Ousted Philippine top judge to leave post quietly
MANILA THE OUSTED Philippine chief justice indicated on Sunday that he won’t challenge his removal after being convicted in a politicallycharged impeachment trial of failing to declare $2.4 million in his bank account.
Renato Corona’s dismissal by a high tribunal last week marked the first time in Philippine history a chief magistrate had been impeached.
Corona said in a statement on Sunday that he was leaving the high tribunal, without mentioning any plans to challenge his removal by the 23-member Senate, which acted as an impeachment court.
Corona, however, said he would continue to fight for judicial independence outside of government.
Corona’s lawyers have said he could challenge the verdict before the Supreme Court, an option some fear would bring the legislature and the judiciary on a collision course and possibly spark a constitutional crisis.
Corona, however, said the time has come for him “to render service to our people outside of the limitations of public office,” adding he did not regret “making a stand and will continue to fight for the cause of judicial independence.” Corona has accused President Benigno Aquino III of fast-tracking his ouster like a dictator. Aquino has accused Corona of blocking his administration’s effort to prosecute former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as part of a campaign promise to wage a battle against corruption.
Arroyo, who appointed Corona as chief justice shortly before she ended her term in 2010, has been detained in a military hospital after she was arrested last year for alleged vote-rigging, a charge she has denied.
Corona was removed and barred from public office after senators voted 20 to 3 on Tuesday to convict him on charges of betraying public trust and violating the constitution for not fully declaring his assets as required by law.
He argued that his omission was not an impeachable offense and that a 1974 bank privacy law protects foreign deposits from disclosure.
In a bid to prove he did not commit any wrongdoing, he signed a waiver allowing officials to check his bank accounts and urged other officials to do the same.
“This is the new standard for public trust in government service,” he said. “The Filipino people deserve nothing less.”