The historical Impeachment of Renato Corona in Philippines is one of the most significant events that took place in late May 2012 in the political world. Renato C. Corona was the 23rd Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines, and was impeached on December 12, 2011. The chief justice of the Philippine Supreme Court, Renato C. Corona, was removed from office on Tuesday the 29th of May 2012 and it was described in Philippines as a landmark conviction that could strengthen the President of Philippines Benigno Simeon Cojuangco Aquino III’s hand in cracking down on the endemic corruption that has long been a drag on the economy.
Corona was impeached in December 2011 by the House of Representatives. The Senate of the Philippines government then acted as an impeachment court. Its hearings, which were televised live, had moments of high drama, including weeping and a walkout by the chief justice during testimony.
In the case the Senate of the Philippines government, convened as an impeachment court, began the trial on January 16, 2012.
This was the second impeachment trial in the history of the Philippines, as Gutierrez had resigned prior to the start of her trial. On May 29, 2012, Corona was found guilty of Article II of the Articles of Impeachment filed against him pertaining to his failure to disclose to the public his statement of assets, liabilities, and net worth.
Corona lost his job after it was disclosed in his impeachment trial that he had failed to declare US $ 2.4 million in foreign currency deposits. The move came at a time when the economy of the Philippines is improving and the nation is attracting more foreign investment under the rule and guidance of current president Aquino III.
This was termed to be the first time that a high-level Philippine official had been removed from office after impeachment and conviction whilst in general officials in Philippines are often removed through street protests.
The Midnight Appointment
In 2010 Chief Justice Reynato Puno in Philippines was to retire on May 17, 2010, seven days after the presidential election. However, the constitution prohibits then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo from appointing anyone two months before the presidential election up to the end of her term. This caused a suit to be brought to the Supreme Court, in which the high tribunal ruled on March 17, 2010, that the ban on appointments does not cover the judiciary. The court ruled on the case with finality on April 20, 2010, with nine justices concurring, one dissenting and two dismissing the petition for being premature. Chief Justice Puno and Associate Justices Corona and Antonio Carpio abstained from ruling on the case. The court then ordered the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) of Philippines to proceed with its nomination process and subsequently submit its shortlist of nominees for the Chief Justice to Arroyo.
Accordingly Corona was appointed Chief Justice on May 12, 2010. He was the "most senior" Supreme Court justice among the four nominees of the JBC.
But later with Benigno Aquino III winning then election, he invited all heads of the three branches of government to his inauguration, although instead of the tradition of him being inaugurated by the Chief Justice, he instead chose to be sworn in by Associate Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales through formally requesting Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines Conchita Carpio-Morales, who opposed the midnight appointment of Corona.
Traditionally, it is the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines who administers the oath of office to the incoming President and Vice President, however, Aquino refused to allow Chief Justice Renato Corona to swear him into office, due to Aquino's opposition to the midnight appointment of Corona by outgoing President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on May 12, 2010, two days after the 2010 elections and a month before Arroyo's term expired.
Corona was Mrs. Arroyo’s chief of staff before she appointed him to the Supreme Court in 2002. She named him chief justice just days after present president Aquino won the presidency. President Aquino and his supporters argue the move was meant to squelch efforts to build corruption cases against Mrs. Arroyo and those in her administration.
Beginning of the Impeachment
On December 6, 2011, at the National Criminal Justice Summit at the Manila Hotel, President Aquino of Philippines said in a speech that Corona, who was seated meters away from him, is beholden to former President Arroyo. Aquino questioned the court's granting of a temporary restraining order lifting the watch list order of the Department of Justice against Arroyo, Arroyo's midnight appointment of Corona, and the ruling of Camarines Sur's two new legislative districts as constitutional despite falling short of the required population set by the constitution.
