We are facing the second impeachment trial in our history, this time of the highest leadership of the Judiciary, a branch of government not usually thrown political intrigue. Impeachment, which forms part of our constitutional system of checks and balances, originated in England and was later adopted by American colonial governments. We subsequently adopted this concept, among numerous others, in our own Constitution. Academic studies show that, historically speaking, impeachment has been used as a powerful instrument of divided politics. An impeachment puts into question the legality of a leader and, therefore, results in political instability, especially in presidential impeachment cases. But through the same processes of impeachment, a leader is also given the opportunity to defend himself. If justified, he can regain the political ascendancy necessary to fulfill his responsibilities. Now, this justification rests on the Senate which acts as the jury and judge. In other words, an impeachment trial should not necessarily be seen as mechanism that undermines the Executive or the Judiciary, rather a process which ensures leaders govern without doubts over their legitimacy. It is, admittedly, an extreme recourse but one that incontrovertibly promotes the essence of a democratic system — the consent of the governed. There had been three impeachment cases in Philippine history: Former President Joseph Estrada, Former Ombudsman Merciditas Gutierrez, and now Chief Justice Renato Corona. II-Body
The impeachment Trial
The historic impeachment trial of embattled Chief Justice Renato C. Corona formally started last January 16, 2012 after Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, presiding officer of the Senate, sitting as an impeachment court, denied for lack of merit Corona’s motion for a preliminary hearing designed to have the complaint dismissed. Enrile handed down the ruling after the legal counsel of Corona led by former Supreme Court Associate Justice Serafin Cuevas and Ilolio Rep. Niel Tupas, lead prosecutor of the House of Representatives, debated on the Chief Justice’s motion.
The prosecutors filed cases against CJ corona for Non-declaration of statement of assets, liabilities, and net worth; and Inculpable violation of public trust. Evidence vs Corona
With the denial of Corona’s motion for a preliminary hearing to determine the legality of the impeachment complaint, the prosecution team formally laid down the list of evidence against the Chief Justice. One of the serious misdeeds of Corona, Tupas cited, was his loyalty and close association to former President and now Pampanga Rep. Congresswoman Gloria Macapagal Arroyo from the time she became Vice President in 1998 until she became President in 2001. He said such loyalty has numerous rewards for Corona, including the payment of his wife’s back surgery, the plum positions in the John Hay Management Corporation, among others. Corona, he said, was later appointed Supreme Court Associate Justice and later Chief Justice, a position which Tupas described as the best reward. Tupas said Corona’s appointment as Chief Justice also served an immoral purpose – that of shielding Mrs. Arroyo from prosecution for her misdeeds during her presidency. In Article 1 of the impeachment, the prosecution will show how Corona became the crowning glory of the cast of accomplices of former President Arroyo and how he protected GMA’s interest in exchange for his position of prestige and power. In Article 2 the will prove that Corona amassed ill-gotten wealth after he was appointed to the Supreme Court in 2002. In Articles 3 and 5, the prosecution will show the lack of moral fitness of Corona when he committed acts of impropriety involving parties with pending cases in the SC. In Article 4 we will show how the Chief Justice intervened in the impeachment case against former Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez also to protect Mrs. Arroyo. In Article 6 Corona’s mockery of the...