Corona a ‘lameduck’ Chief Justice – Palace

MANILA — As far as Malacañang is concerned, Renato Corona is a lameduck Chief Justice.

Spokesman Edwin Lacierda on Tuesday confirmed that President Benigno Aquino 3rd has instructed his legal team to shop for the replacement of Corona “in any eventuality.”

Lacierda clarified that Corona will only be replaced if he will voluntarily resign on or before the impeachment trial at the Senate which will commence January 16.

He added that the next Chief Justice President Aquino wants should be like Associate Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno who issued a dissenting opinion on the court’s decision stopping the watchlist order against former President and now Rep. Gloria Arroyo of Pampanga.

Sereno is the first appointee of Aquino to the High Tribunal.

“We need judicial reform. We need an independent Supreme Court, that’s what we’ve been fighting for. We do not want a compliant SC. We want an SC that truly heeds the mandate of the people. Of the three branches, the SC is the unelected portion and we believe that they should also remember their pledge of loyalty to the Filipino people,” he said.

In defending the President, Lacierda added that since Aquino is not a lawyer, he has to rely on his legal team to search for people like Sereno.

“Just to let you know, Marilou Sereno was not known to the President. He will look into their qualifications and see if there are some who are worthy to be members of the Supreme Court,” he said.

Lacierda said that the legal team is expected to come out with a list of candidates.

“So let’s wait for that list to be proposed by the legal advisers of the President. We still don’t know what he intends to do with it,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Senate Secretary General on Tuesday transmitted the reply of Corona to the House of Representatives for the latter to respond to it.

Lawyer Valentina Cruz, spokesperson for the Impeachment Court in the Senate, said that the House is expected to submit a response to Corona’s reply by January 2.

Under the Rules of Procedure on Impeachment Trials adopted by the Senate sitting as the Impeachment court, the House is given five non-extendible days to file its reply on the chief magistrate’s response.

Since the deadline for the submission of the House’s reply falls on January 1, 2012, a holiday and a Sunday, they can file it on the following working day or on January 2.

Cruz also said that 32 copies of Corona’s reply will go to all 32 offices of the Senate including that of the 23 senators.

She said that after the House submits its reply, the proceedings of the Impeachment Court will continue on January 16, also the resumption of the session.

The Chief Justice has assembled a powerhouse legal team made up of Serafin Cuevas, German Lichauco 2nd, Jose Roy 3rd, Ernesto Francisco Jr., Dennis Manalo and Jacinto Jimenez. Cuevas is also a lawyer of the influential Iglesia ni Kristo.

The Chief Justice also said that the Chief Executive cannot hide his desire to have “a friendly, even compliant, Supreme Court as an ally.”

“Any president, Mr. Aquino included, hopes for a Supreme Court that consistently rules in his favor. Ensuring political advantage would amply justify the allegation that President Aquino seeks to subjugate the Supreme Court,” he added.

Corona’s counsels maintained that “many circumstances and events dating back to the election of President Aquino support the conclusion that it was he who desired to appoint the Chief Justice and who instigated and ordered the filing of impeachment charges to remove Chief Justice Corona.”

Corona sought the outright dismissal of the complaint against him, maintaining that it is “insufficient in substance and form

Corona said that he draws strength from God, his wife and children, and persons believing in him in his fight for justice and to prove his innocence.

In a recent interview with The Manila Times, Corona said that he did not expect the outpouring of support from judges, justices, lawyers and court employees.

The chief magistrate said that all that he wants is for the Constitution to prevail. Being the Chief Justice, he said that will be the first defender of freedom and justice in accordance with the Constitution.

“Prayers and faith are all I am clinging to. I am losing all hopes for reason and the Constitution to prevail,” Corona added.

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