MANILA, Philippines (Nov. 23, 2011) – Senators Franklin Drilon and Francis Pangilinan, both members of the President Aquino’s Liberal Party, call on Chief Justice Renato Corona to inhibit from deliberations on the cases involving former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to erase suspicions in the public’s mind that the Supreme Court is biased in favor of the former first couple.
At the weekly Kapihan sa Senado, Drilon said the main reason for Corona to inhibit himself was his being chief of staff and spokesman of Arroyo when she was vice president.
“As chief of staff of then Vice President GMA, the now Chief Justice Corona had to take positions that required him to engage in partisan politics,” he said.
Drilon said Corona’s appointment as chief justice in May 2010 stirred a lot of controversy since it came so close to the end of Arroyo’s term and many considered him a “midnight appointee.”
“Of course, this has been legally affirmed by the Supreme Court itself, but nevertheless, in the public perception, in the bar of public opinion, it cannot be denied that his appointment as chief justice in May 2010 would create the impression in the public mind that he is a favored Justice of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo,” he said.
Drilon said that in addition, Corona has also kept an “untarnished record” in always voting favorably for the Arroyo administration on issues related to its controversial policies.
“He was, consistently without fail, supporting GMA in all the cases that came before the Supreme Court involving then President GMA during the tenure of the former president when cases came up before the Supreme Court,” he said.
Drilon said the decision of President Aquino to take his oath of office before then Supreme Court associate justice Conchita Carpio-Morales created the impression that Corona was disappointed and carried a personal animosity towards Aquino. “Regardless of all the denials, the Chief Justice is human after all and of course he was hurt when the President did not ask him to administer the oath,” he said.
“I submit that like Caesars’ wife, the Supreme Court, as well as the Chief Justice, must be beyond suspicion on its objectivity and impartiality.”
Drilon said public trust is critical to the SC’s strength, and when the confidence of the people on the institution is eroded, this would significantly weaken it.
“We cannot afford to have a situation where the confidence of the people in the court is eroded,” he said.
“This is a very frightening situation where the people will not believe that the court is impartial. It is for that reason, for the sake of the Supreme Court, for the sake of our democratic institutions, we call on Chief Justice Renato Corona to inhibit himself from the deliberations involving the cases of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.”
Drilon said Corona should seriously consider public perception as a valid reason for calls for him to inhibit himself from the deliberations.
“This is a very trying time,” he said.
“We are citing the reasons why we are asking for his inhibition. If he does not listen to this appeal, we cannot do anything because inhibition is addressed to a personal decision of the Chief Justice. Certainly, it will not be well for the strengthening of the institution, of the Supreme Court.”
Pangilinan said Corona should do what is best for the SC as an institution and inhibit himself from the cases of his former boss.
“We support the calls for CJ Corona to inhibit himself from the cases involving his former boss, Gloria,” he said. “This will help spare the Supreme Court from doubts that it is biased in favor of the former president.”
At the SC, spokesman Midas Marquez said only Corona can decide whether he would inhibit from the deliberations on Arroyo’s petitions questioning actions of the Department of Justice (DOJ) in electoral fraud charges against her.
“Inhibition is always a personal decision that depends on the judgment of a justice on his or her objectivity in handling a case,” he said. “If there’s such call for the Chief Justice to inhibit, that would have to be formally manifested and directed to him.”
At Malacañang, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said he could not make any comment as he had not spoken with President Aquino on the matter. (From Philstar.com)