BY LESLIE ANN G. AQUINO and ROLLY T. CARANDANG
MANILA, Philippines — A network of priests, seminarians, and lay individuals, and a group of Catholic educators trooped to the Supreme Court Friday to deliver a letter urging Chief Justice Renato Corona to “make good on his word” by voluntarily opening to the public the contents of his foreign currency deposit accounts.
“We respectfully call on you to voluntarily open and make public the contents of your foreign currency deposit accounts. You have made numerous pronouncements that you will open them in ‘due time.’ At this time when the people’s search for truth has zeroed in on your SALNs and bank records, there is no more appropriate time to open your dollar accounts than now,” read the groups letter to Corona.
Validation Of Distrust
As this developed, prosecutors from the House of Representatives said the results of the latest Pulse Asia survey showing that majority of Filipinos distrust the Chief Justice only validates that he had lost moral ascendancy to lead the Supreme Court and therefore should be removed from office.
“Once again the public has spoken that Chief Justice Corona does not deserve to remain as head of the Supreme Court,” House Deputy Speaker and prosecution panel spokesman Erin Tañada said in a statement. “He has lost the moral ascendancy to lead an institution that should be beyond reproach.”
Another spokesman Aurora Rep. Sonny Angara said the survey result did not come as a surprise for the prosecution since Corona already earned the reputation as the most unpopular chief justice since the 1986 revolution that toppled the Marcos dictatorship. He said matters became worse for Corona after the prosecution had presented overwhelming evidence to pin him down on charges of culpable violation of the Constitution, graft and corruption, and betrayal of public trust.
“With his betrayal of public trust, it is not surprising to see the results of the survey,” Angara said. “In fact, it is not only betrayal of public trust, but also withdrawal of public trust.”
The Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan (SLB) – a church-based Jesuit-led organization and the Catholic Educators Association of the Philippines (CEAP), the biggest organized group of Catholic schools in the country – also called on Corona to take a voluntary leave of absence until such a time that the trial is completed and a decision is rendered by the impeachment court.
“We believe your continued presence in, and influence upon the Supreme Court which makes various decisions in relation to your own trial, will result in a process that cannot be deemed fair nor credible, “ read the letter.
The groups also called on Corona to testify before the impeachment court, citing the several occasions wherein he made public his desire to face the impeachment court.