January 1, 2012.
By Constitutional mandate the Senate is the judge in an impeachment case. Let me propose some questions arising from a summary of the charges filed by the House of Representatives. I believe the Senate will ponder these after it has determined that the complaint was properly verified.
I. Respondent betrayed the public trust through his track record marked by partiality and subservience in cases involving the Arroyo administration from the time of his appointment as Supreme Court justice, which continued to his dubious appointment as a Midnight Chief Justice and up to the present.
a. I too opposed the exercise of the appointing power during the two-month prohibited period. But the Supreme Court decided otherwise. May the Senate review the Court’s decision?
b. Is it illegitimate to assume that the votes of Corona represented independent judgment?
II. Respondent committed culpable violation of the Constitution and/or betrayed the public trust when he failed to disclose to the public his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth as required Under Sec. 17, Article XI of the 1987 Constitution.
a. The command on making assets and liabilities public is qualified by the clause “in the manner provided by law.” Is there a law providing the manner and did Corona violate it?
b. Alternatively, if there is no law applicable specifically to the Judiciary, may Corona follow instead the manner prescribed in Resolutions of the Supreme Court before him? (Which I am told he does regularly.)
c. What evidence will be presented on the alleged illegally acquired property?
III. Respondent committed culpable violations of the Constitution and betrayed the public trust by failing to meet and observe the stringent standards under Article VIII, Sec. 7 (3) of the Constitution, which provides that [a] member of the Judiciary must be a person of proven competence, integrity, probity, and independence in allowing the Supreme Court to act on mere letters filed by a counsel which caused the issuance of flip-flopping decisions in final and executory cases; in creating an excessive entanglement with Mrs. Arroyo through her appointment of his wife to office; and in discussing with litigants regarding cases pending before the Supreme Court.
a. Is the flip-flopping of the Court in collegial decisions attributable to Corona alone or to a body struggling to arrive at justice? Did Corona himself flip-flop?
b. Is the Court prohibited from modifying prior decisions or doctrines?
c. When and by whom was Mrs. Corona appointed to John Hay Management Corp.? Is a husband obliged to compel his wife to turn down an appointment? Or did he try to dissuade her at all? Or was he overruled by the wife?
d. Can a husband be made answerable for acts of the wife?
e. Will Justice Carpio be asked to testify about the alleged lobbying about pending cases?
IV. Respondent betrayed the public trust and/or committed culpable violation of the Constitution when it blatantly disregarded the principle of separation of powers by issuing a status quo ante order against the House of Representatives in the case concerning the impeachment of then Ombudsman Merceditas Navarro-Gutierrez.
a. What can be made of the fact that the status quo ante order was a resolution of eight justices? How did Corona vote on the later reversal of the status quo ante order?
V. Respondent committed culpable violations of the Constitution through wanton arbitrariness and partiality in consistently disregarding the principle of res judicata and in deciding in favor of gerry-mandering in the cases involving the 16 newly created cities, and the promotion of Dinagat Island into a province.
a. Were not the League of Cities case and the Dinagat case collegial decisions upholding acts of Congress? Were the laws involved statutory responses of Congress to the people as “master” as against the greed of the League of Cities?
b. Was not the Fasap (Flight Attendants and Stewards Association of the Philippines) decision also collegial?
c. Is the Supreme Court powerless to look into the activities of its members (e.g., plagiarism) especially if it involves things that might affect the reputation of the Court?
d. Was not the creation of new districts in Camarines Sur done by Congress, the representative of the people?
e. Who decides the application of the principle of proportionality (or “one man, one vote”) in the size of districts?
VI. Respondent betrayed the public trust through his partiality in granting a temporary restraining order (TRO) in favor of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her husband Jose Miguel Arroyo in order to give them an opportunity to escape prosecution and to frustrate the ends of justice, and in distorting the Supreme Court decision on the effectivity of the TRO in view of a clear failure to comply with the conditions of the Supreme Court’s own TRO.
a. The constitutionality of the restriction on the right to travel through a Department of Justice circular on hold-departure orders is pending before the Court with the decision expected after New Year. Should the Senate preempt the Supreme Court decision?
b. What is the import, if any, of the existence of a House bill and a Senate bill disempowering the DOJ?
c. The continuing effectivity of the TRO has been affirmed by the Supreme Court. What power does the Senate have over it?
VII. Respondent betrayed the public trust and/or committed graft and corruption when he failed and refused to account for the Judiciary Development Fund (JDF) and Special Allowance for the Judiciary (SAJ) collections.
a. Involved in this is the interpretation of the extent of fiscal autonomy of the Court. What is the jurisprudence on this? Will the Senate apply or depart from existing jurisprudence on the subject?