On 12th December 2011 a meeting between the ruling president Aquino’s allies in the in the House of Representative was called. At the conclusion of majority bloc's meeting, Committee on Justice chairman Niel Tupas, Jr. presented the impeachment complaint; after the presentation, only two representatives asked for more questions, while an overwhelming majority asked to sign the complaint. He said that there were no instructions from the Palace to impeach Corona, nor was the pork barrel of representatives who did not sign would be held back, but he said that he informed the president of their decision to impeach Corona, and that the president supported it. The House of Representatives then voted in session to endorse the complaint, getting 188 votes, well above the one-third (95) of the members required by the constitution.
Articles of Impeachment
The Articles of the Impeachment had 8 charges against Renato Corona as listed below.
1) Partiality and subservience in cases involving the Arroyo administration from the time he was appointed as associate justice to the time of his 'midnight appointment' as chief justice
- Betrayal of public trust –
2) Failed to disclose to the public his statement of assets, liabilities, and net worth as required under the constitution.
- Betrayal of public trust and/or culpable violation of the constitution –
3) Failing to meet and observe the stringent standards under the constitution that provides that "[a] member of the judiciary must be a person of proven competence, integrity, probity, and independence" in allowing the Supreme Court to act on mere letters filed by a counsel which caused the issuance of flip-flopping decisions in final and executory cases; in creating an excessive entanglement with Mrs. Arroyo through her appointment of his wife to office; and in discussing with litigants regarding cases pending before the supreme court.
-Betrayal of public trust and/or culpable violation of the constitution -
4) Blatantly disregarded the principle of separation of powers by issuing a status quo ante order against the House of Representatives in the case concerning the impeachment of then Ombudsman Merceditas Navarro-Gutierrez.
- Betrayal of public trust and/or culpable violation of the constitution -
5) Wanton arbitrariness and partiality in consistently disregarding the principle of res judicata in the cases involving the 16 newly-created cities, and the promotion of Dinagat Island (sic) into a province.
- Betrayal of public trust -
6) Arrogating unto himself, and to a committee he created, the authority and jurisdiction to improperly investigate a justice of the Supreme Court for the purpose of exculpating him. Such authority and jurisdiction is properly reposed by the constitution in the House of Representatives via impeachment.
- Betrayal of public trust -
7) Partiality in granting a temporary restraining order (TRO) in favor of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her husband Jose Miguel Arroyo in order to give them an opportunity to escape prosecution and to frustrate the ends of justice, and in distorting the supreme court decision on the effectivity of the TRO in view of a clear failure to comply with the conditions of the Supreme Court’s own TRO.
- Betrayal of public trust -
Failed and refused to account for the Judiciary Development Fund and Special Allowance for the Judiciary collections.
- Culpable violation of the constitution and/or graft and corruption -
The Senate received the articles of impeachment on December 13. Employees of the judiciary staged a court holiday on December 13 in support of Corona; this meant many courts were closed. Meanwhile In a speech delivered in front of Supreme Court employees, Corona branded Aquino as building a dictatorship, stated that he will not quit, and that his conviction will result in Aquino controlling all three branches of government. The Executive President Aquino replied via Executive Secretary Edwin Lacierda that it is not out to control all branches of government but wanted a independent Supreme Court, told Corona to go on a leave on absence, and that the impeachment is "not an attack on the judiciary. But it is a case of accountability against Chief Justice Corona.
The prosecution team includes the members of the House of Representatives, who are all members of the majority bloc, with several private prosecutors. Niel Tupas, Jr. is the chief of the prosecution team.
The prosecutors from the House of Representatives enlisted the help of private practitioners to assist them; this was opposed by the defense, saying that only the prosecutors from the House of Representatives are the "sole prosecutors". The Senate allowed the existence of the private prosecutors citing "matter of rule and precedence".
On December 14, 2011, the Senate convened as the impeachment court for the first. The next day, the impeachment court served summons to Corona, which was received by the Supreme Court.
