Aquino’s legacy on the rule of law is still being determined. On the one hand, judges complain that the impeachment of Chief Justice Corona is becoming essentially trial by publicity. On the other hand, some human rights activists credit the president for going after former general Jovito Palparan, one of the masterminds behind extrajudicial killings against suspected leftists (although Palparan remains at large). Ironically, under the Puno Supreme Court had pushed for bringing human rights violators to justice while the Arroyo administration stalled.
Category Archives: Aquino
While there has been much talk about a final showdown between the Aquino administration and the Corona Court, I was shocked to hear from BBC yesterday that the Congress actually impeached Chief Justice Corona. Just a few hours before I had read an article in which Corona talked of a secret conspiracy to oust him. Normally I’d have dismissed such talk, but at this point I’ve really got to wonder what the Aquino administration is thinking. The Philippines Supreme Court has been relatively independent since the EDSA. It has waded into a variety of politically charged questions, including term limits for President Ramos, the legality of EDSA II, and extrajudicial killings. The impeachment against Corona is the first time a Philippine justice has been impeached on blatantly political grounds. Even the impeachment against Davide nominally focused on the Court’s alleged misappropriation of funds. Sadly, even if the Senate refuses to convict Corona the whole imbroglio might make Philippine justices think twice about taking on political cases.
On Monday, President Aquino attended a justice cooperation summit with many of the serving Supreme Court justices. Usually, these are rather formal and stiff affairs. However, Aquino gave a speech lambasting Chief Justice Corona for ruling against the administration and being beholden to Arroyo.
Of course Aquino had criticized the justice before, but this particular speech was shocking for its directness and confrontation with the justices in the same room. Several constitutional law experts have attacked Aquino for his “tirade,” one going so far as to compare him to Fidel Castro.
For his part, Corona confirmed that he is not resigning. He has rarely participated in the “debate” directly, but rather spoken through Supreme Court Spokesman Midas Marquez. On Tuesday, Marquez stated that, “It is just unfortunate that the Chief Justice was appointed by someone that many do not like. Now they are attacking him. It’s not his fault.”
It’ll be interesting to see what polls say about Aquino’s attacks on the judiciary. I haven’t been in the country in a while so I unfortunately don’t have a sense on the ground.
Despite the Supreme Court’s TRO yesterday regarding the WLO against former President Arroyo, the administration physically prevented them from catching their flight out of Manila yesterday. In a dramatic scene, the former president was wheeled away from their flight into a room with their lawyers. There are already calls to impeach Aquino over this and other recent decisions. All that’s certain for now is that the Aquino administration has set itself up for an even more intense showdown with the Supreme Court.
I don’t often write about “metabolic bone biopsies” on my blog. However, that’s the procedure former Philippine president Arroyo needs, and that’s what the Aquino administration Justice Department is seeking to deny her. Or so Arroyo claims. Secretary of Justice Leila de Lima issued a watchlist order against Arroyo to prevent her and her husband from fleeing the country while facing plunder and poll fraud charges. According to PhilStar, Arroyo has challenged the WLO as impairing her constitutional right to travel (Article III, § 1 and 6) and filed suit before the Supreme Court. It will be particularly interesting to see how the Supreme Court rules, given the hostility between it and the Aquino administration. Moreover, 12 of the 15 justices are Arroyo appointees, which as I wrote last year became controversial as Arroyo managed to appoint the chief justice. I guess we’ll see whether the Philippine Supreme Court provides that political insurance Arroyo had been banking on.