And the plot thickens.
Embattled Chief Justice Renato Corona claims that his impeachment is obviously President Benigno Aquino III's way to get back at him over Hacienda Luisita.
“Itong impeachment trial na ito ay isang huwad, isang paghihiganti ng sukdulan at kahiya-hiyang tangka na pigilin ang pagbabahagi ng lupain sa Hacienda Luisita,” Corona said in a statement Monday.
Corona, the highest magistrate in PH, said Aquino should as well be impeached for violating the Constitution.
“The president has clearly committed an impeachable offense when he came out swinging by openly urging the senator-judges to disobey the Constitution he has personally sworn to uphold,” he said.
Corona was referring to claims that Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, acting in behalf of Aquino, allegedly offered senator-judges P100 million worth of earmarked projects if they would vote against Supreme Court’s temporary restraining order.
The SC granted on Feb. 9 the petition of Philippine Savings Bank to issue a TRO stopping the impeachment court from compelling the bank to present Corona’s dollar accounts as evidence for the prosecution.
The Senate, voting 13-10 on Monday, however upheld SC’s TRO.
Corona also accused the prosecution of illegally extracting evidence against him, and stressed that he has not broken any law.
“To the prosecution team, I do know my law. I have not broken any law. I have no liability to the people and to the government,” the chief justice said.
He added, “Since the prosecution alleged wrongdoing, the obligation to prove it is theirs and theirs alone. Do not extract it from me through means that are foul, coercive and illegal because this can only mean one thing: you did not have any iota of evidence against me when you filed the impeachment complaint.”
Amid the long process of impeachment, Corona lamented his family's suffering.
“It pains me to see my family suffer the reckless abandon of a few who want to paint a different Renato C. Corona. I hope this persecution will never happen to any other official. I would not wish it on my worst enemy, should I have one,” he said.
Corona claims he and his family are naturally well-off and that he's just good in handling his money.
“My wife and I have been privileged to come from families of comfortable means. We have lived simple and frugal lives since we got married more than 40 years ago, to the point of thriftiness. This contributed to how we have been able to accumulate these assets,” he explained.
Corona then appealed to the public not to make any hasty conclusions and to wait for the defense’s time to answer all the allegations against him.