Four days later, Vicente Millora, a former president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), filed a petition at the Supreme Court questioning the constitutionality of the impending trial, asking for a temporary restraining order (TRO), and to declare the articles of impeachment null and void. Millora contended that the impeachment case did not go through constitutional means as it was passed "undue haste, railroaded, fast-tracked, and signed but not sworn to by the 188 respondent lawmakers." The prosecutors responded by asking the Supreme Court to dismiss the petition. Additional petitions questioning the constitutionality of the impeachment were filed by Vladimir Cabigao, Danilo Lihaylihay, Oliver Lozano, and Allan Paguia and Homobono Adaza.
On the same day, the Supreme Court unanimously deferred its decision on whether to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) or not to stop the impeachment trial. Five petitions, headed by former Misamis Oriental Governor Homobono Adaza were consolidated by the court and required the Senate to comment on the petitions within ten days. Supreme Court spokesperson Jose Midas Marquez said that the court could issue an order at any time and or call for oral arguments. He furthers on that the matter is with the Senate and said the process is ongoing.
The Senate received Corona's answer on December 26 which asked for the Senate to dismiss the case for "failing to meet the requirements of the Constitution." Antonio Carpio, reportedly was assigned the case concerning the constitutionality of the impeachment, with Corona expected to inhibit himself from the discussion.
In a press conference, the prosecution team revealed that Corona owns a high-end penthouse condominium unit in Bellagio, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig worth 14.51 million pesos in 2009. Tupas asked if this condominium unit is included in Corona's state of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN), saying that Corona's SALN is made unavailable to the public. This came as an anonymous source disclosed that Corona owns another condominium unit in nearby Bonifacio Ridge worth between 5 to 8 million pesos, and a house and lot at Quezon City. However, later the prosecutors agreed to stop issuing statements to the media until the trial starts.
Corona asked the impeachment court for a preliminary hearing, meanwhile, the prosecution asked the Senate to subpoena documents on 45 properties allegedly belonging to Corona. Aside from the documents, the prosecution also asked for the appearances of Corona, his wife and children. It was revealed at least 40 of these properties were not declared in Chief Justice Corona’s 2002 SALN, and the 2010 SALN when he made such (a) declaration.
The Prosecution withdrew Articles 1, 4, 5, 6 and 8 on February 29, 2012. The Senate continued to deliberate on Articles 2, 3 and 7. The Senate gave its decision on May 29, 2012. Only the 2nd, 3rd and 7th articles were considered; after the required two-thirds vote to remove from office was reached on the first article being voted upon, the Senate decided not to pursue voting on the last two articles. The case was won by 20 senators voting Chief Justice Renato Corona found guilty of Article 2 of the impeachment complaint filed against him pertaining to his failure to disclose to the public is statement of assets, liabilities, and net worth. Only 3 senators voted to release Corona.
Corona faced no criminal or civil charges, though cases could still be filed against him, and he is barred from ever holding public office. Although Corona faced an impeachment charge of making decisions that were biased in favor of former Philippines President Mrs. Arroyo and her supporters, the Senate never voted on it because after a conviction was obtained on the first charge, which involved hiding assets — the $2.4 million as well as 80 million pesos, worth about $ 1.8 million, that he had in bank accounts — the trial ended.
Lawyers for the chief justice had said earlier that if he were convicted, they would appeal to the Supreme Court. But the Senate president, Juan Ponce Enrile, who acted as the presiding judge in the trial, said the ruling was “final and executory” and could not be appealed.
Sri Lanka's Chief Justice charged with 14 violations, impeachment motion placed in parliament
Tue, Nov 6, 2012, 07:33 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.
Nov 06, Colombo: The impeachment motion presented against Sri Lanka's Chief Justice Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake to Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa last week has been included in the parliament's Order Paper today.
The motion signed by 117 governing party members was handed over to the Speaker last Thursday (November 01).
The motion according to the Order Paper contains 14 charges against the Chief Justice.
The charges include improper conduct or conduct unbecoming of a person holding the office of the Chief Justice, involving in matters that could amount to causes of action or controversy, and influencing the process of delivery of justice.
