I haven’t written much about the impeachment of Chief Justice Corona in the Philippines partly because events are moving so quickly that it’s hard to post anything without it becoming obsolete the next day. Nonetheless, the main development now seems to be that prosecutors have found inconsistencies on Corona’s Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN) (for an overview of the charges, see here and here). This alone is an impeachable offense. Other allegations of corruption have arisen, including misappropriation of World Bank project funds (see the World Bank memo asking for the return of 8.6 million pesos here).
While I’ve been following the news pretty closely, I certainly don’t recall any discussion of corruption as the basis for impeachment before the House voted last December. While these allegations of corruption certainly paint a disturbing picture of Corona’s chief justiceship, I’m surprised that the trial has moved in this direction rather than focusing on the stated basis for impeachment, namely Corona’s decisions. I hope the focus on real crimes means that the Philippines can minimize the damage the impeachment trial will have on judicial independence. If future judges see this impeachment as the legitimate removal of a corrupt official rathe than a politically motivated attack then all the better. However, while judges don’t often state their positions publicly, what I’ve seen in news reports is that judges are sticking by their chief justice – at least for now.