Share |

Aquino-appointed SC Justice declines Corona case

SC Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe seen here being sworn to office by President Aquino on September 16, 2011
SC Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe seen here being sworn to office by President Aquino on September 16, 2011.

MANILA, Philippines (Feb 16, 2012) - The petition of Chief Justice Renato Corona to stop his impeachment trial had to be raffled off for the second time after a Supreme Court (SC) Justice appointed by President Aquino declined to take charge of the case.

An insider yesterday told The Philippine Star that Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe does not want to be the ponente or member-in-charge of Corona’s case.

“She declined to be ponente in the case, but the reason was not clear,” said the source who asked not to be identified because of confidentiality rule on raffling of cases.

“Anyway, the justices always have that option to decline being assigned to write decision in a case just as they have the option to inhibit.”

After being raffled off again, the case has landed on the table of Associate Justice Martin Villarama Jr., an appointee of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the source added.

Earlier, Bernabe was assigned as member-in-charge of the separate petition of Philippine Savings Bank (PSBank) against the subpoena of the impeachment court on the five foreign currency accounts reportedly in the name of Corona.

Villarama is the third justice assigned so far to handle Corona’s petition. The case was first assigned to Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr., who immediately inhibited from the case since his son Lord Allan was among the lawmakers who had signed the impeachment complaint against Corona.

Villarama was tasked to make a recommendation on the preliminary reliefs sought in the petition of Corona, including the issuance of a temporary restraining order on the trial for alleged violation of his right to due process.

Villarama will also receive the supplemental petition of Corona accusing five senator-judges of partiality and violating his right to due process by allegedly helping prosecutors in squeezing out documents and eliciting testimonies.

Corona has accused Senators Franklin Drilon, Serge Osmeña, Francis Pangilinan, Alan Peter Cayetano and Teofisto Guingona III of allowing the prosecution to use the impeachment proceedings as “a fishing expedition” for evidence and to damage his character, integrity and reputation.

Corona has inhibited himself from deliberations on his petition, just like in six earlier similar petitions of tax informer Danilo Lihaylihay, lawyer Vladimir Cabigao, former Integrated Bar of the Philippines president Vicente Millora, lawyer Oliver Lozano, former assemblyman Homobono Adaza and lawyer Allan Paguia, and journalists Herman Laurel and Rodolfo Salandanan and businessman Rufino Martinez.

Malacañang will not take it against the three SC appointees of Aquino if they go against his wishes.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said one of Aquino’s appointees voted for the issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the opening of Corona’s dollar accounts.

“So that should dispel any perception that the appointees of the President are beholden to him,” she said.

Valte said Aquino appointees in the SC are fair and independent.

“If you look at their voting record, yes,” she said.

The Aquino appointees are Justices Ma. Lourdes Sereno, Bienvenido Reyes and Bernabe. (From