Party Leaders are expected to meet today to discuss procedures regarding the setting up of a parliamentary select committee to probe the allegations contained in the impeachment motion.
Meanwhile, the Association of High Court Judges has decided yesterday at a meeting not to make any statement or take any action regarding the impeachment motion against the Chief Justice.
Following is the full text of the impeachment motion that has been tabled in parliament:
Resolution as per Article 107(2) of the Constitution for a motion of Parliament to be presented to His Excellency the President for the removal of the Hon. (Dr.) (Mrs.) Upatissa Atapattu Bandaranayake Wasala Mudiyanse Ralahamilage Shirani Anshumala Bandaranayake from the office of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka,-
1. Whereas by purchasing, in the names of two individuals, i.e. Renuka Niranjali Bandaranayake and Kapila Ranjan Karunaratne using special power of attorney licence bearing No. 823 of Public Notary K.B. Aroshi Perera that was given by Renuka Niranjali Bandaranayake and Kapila Ranjan Karunaratne residing at No. 127, Ejina Street, Mount Hawthorn, Western Australia, 6016, Australia, the house bearing No. 2C/F2/P4 and assessment No. 153/1-2/4 from the housing scheme located at No. 153, Elvitigala Mawatha, Colombo 08 belonging to the company that was known as Ceylinco Housing and Property Company and City Housing and Real Estate Company Limited and Ceylinco Condominium Limited and is currently known as Trillium Residencies which is referred in the list of property in the case of undamental rights application No. 262/2009, having removed another bench of the Supreme Court which was hearing the fundamental rights application cases bearing Nos. 262/2009, 191/2009 and 317/2009 filed respectively in the Supreme Court against Ceylinco Sri Ram Capital Management, Golden Key Credit Card Company and Finance and Guarantee Company Limited belonging to the Ceylinco Group of Companies and taking up further hearing of the aforesaid cases under her court and serving as the presiding judge of the benches hearing the said cases;
2. Whereas, in making the payment for the purchase of the above property, by paying a sum of Rs 19,362,500 in cash, the manner in which such sum of money was earned had not been disclosed, to the companies of City Housing and Real Estate Company Limited and Trillium Residencies prior to the purchase of the said property;
3. Whereas, by not declaring in the annual declaration of assets and liabilities that should be submitted by a judicial officer, the details of approximately Rs. 34 million in foreign currency deposited at the branch of NDB Bank located at Dharmalpala Mawatha, Colombo 07 in accounts 106450013024, 101000046737, 100002001360 and 100001014772 during the period from 18 April 2011 to 27 March 2012;
4. Whereas, by not declaring in the annual declaration of assets and liabilities that should be submitted by a judicial officer the details of more than twenty bank accounts maintained in various banks including nine accounts bearing numbers 106450013024, 101000046737, 100002001360, 100001014772, 100002001967, 100101001275, 100110000338, 100121001797 and 100124000238 in the aforesaid branch of NDB Bank;
5. Whereas, Mr. Pradeep Gamini Suraj Kariyawasam, the lawful husband of the said Hon. (Dr.) (Mrs.) Upatissa Atapattu Bandaranayake Wasala Mudiyanse Ralahamilage Shirani Anshumala Bandaranayake is a suspect in relation to legal action initiated at the Magistrate's Court of Colombo in connection with the offences regarding acts of bribery and/or corruption under the Commission to Investigate into Allegations of Bribery or Corruption Act, No 19 of 1994;
