was hard won by the Filipinos through the peaceful EDSA Revolution. But what was so interesting is that he did not boast of his role in crushing the coup. He simply hid this information and the nation never knew of his participation. This is the kind of leader that should be emulated by the Filipinos, particularly the youth. A leader that does not boast of his achievement. A leader who can lead in the worst crisis in government. This is Noynoy Aquino. A leader, and worthy to be the son of Ninoy and Cory Aquino.

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