Bohol lawyers call on Corona to resign

Bohol lawyers call on Corona to resign

“A pack of damaged goods”, the chief justice must resign now as his continued stint would only cast doubt on any decision that the Supreme Court would issue in the future.
The Bohol Bar Association, as prospective private party oppositors to the review on the validity of the impeachment trial against the chief justice, expressed this call in a 12-page opposition to the judicial review on the House-initiated impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Renato Corona.
The group led by former Constitutional Convention delegate and bar topnotcher, Victor de la Serna is the first lawyers’ group in the country which is supporting the move for the resignation of CJ Corona. De la Serna who is the lead lawyer of the group said that it’s about time that a lawyers’ group become objective and decisive to call for the ouster of Corona as chief justice of the Supreme Court.
The other signatories of the call for Corona’s resignation are lawyers Alexander Lim, Zotico Ochavillo, Antonio Amora, Jr., Dennis Hora and Evaneliza Cloma . They pointed out that Corona’s resignation will also “save the people the agony and expense of an impeachment trial”.
They filed the private party opposition to the petition of one Vicente Millora of Quezon City in a special civil action for a review and prohibition with appeal for a temporary restraining order on the impeachment trial and other similar petitions filed before the Supreme Court.
Furnished copies of the opposition dated January 7, 2012 were Millora, Rep. Neil Tupas, and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile.
No more credibility is left on Corona’s vote in any decision and even if he will be acquitted by the Senate, his continued stint as chief justice of the Supreme Court then will “continue to cause damage to the Supreme Court”, according to the Bohol Bar Association.

