Battle not yet won: Youth solon warns vs creation of ‘Aquino Supreme Court’
While welcoming the guilty verdict against Chief Justice Renato Corona, Kabataan Partylist Representative Raymond “Mong” Palatino today said the people’s fight for accountability and independence in the judiciary has not yet been won with Corona’s removal from office as “the people still have to guard against Palace machinations to establish an Aquino court.”
The youth lawmaker, who is one of the 188 lawmakers who signed the impeachment complaint, said “even as Corona’s conviction opens up a space for a much-needed transformation process in the judiciary system, the people should remain vigilant and not allow the ruling Aquino regime to take control of the Supreme Court, make the High Court subservient to its whims, and pave the way for the reversal of the recent ruling to distribute Hacienda Luisita.”
“The people’s gains in this impeachment trial will all be reversed if Aquino’s malevolent plans to install a subservient court would come to fruition. We may have removed Corona who is beholden to the interests of the former ruling administration, but the appointment of a new Chief Justice who enjoys the blessings of Aquino and undermines the supposed independence of the judiciary is far from what the people want. We must exercise extreme vigilance in the coming days and weeks to ensure that the next Chief Justice will be truly independent, accountable to the public, and beholden to only one master—the Filipino people,” the youth solon said.
On Tuesday afternoon, the senate sitting as an impeachment court adjudged the highest judicial officer of the land guilty of Article II of the impeachment complaint which states that he committed culpable violation of the Constitution and/or betrayed pubic trust when he failed to disclose to the public his statements of assets, liabilities and net worth as required under Sec. 17, Article XI of the 1987 Constitution. The senator-judges no longer proceeded with the vote on the other impeachment articles as the prosecution needed at least 16 affirmative votes to just one article to secure a conviction.
“A conviction is the only fitting conclusion in this five-month quest for truth and accountability. A public official who is not truthful to the public about his wealth and properties conspicuously lacks the moral fitness to assume an important post in government tasked with interpreting our laws. Allowing Corona to go scot free and unscathed after damning revelations of his undeclared millions would send a wrong message to all government officials and employees that skirting the constitutional provision of full disclosure of wealth and properties is acceptable,” Palatino said.
‘Bring fight to the next level’
Meanwhile, Palatino is calling on the Filipino people to bring the fight for accountability and transparency in government “to the next level” by pushing all government officials, especially the President, his cabinet secretaries, Supreme Court justices and members of Congress, to sign a waiver similar to that of Corona’s authorizing agencies to probe and disclose all their respective peso and dollar accounts and properties.
“The dragon has not been slayed yet. The evils of corruption, ill-gotten wealth, dubious money flows and lavish lifestyles of public officials are still lurking in the shadows,” said Palatino, who believes Corona’s waiver challenge merits a closer look.
“Those who are unwilling to sign a similar waiver on these accounts and assets all appear as hypocrites in the eyes of the public. Now that Corona has been removed from office, we should seize this golden opportunity to bring legitimacy to the impeachment process by intensifying the fight for public accountability, further the people’s campaign for transparency and good governance, and have offenders and violators of our Constitution suffer the same fate as Corona,” he said.