Whereas, the post of Chairperson of the Judicial Service Commission which is vested with powers to transfer, disciplinary control and removal of the Magistrate of the said court which is due to hear the aforesaid bribery or corruption case is held by the said Hon. (Dr.) (Mrs.) Upatissa Atapattu andaranayake Wasala Mudiyanse Ralahamilage Shirani Anshumala Bandaranayake as per Article 111D (2) of the Constitution; Whereas, the powers to examine the judicial records, registers and other documents maintained by the aforesaid court are vested with the said Hon. (Dr.) (Mrs.) Upatissa Atapattu Bandaranayake Wasala Mudiyanse Ralahamilage Shirani Anshumala Bandaranayake under Article 111H (3) by virtue of being the Chairperson of the Judicial Service Commission;
Whereas, the Hon. (Dr.) (Mrs.) Upatissa Atapattu Bandaranayake Wasala Mudiyanse Ralahamilage Shirani Anshumala Bandaranayake becomes unsuitable to continue in the office of the Chief Justice due to the legal action relevant to the allegations of bribery and corruption levelled against Mr. Pradeep Gamini Suraj Kariyawasam, the lawful husband of the said Hon. (Dr.) (Mrs.) Upatissa Atapattu Bandaranayake Wasala Mudiyanse Ralahamilage Shirani Anshumala Bandaranayake in the aforesaid manner, and as a result of her continuance in the office of the Chief Justice, administration of justice is hindered and the fundamentals of administration of justice are thereby violated and whereas not only administration of justice but visible administration of justice should take place;
6. Whereas, despite the provisions made by Article 111H of the Constitution that the Secretary of the Judicial Service Commission shall be appointed from among the senior judicial officers of the courts of first instance, the Hon. (Dr.) (Mrs.) Upatissa Atapattu Bandaranayake Wasala Mudiyanse Ralahamilage Shirani Anshumala Bandaranayake acting as the Chairperson of the Judicial Service Commission by virtue of being the Chief Justice, has violated Article 111H of the Constitution by disregarding the seniority of judicial officers in executing her duties as the Chairperson of the Judicial Service Commission through the appointment of Mr. Manjula Thilakaratne who is not a senior judicial officer of the courts of first instance,while there were such eligible officers;
7. Whereas, with respect to the Supreme Court special ruling Nos. 2/2012 and 3/2012 the said Hon. (Dr.) (Mrs.) Upatissa Atapattu Bandaranayake Wasala Mudiyanse Ralahamilage Shirani Anshumala Bndaranayake has disregarded and /or violated Article 121 (1) of the Constitution by making a special ruling of the Supreme Court to the effect that the provisions set out in the Constitution are met by the handing over of a copy of the petition filed at the court to the Secretary General of Parliament despite the fact that it has been mentioned that a copy of a petition filed under Article 121 (1) of the Constitution shall at the same time be delivered to the Speaker of Parliament;
8. Whereas, Article 121(1) of the Constitution has been violated by the said Hon. (Dr.) (Mrs.) Upatissa Atapattu Bandaranayake Wasala Mudiyanse Ralahamilage Shirani Anshumala Bandaranayake despite the fact that it had been decided that the mandatory procedure set out in the said Article of the Constitution must be followed in accordance of the interpretation given by the Supreme Court in the special decisions of the Supreme Court bearing Nos. 5/91, 6/91, 7/91 and 13/91;
9. Whereas, irrespective of the absolute ruling stated by the Supreme Court in the fundamental rights violation case, President's Counsel Edward Francis William Silva and three others versus Shirani Bandaranayake (1992 New Law Reports of Sri Lanka 92) challenging the appointment of the Hon. (Dr.) (Mrs.) Upatissa Atapattu Bandaranayake Wasala Mudiyanse Ralahamilage Shirani Anshumala Bandaranayake, when she was appointed as a Supreme Court judge, she has acted in contradiction to the said ruling subsequent to being appointed to the office of the Supreme Court judge;
10.Whereas, the Supreme Court special rulings petition No. 02/2012 filed by the institution called Centre for Policy Alternatives to which the Media Publication Section 'Groundview' that had published an article of the Hon. (Dr.) (Mrs.) Upatissa Atapattu Bandaranayake Wasala Mudiyanse Ralahamilage Shirani Anshumala Bandaranayake, while she was a lecturer of the Law Faculty of the University of Colombo prior to becoming a Supreme Court judge, has been heard and a ruling given;