If  he votes in favor of any act of the present administration, the public might interpret that “he has been cowed to submission”. When he votes against any act of the present administration, the public might interpreted it as an act of “vengeance”.
Corona’s presence will only cast “a dark shadow of doubt over the independence and impartiality of the entire Supreme Court”, considering that his impeachment initiated by the House already made him a pack of “damaged goods”.
“The people of this country will not welcome the presence of ‘damaged goods’ in our Supreme Court. The people will not welcome a dark cloud of doubt hanging over the independence and impartiality of the Supreme Court,” according to the Bohol Bar Association.
The seven lawyers also pointed out that the Supreme Court “cannot” and “should not” declare null and void the impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Renato Corona prepared by the House of Representatives and signed by 188 congressmen—under its power of judicial review.
They cited Article XI, section 3 which states that “the House of Representatives shall have the exclusive power to initiate all cases of impeachment”, and explained that impeachment is not just a core function of the House but it is also “allocated specifically and expressly by the Constitution to the House”.
The seven lawyers clarified that the Supreme Court’s review on the decision of the House to impeach Corona violates the Constitution, because it already subjects the “function to impeach” to usurpation by the Supreme Court and such function no longer becomes exclusive to the House.
“If the Supreme Court in the guise of judicial review will nullify the impeachment complaint prepared by the House, the Supreme Court can effectively shield and insulate itself from accountability as public officers. This is in direct contravention to Article XI of the Constitution which is entitled, “Accountability of Public Officers,” the seven lawyers added.
The Boholano lawyers pointed out that “impeachment” is the only way allowed by the Constitution to remove Corona and other impeachable officers from office “to exact public accountability from them”.
“If the Supreme Court will insulate itself from accountability by its awesome power of judicial review, the Supreme Court will no longer be interpreters of the Constitution. The Supreme Court will become makers of the Constitution, and they can mold the Constitution any way they want, at their pleasure, under the guise of judicial review. This is contrary to letter and intent of the Constitution—which is the source of its existence and sets the limits of its authority,” according to the Bohol Bar Association.
The Boholano lawyers further said that the Supreme Court has no capacity to nullify the impeachment complaint based on “alleged failure” of the 188 signatories-congressmen to read the impeachment complaint.
The allegation that the signatories of the impeachment complaint failed to read the document is “anecdotal”, thus, applicable only to some or few of them and cannot be true to all the 188 congressmen.
The Bohol Bar Association explained that the required 95 signatories must have been among the majority who had read the impeachment complaint.
“The congressmen are (presumably?) highly educated and honorable people. They don’t have to read each and every word of the impeachment complaint to fully comprehend its full meaning and contents—before they swear to it. The presumption of regularity in the performance of their (constitutional) duties applies in their favor,” the Bohol Bar Association explained.
Moreover, the fact that they affixed their signatures, the congressmen must have fully understood the contents of the impeachment complaint and “have solemnly sworn to all its contents” on behalf of the approximately 250,000 constituents.
“Besides, the actuations of Corona are matters of public knowledge, specially to the members of the House. The signatories of the impeachment complaint are surely more than knowledgeable of these actuations,” the seven Boholano lawyers added.
They also find it “absurd and ridiculous” for the Supreme Court to lay the specific procedure to be followed by the House before it can initiate a valid impeachment complaint.
“Will the Supreme Court now send a sheriff who will then force all 188 signatories-congressmen to sit down in one hall and supervise that the congressmen read the impeachment complaint? This would be laughable. Or worse, will the Supreme Court now send its sheriff to require all 188 signatories-congressmen to go on a two-day retreat to meditate and introspect of whether he should sign the impeachment complaint before the Supreme Court will say that the impeachment complaint is valid? This would be ridiculous,” the Bohol Bar Association pointed out.
The seven lawyers also clarified that Corona’s impeachment “is not an attack against the Supreme Court and an attempt to strip the Supreme Court of its status as a co-equal and co-independent branch of government”, contrary to the allegation Millora’s allegation.
“It is all about public accountability as mandated by the Constitution. And the power to enforce public accountability from Supreme Court justices has been expressly granted by the Constitution to the House of Representatives—which has the exclusive power to initiate all cases of impeachment,” the Bohol Bar Association clarified.
Purely a pursuit of public accountability, Corona’s impeachment is just the House of Representatives’ means to cleanse the Supreme Court of the unwanted presence of the chief justice.
“Corona’s impeachment will not destroy the independence of the Supreme Court because Corona is not the Supreme Court,” the seven lawyers pointed out.
Moreover, the “equal protection clause” does not apply in the issue and that the House of Representatives has the “exclusive power” to impeach or not to impeach and who to impeach or who not to impeach.
“The Supreme Court cannot substitute its opinion over that of the House of Representatives…. The power to impeach is the ‘exclusive power’ of the House—and no one, not even the Supreme Court can usurp this power,” the Bohol Bar Association pointed out.
In the first place, Corona’s appointment by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo a few days before the expiration of her term on June 30 last year violated Article VII, Section 15 which prohibits appointments within the period two months before the next presidential elections and up to the end of the President’s term, “except temporary appointments to executive positions when continued vacancies therein will prejudice public service or endanger public safety”, according to the Boholano lawyers..
The seven lawyers said the Supreme Court actually “engaged in ‘judicial legislation’ in the guise of judicial review” in exempting Corona’s appointment from this provision.
It was actually “judicial constitution making” when the Supreme Court added the phrase “except members of the Supreme Court” to Article VII Section 5, according to the lawyers.
“This is even judicial constitution making. Therefore, Corona’s appointment as chief justice is null and void ab initio. As a lawyer, Corona knew, or ought to have known this from the very start. We, therefore, concur with the public statement of Justice Secretary de Lima that Corona is a ‘walking constitutional violation’,” the Bohol Bar Association added.
As background of the main issue, the seven lawyers clarified the Supreme Court’s limitation in nullifying the President’s decisions, saying it can only be possible for those involving the President’s non-core functions but not on core functions.
While the Supreme Court, under its power of judicial review, cannot nullify core functions such as choosing members of his cabinet, the Supreme Court can nullify DOJ Circular 41 on the Watch List Order, “because it affects private rights and this is not a core function”, according to the lawyers.
However, they clarified that such decision “must be balanced by the Supreme Court with the ability of the government to protect itself and enforce our laws, which function is allocated by the Constitution to the President”, according to the Bohol Bar Association.

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