THERE is no stopping President Benigno Aquino 3rd from bashing former Chief Justice Renato Corona who, just like the chief executive, is a graduate of the Ateneo de Manila University.
During on Wednesday’s anniversary celebration of the Ateneo Professional Schools where the president was guest of honor and speaker, Aquino said that while there are Ateneans who do good, there are others who “do not use their light in righteousness.”
Aquino was graduated from Ateneo while Corona, who was impeached in 2012, went to the same university where he earned his bachelor’s degree in 1970 and his law degree in 1974.
While praising his alma mater for producing many of the country’s top leaders and professionals, Aquino said there are graduates who “took the wrong path,” in apparent reference to Corona, who is presently facing tax evasion charges before the Court of Tax Appeals.
“I believe that it is part of being an Atenean to ask ourselves at the end of the day if we did right. If I was able to help in promoting reforms that will benefit all and not a few.
If I can face anyone and tell him that everything I did was for him,” Aquino told school officials and students.
In his speech, the president said present laws are “complicated” and that one of the most glaring examples of such complications was the “midnight appointment” of Corona which the Supreme Court upheld.
“They [SC] said there was a controversy. You have to appoint [a chief justice]within 90 days. Then Chief Justice Puno has just retired and Chief Justice Corona came in one week after the [May 2010] elections. The President can no longer appoint, except in Executive positions until the end of the term. The incoming President will have half of that mandated in the Constitution to fill up the vacancy,” Aquino pointed out.
According to him, the job of appointing a chief justice should have been his because there was an existing election ban besides the fact that the law prohibits the president from filling up vacant positions during the election period.
“Now I ask: Was there really a controversy? Upon the assumption into office of the next president in 2010, there were 45 days remaining or half of the required period by the Constitution to appoint the next chief Justice,” Aquino further stressed.
He even cited Article 7, Section 15 on the Chef Executive that states the president cannot appoint in any position two months prior to the presidential elections while in Article 8 Section 4, which talks of the Judiciary, it is provided that there is a need to appoint a new Chief Justice 90 days after the retirement of the first.
Aquino likewise hit the flip-flopping positions taken by the Court during Corona’s term on the issue.
“It is hard to serve as guide if the direction is frequently changed, right?” the president asked.
Prior to Aquino’s latest “attack,” Corona’s camp slammed the government for filing a tax case against him, which stemmed from Corona’s alleged misdeclarations in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Networth (SALN). It was the same ground used to justify his impeachment.
Corona, who was ousted as chief justice in 2012, considers the tax case part of the Aquino administration’s political persecution and that he expects no justice from the government. He said there could never be any ounce of fairness under the Aquino government who has ordered his people, particularly Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and BIR Commissioner Kim Jacinto-Henares, to persecute him.
“Wala akong magagawa kundi labanan ito. Alam ko naman noong umpisa na lahat ng panggigipit ay gagawin sa akin,” he had said.
The former chief magistrate has always maintained that Aquino wanted him impeached because the Supreme Court under his watch ruled in favor of the distribution of land to tenant-farmers in Hacienda Luisita, which is owned by the family of President Aquino.