Philippines' top judge sacked over graft

The Philippines' top judge was sacked on Tuesday after the Senate found him guilty of hiding millions of dollars, in the biggest win of President Benigno Aquino's anti-graft campaign.

Following an impeachment trial lasting more than four months, Supreme Court chief justice Renato Corona was convicted of violating the constitution and betraying public trust by failing to disclose his wealth.

Two thirds of the 23 senators were required to convict Corona and 20 found him guilty, paving the way for him to become the first chief justice in the nation's history to be removed from office.

"In accordance with the 1987 constitution, the judgment of conviction by the Senate impeachment court results (in Corona's) removal and disqualification from public office," Aquino's spokesman, Edwin Lacierda, told AFP.

Aquino had repeatedly said removing Corona was crucial to ending a culture of corruption that pervades all levels of Philippine society and that he alleged flourished during Arroyo's near-decade in power ending in 2010.

Aquino won a landslide election and succeeded Arroyo after campaigning on a platform to eradicate the graft that he blamed for the country's widespread poverty.

He quickly went to work by sacking Arroyo appointees in government organisations, as well as a top government prosecutor seen as sympathetic to her.

But he said Corona, a Harvard-trained lawyer and longtime ally of Arroyo, was blocking his efforts to fight graft while protecting the ex-president from prosecution.

Aquino maintained Arroyo had illegally appointed Corona to the post of chief justice in the days before she handed over power, in violation of a constitutional ban on "midnight appointments" by outgoing presidents.

Corona then enraged Aquino late last year when the Supreme Court overturned a government order banning Arroyo from leaving the country.

Arroyo was arrested at a hospital shortly after government officials blocked her at Manila airport while trying to leave. She is now in detention while on trial for vote rigging.

In December, Aquino's allies in the House of Representatives impeached Corona, sending the complaint to trial in the Senate.

Corona, 63, was also officially accused of unlawfully trying to protect Arroyo from prosecution.

However no verdict was delivered Tuesday on the protection charges after Corona was found guilty of the first offence of failing to disclose his assets.

Corona admitted last week during his trial that he had not disclosed more than $4 million in bank accounts.

But he said $2.4 million in US dollar accounts were protected by a law allowing absolute secrecy for foreign currencies, and the other money in Philippine peso accounts belonged to his relatives.

Corona insisted his wealth was accumulated legitimately through his long legal career and by his family.

Aquino's critics alleged that, in his zeal to go after Corona, the president breached constitutional provisions ensuring the separation of powers between the government, the legislature and the judiciary.

But various opinion polls showed widespread support for Aquino.

The president also enjoyed the backing of the military, crucial in a country where coup attempts and dictatorship have featured in recent political history.

His office released a short but subdued statement after Tuesday's verdict welcoming the Senate's decision.

"Mr Corona is merely the public face of the things that ail our justice system," Aquino's spokeswoman, Abigail Valte, told reporters.

"Let us never forget that those who come to court, be they rich or poor, must do so in the expectation of receiving impartial justice from those who uphold both the spirit and the letter of the law."

Corona issued a statement saying he accepted the verdict.

"If this is for the public good, I hereby accept the Calvary (punishment) that we are going through, because from the start, I have always been ready to offer my own life for our people," he said.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • PSEi breaches 8,000 level, but profit-taking pared most gains

    [caption id="attachment_257092" align="alignleft" width="150"] PSEi breaches 8,000 mark (PSE photo)[/caption] Local share prices surged on a slew of positive news from abroad, sending the Philippine Stock Exchange index past the 8,000 mark for the first time in history. BDO Unibank chief market strategist Jonathan Ravelas said the market rose due to “positive foreign equity portfolio flows and Fed Chair Yellen’s comments last week reiterating thethat the FOMC will be data dependent and …

  • Abandoned, hard-up husband hits P60-M Lotto pot

    Lady luck finally smiled on a hard-up tricycle driver, who endured being abandoned by his wife and seeing his children drop out of school before hitting the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) 6/45 Lotto jackpot worth nearly P60 million. PCSO acting chairman Jose Ferdinand M. Rojas II said the 29-year old lucky bettor hit the jackpot in the March 20 draw by correctly picking the winning numbers 02-03-14-22-29-30, which corresponds to the birth anniversary dates of his family members. …

  • News In Brief

    P/$ RATE CLOSES AT P44.80/$1The peso exchange rate closed  lower  at P44.80  to the US dollar yesterday at the Philippine Dealing & Exchange Corp. (PDEx) from P44.76  last  Friday.  The weighted average rate  unchanged  to  P44.796  from  P44.796.  Total volume amounted to $340.6 million.PUMP PRICES RAISED THIS WEEKThe pump prices of gasoline products will be raised by P1.10 per liter this week and diesel by P0.60 per liter, according to the oil companies. In an advisory to the media, the oil …

  • Need for modern national sports complex underscored

    Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara yesterday pushed for the construction of a “state-of-the-art” and “highly scientific sports complex” that can be used by the country’s national athletes for high-level training and total wellness program. Angara, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Games, Amusement and Sports, said the government should at least provide decent support to its athletes by providing them with ultramodern sports venues and facilities if it wants them to improve the country’s …

  • Makati mayor slams PNP’s role in mayoralty row

    Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin S. Binay denounced what he called apparent “misuse” of the Philippine National Police (PNP) force in the implementation of “selective suspension” of government officials not allied with the ruling party. Binay said he sympathizes with PNP personnel who often got caught in the middle of political conflicts, and called for an end to dirty political tactics. [caption id="attachment_257243" align="aligncenter" width="648"] THANKSGIVING MEAL – Vice President Jejomar C. …

  • EVAP warns of unscrupulous foreign electric vehicle suppliers

    The Electric Vehicle Association of the Philippines  (EVAP) has cautioned local manufacturers and end users against unscrupulous foreign EV suppliers that are flocking into the domestic market. In a sunrise industry like the electric vehicle industry, EVAP stressed that choosing the right partner or supplier is a difficult task. “In the absence of any track record to review, an end user is at a loss as to how to choose a reliable and competent supplier,” said Atty. Bodie Pulido, EVAP …

  • Mayors laud bill increasing tax revenue allocation for LGUs

    The League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) is backing the proposed increase in the annual automatic allocations for local government units (LGUs) to boost inclusive growth with improved infrastructure, modernized agriculture and easier access to resources. Mayor Jess Burahan, secretary-general of the LMP said the empowerment of LGUs through added resources is a game changer in boosting inclusive growth. …

  • Freeze order against Jinggoy assets final; Bong guards face raps

    The Sandiganbayan Fifth Division has turned down with finality the plea of Senator Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada to lift the freeze order on his properties amounting to more than P183 million. In a resolution released yesterday, the Fifth Division denied Estrada’s motion for reconsideration that sought that the court lift its writ of preliminary attachment/garnishment that was issued on February 17 that ordered the freeze of his properties. “As movant has not filed a counterbond and his arguments …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options