The Palace-Faura War.

Compiling all my blog posts on the historic 2012 impeachment of the Philippine Chief Justice.

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  1. In November, I criticized Justice Secretary Leila de Lima defied a Supreme Court order allowing Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to flee the country. At the same time, I pointed out that impeachment is the only institutional way of holding SC justices accountable.
  2. In December, I called the House of Representatives' move to swiftly impeach Chief Justice Renato Corona as a blitzkrieg attack. I said it may be better for Corona to just resign.
  3. Instead of resigning, Corona made a counter-offensive:  “It is now apparent that the Chief Justice is willing to compromise the Judiciary’s ability to maintain the fiction of its cold neutrality, from which its moral authority as the prime arbiter of law emanates, in order to protect his position. For the President and his allies, this means that they should now prepare for a protracted total war, one that would be fought in three different fronts.”
  4. In February, reacting to Corona's petition for certiorari to nullify the impeachment proceedings, I said: "In his desperate ploy to prevent his inevitable ouster, Corona is pitting the Supreme Court against the Senate and pushing the country to the brink of a constitutional crisis. What’s more, it seems that he has even allowed himself to be used by another political actor, the politically-influential religious sect Iglesia ni Cristo.” But I maintained that the Supreme Court will lose a constitutional crisis.
  5. The Defense panel, led by Atty. Jud Roy, then accused Malacanang of trying to bribe the senator-judges. For me, it was a gambit that forced the Senate to respect the Supreme Court's TRO on its inquiry of Corona's dollar accounts.
  6. The TRO prompted a debate among Manila's commentariat on the extent of Judicial Review vis a vis the 1987 Constitution's framers' desire to liberalize the country's impeachment process. "The clash between the values of upholding the predominantly political nature of impeachments versus that of upholding the duty of the Judiciary to exercise judicial review has become more pronounced. This is a clash that the framers of the 1987 Constitution apparently failed to anticipate, and this is a clash that the Philippines must confront as part of its long-term transition into a modern, viable democracy.”
  7. On Valentine's Day, the Supreme Court, invoking Judicial Privilege, imposed a gag order on all its officials and employees. 
  8. On February 28, the unimpressive Prosecution dropped five of the eight impeachment articles. I thought it signified that the tide was turning against President Aquino.
  9. During the impeachment recess, and amid the Chief Justice's media blitz, I was invited to a blogger's meeting with Chief Justice Corona, where I pressed him on his unethical midnight appointment.
  10. After being scolded by the Senate for presenting irrelevant witnesses, the Defense panel announced that the Chief Justice would testify if the Ombudsman, who had been reported to have asked the Chief Justice to explain his bloated dollar accounts, would be summoned first. I thought it was a gamble designed to turn the tables on Corona's accusers, win public opinion and, subsequently, the senator-judges. I said: "The wild card here would be the testimony of Ombudsman Carpio-Morales.  This is where the success of the Defense’s strategy would depend. Chief Justice Corona would almost certainly calibrate his explanations based on the extent of the Ombusman’s revelations. If the Ombudsman has more damning information to share, the Chief Justice would surely have more problems than he can handle.”
  11. The Ombudsman's testimony proved to be too damning for Corona. I said it's game over for him. Also, I noted the awesome powers of the Ombudsman that would leave crooks in government very scared indeed. 
  12. Following Corona's repugnant behavior in the witness stand, his walk-out, and his pathetic attempt at damage control, I blogged: “Renato Corona eschewed delicadeza by accepting a midnight appointment; believes that the absolute secrecy of dollar deposits is more important than transparency and accountability; fudged his explanations regarding his unexplained wealth through logical fallacies; slandered many people; and acted in contempt of the Senate Impeachment Court. He even appears to be not above dragging the whole institution he leads, and even the country itself, into a constitutional crisis just to keep his position. Clearly, this man does not deserve to remain chief magistrate of the Republic.”
  13. "The Senate would now have to decide whether the impeached Chief Justice culpably violated the Constitution by failing to declare his multi-million assets in his SALN. To do so, the Senate would have to determine whether the Chief Justice’s counter-intuitive interpretation of the supposed conflict between the FCDA and the constitutional provision on the SALN is correct or not.


    "This is tricky, because the supposed conflict between the two laws is a strictly legal issue that only the Supreme Court has the competence and the power to resolve. As columnist Frederico Pascual tweeted, the Senate’s mandate is to merely decide the impeachment case against the Chief Justice, not to interpret the laws.


    "This is of great interest for students of politics and Law for it shows how the sui generis impeachment process traverses a very thin line between the political and legal realms. So how should the Senate navigate this line?"

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