Tonight, the Defense lawyers of Chief Justice Renato Corona on Sunday accused Malacañang of pressuring senator-judges to defy a court order in exchange for P100 million. Below is the press statement from the defense panel, Secretary Lacierda and Executive Secretary Ochoa.
Press statement of the defense panel of the Hon. CJ Renato C. Corona
Good evening. We have called this presscon to air our grave concerns of the turn of events in the impeachment trial of CJ Corona. Yesterday, we received very reliable info that Exec. Sec. Paquito “Jojo” Ochoa, acting in behalf of Pres. Benigno Aquino III, was personally contacting and phoning Senator-Judges to persuade or pressure them to defy the TRO issued by SC in favor of PSBank. We condemn, in the strongest terms, the efforts of the president to undermine constitutional process that he himself initiated. CJ Corona willingly participated with good faith, with belief that he will have a fair trial. It is now apparent that the president is bent on convivting C corona at all costs . This is confirmed by recent announcements of plans of House of Representatives acting in concert with the president to impeach other members of the SC. As we have stated from the very beginning, this case is but a plan to subjugate the SC.
As lawyers, we in the defense team are duty-bound to defend the Constitution and the independence of the judiciary. This morning, several newspapers have carried banner headlines that the Catholic Bishop Conference have called upon all concerned to observe the rule of law by respecting processes of judiciary, most especially by the SC. We hope that this will galvanize those who still believe to adhere the rule of law and not to succumb to sheer brute political power.
Nanganganib ang ating demokrasya. Humantong na po tayo sa punto an pangulo mismo ang tumatalikod sa Saligang Batas at naghihikayat na wag nang sundin at galangin ang mga utos ng kataastaasang hukuman. Ginoong pangulo, ipatupad nyo po ang karapatan ng depensa na maglabas ng ebidensya ayon sa proseso na pinili nyo at sinasaayos ng Konstitusyon. Kung bank account lang pinoproblema nyo po, wag po kayong mag-apura, bubuksan po lahat yan ng punong mahistrado dahil hindi po nya ninakaw yan. Relaks lang po, Mr. President, wag nyo po naman ipasuway sa mga senador at punong mahistrado ang batas gaya ng gusto nyo laging ipagawa sa mga tao nyo. Pilitin nyo pong maging huwaran sating mga mamaayan, buhayin niyo po ang independensya ng ating mga institusyon, wag nyo pong patayin.
We therefore call on our brethren in the profession to be more vigilant and stand up for the independence of the judiciary and the integrity of our Constitutional processes. This is an attack on entire legal community. We call upon the Filipino people to guard against efforts to undermine the Constitution and the rule of law. We must join together to secure the independence of the judiciary. Otherwise, the oppressed will find no refuge from abuses and rights cannot thrive over injustice. May god bless our nation. Thank you very much.
Reaction of presidential spokesperson Sec. Edwin Lacierda to the statements of Chief Justice Corona’s defense team:
The defense counsel’s press conference is an example of how you should not believe everything you hear. There is a lot of loose talk and idle not to mention malicious speculation going around. It is incumbent on people who should know better not to fall for every conspiracy theory whispered to you.
Statement of Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr.:
On the statement of the defense panel of the Chief Justice
[Released on February 12, 2012]
I deny the unsubstantiated, unattributed allegations by the defense team of Chief Justice Renato C. Corona that I have been calling members of the Philippine Senate to convince them to defy the TRO the Supreme Court has issued with regard to allowing access to the dollar accounts of the Chief Justice.
The honorable members of the Senate have shown that they are more than capable of making the decisions necessary to ensure that the Chief Justice receives a fair and impartial trial. The Chief Justice’s lawyers, as they have shown in their Press Conference tonight, believe otherwise.
As a member of the Bar, I respect the right of the lawyers of the Chief Justice to protect the interests of their client, within the bounds of the law. However, citing rumors to prove baseless accusations to support their cause goes against the principles of decent and ethical lawyering. It is a desperate gimmick that does not belong in the proceedings of any court of law, especially an impeachment trial.
In contrast to the clarity and consistency of the President’s advocacy for accountability, transparency, and reform, the defense panel of the Chief Justice prefers squid tactics. Their conspiracy theories concerning the Executive Secretary is a diversionary tactic to distract attention from the evidence coming to light in the impeachment trial.
The Senate has been conducting the impeachment trial in full light of day; the prosecution and defense have been given every opportunity to have themselves heard. What cannot be escaped is the growing mountain of evidence which the defense’s squid tactics cannot hide.
We can only surmise that the defense has run out of ways to conceal the culpability of its client, and has engineered this move as a last-ditch effort to confuse the proceedings and prevent a resolution.
We believe neither the Senate nor the Filipino people will fall for such a brazen strategy. Earlier today, CEAP called on the Chief Justice to disclose his dollar accounts, asking why it is, that a Chief Justice who asserts his own innocence, is resisting requests for the disclosure of his foreign currency deposit accounts? They did not ask the Chief Justice to do this later, but now.
The only danger in the disclosure of the Chief Justice’s assets, is the Chief Justice’s defense: the integrity of the banking system, our system of laws, the cause of justice and good governance are not endangered by the proceedings of the impeachment court. The case has been joined. The parties cannot walk away from the constitutionally-ordained procedure to resolve this case. Stop running, and stop hiding. Face your accusers, and let justice be done.