Even before the Senate can start its trial on the impeachment complaints filed against Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona, President Benigno Aquino III has reportedly requested for a list of possible replacements.
In a newspaper report last Wednesday, Aquino asked his legal advisers for a list of candidates that would replace the beleaguered chief justice. Since he is not a lawyer, the president, according to presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda, needs to rely on his legal team to come up with the list.
Lacierda, however, clarified that what Aquino has been doing was not an encroachment on the function of the Judicial and Bar Council, a constitutional body tasked to screen nominees to the judiciary.
It’s the duty of JBC to come up with a shortlist of possible replacement for a chief justice and submit it to the president for final decision. And it is yet to convene to tackle the issue on the next chief justice.
But it is still a long way to go before the country can have a new chief justice. The process is long for Corona to be replaced. He is yet to face the Senate for his impeachment trial, which will start next month.
Although the Chief Justice is already impeached at the House of Representatives, it is at the Senate where the true battle will take place.Corona may be up for a very tough sailing at the Senate. But at least he has all the chance to defend himself with a legal team during his trial.
But why is Aquino so eager to have Corona replaced? The answer clearly lies in the fact that Corona is an appointee of former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Aquino must be thinking he cannot be successful in his campaign for Arroyo’s conviction if Corona will remain at the helm of the country’s highest court.
Now, the Aquino administration cannot deny public perception that the president is encroaching on the duty of JBC. The fact that he is leading in the crusade against Corona and wanted a list for his possible replacement could only mean a display of influence, which might affect the function of the council.