11. Whereas, in the case, President's Counsel Edward Francis William Silva and three others versus Shirani Bandaranayake (1992 New Law Reports of Sri Lanka 92) that challenged the suitability of the appointment of the Hon. (Dr.) (Mrs.) Upatissa Atapattu Bandaranayake Wasala Mudiyanse Ralahamilage Shirani Anshumala Bandaranayake who holds the office of the Chief Justice and thereby holds the office of the ex-officio Chairperson of the Judicial Service Commission in terms of the Constitution, Attorney-at-Law L.C.M. Swarnadhipathi, the brother of the Magistrate Kuruppuge Beeta Anne Warnasuriya Swarnadhipathi filed a petition against the appointment of the said Hon. (Dr.) (Mrs.) Upatissa Atapattu Bandaranayake Wasala Mudiyanse Ralahamilage Shirani Anshumala Bandaranayake owing to which the Hon. (Dr.) (Mrs.) Upatissa Atapattu Bandaranayake Wasala Mudiyanse Ralahamilage Shirani Anshumala Bandaranayake has harassed the said Magistrate Kuruppuge Beeta Anne Warnasuriya Swarnadhipathi;
12. Whereas, the Hon. (Dr.) (Mrs.) Upatissa Atapattu Bandaranayake Wasala Mudiyanse Ralahamilage Shirani Anshumala Bandaranayake who holds the office of the Chief Justice and thereby holds the office of the ex-officio Chairperson of the Judicial Service Commission in terms of Article 111D (2) of the Constitution has, by acting ultra vires the powers vested in her by the Article 111H of the Constitution ordered the Magistrate (Mrs.) Rangani Gamage's right to obtain legal protection for lodging a complaint in police against the harassment meted out to her by Mr. Manjula Thilakaratne, the Secretary of the Judicial Service Commission;
13. Whereas, the said Hon. (Dr.) (Mrs.) Upatissa Atapattu Bandaranayake Wasala Mudiyanse Ralahamilage Shirani Anshumala Bandaranayake being the Chief Justice and thereby being the Chairperson of the Judicial Service Commission, in terms of Article 111D (2) of the Constitution, has abused her powers by ordering the Magistrate (Mrs.) Rangani Gamage to obtain permission of the Judicial Service Commission prior to seeking police protection thereby preventing her from exercising her legal right to obtain legal protection;
14. Whereas, the Hon. (Dr.) (Mrs.) Upatissa Atapattu Bandaranayake Wasala Mudiyanse Ralahamilage Shirani Anshumala Bandaranayake by performing her duties as the Chairperson of the Judicial Service Commission has referred a letter through the Secretary of the Judicial Service Commission to the Magistrate (Mrs.) Rangani Gamage, calling for explanation from her as to why a disciplinary inquiry should not be conducted against her for seeking protection from the Inspector General of Police by exercising her legal right;
By acting in the aforesaid manner,-
(i) whereas it amounts to improper conduct or conduct unbecoming of a person holding the office of the Chief Justice;
(ii) whereas she had been involved in matters that could amount to causes of action or controversial matters,
(iii) whereas she had influenced the process of delivery of justice,
(iv) whereas there can be reasons for litigants to raise accusations of partiality/impartiality, she has plunged the entire Supreme Court and specially the office of the Chief Justice into disrepute.
Therefore we, the aforementioned Members of Parliament resolve that a Select Committee of Parliament be appointed in terms of Article 107 (3) of the Constitution read with the provisions of Article 107 (2) and Standing Order 78 A of Parliament enabling the submission of a resolution to His Excellency the President for the removal of the Hon. (Dr.) (Mrs.) Upatissa Atapattu Bandaranayake Wasala Mudiyanse Ralahamilage Shirani Anshumala Bandaranayake from the office of the Chief Justice of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka in the event the Select Committee reports to Parliament that one or more of the charges that have been levelled have been proved after the aforesaid charges of misconduct have been investigated.