Philippine Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona

MANILA, Dec 21 (Mabuhay) — Reiterating its stand against the impeachment of Chief Justice Renato Corona, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) on Wednesday denounced lawmakers who pushed for it and for singling out Corona in their complaint.

The IBP, the country’s official organization of lawyers, pointed out that Corona did not even pen the Supreme Court (SC) decisions now being used against him.

These include the alleged flip-flopping of the SC on the issue of the creation of 16 new cities, and the Court’s issuance of a temporary restraining order lifting the travel ban on former President Gloria Arroyo.

“We are bothered because this is a clear and patent display of disregard of the constitutional guarantee to equal protection of the law,” said IBP President Roan Libarios. “They are singling out one justice who was not even the ponente in any of the decisions.”

Libarios added that if the SC indeed erred in its decisions, then all justices must be impeached because its rulings are collegial.

He believes the impeachment of Corona has “acquired the dimension of being a partisan tool to achieve certain political ends.”

Corona, an alleged midnight appointee of Arroyo, has been at odds with President Aquino.

Libarios and fellow IBP officials stressed that the impeachment complaint has serious procedural and constitutional defects.

For instance, they said many of the 188 congressmen who signed the articles of impeachment have not even read it.

The IBP, however, will not file any petition before the SC to stop the impeachment proceedings “to maintain its independence and integrity as an organization,” Libarios said.

Instead, the IBP will form a communications group that will go around the country to educate the public about the impeachment and its implications, and a group that will monitor the progress of the trial.

The trial is set to begin in January 2012 in the Senate, which convened as an impeachment court before going on recess this month.

Asked if the SC can act on the petitions against Corona’s impeachment even if it involves one of its members, the IBP said the Constitution provides for it.

“The SC, by reason of the mandate it has under the Constitution, cannot be deprived of the power of judicial review,” Ramon Esguerra, IBP’s general counsel, said.

The group clarified that they are not siding with Corona on the issue.

“We’re not here in defense of the Chief Justice. We’re here in defense of the Constitution,” Libarios said. (MNS)