A day before the resumption of the impeachment trial against Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona, we gather as Filipinos to individually and collectively reflect on the fundamental issues brought before the Honorable Senator Judges of the impeachment court and the public. As religious leaders, professionals, students, business groups, civil society organizations, social movements and concerned citizens, we have given our collective backing to the impeachment process, recognizing impeachment as a legitimate means to exact accountability from our government officials, ensure transparency of our leaders in a democracy, and to provide Chief Justice Corona the opportunity to explain himself in the proper forum.
We thank the Senator Judges of the impeachment court for recognizing that they must conduct the trial akin to a legal process, while remaining sensitive to the real political dynamics that the trial entails. We laud decisions made in favor of surfacing the truth and seeking accountability. We have listened over the past weeks, endeavoring to go beyond the legal technicalities, in our effort to understand the fundamental issues brought before the impeachment court and the public, and we will continue to accompany this important juncture in the trial, to its conclusion, holding the sacred and universal truth that sovereignty resides in the people and that all government authority emanates from the people.
We come here today, united in our call to religious leaders, the Honorable Senator Judges, the Honorable Justices of the Supreme Court, and to our colleagues, families and friends to vigilantly maintain our collective focus on the following fundamental issues:
CHARACTER AND MORAL INTEGRITY
The articles of impeachment are very serious. They go straight to the heart of the matter—the moral fitness of Chief Justice Corona to serve as the highest judicial official of the country. We must ask if Chief Justice Corona has shown his conduct to be beyond reproach, as is expected of every Judge especially the Chief Justice of the land. We must reflect on whether the character and integrity of Chief Justice Corona represents our highest standards of integrity and moral uprightness as a nation. We must ask ourselves how we can return and reaffirm our collective faith in the dignity and integrity of the Judiciary, by the decision we will make as a people, represented by our Senators, in this crucial juncture of our history.
TRUTH AND ACCOUNTABILITY
We believe it is only by truth-telling that the Chief Justice can prove that he is acting with public responsibility. Reforming the judiciary can only begin when the cloak of secrecy and deep suspicion that surrounds the institution is removed. More than ever, Chief Justice Corona must reveal the truth. Legal technicalities that of late have become the hallmark of the Corona defense panel must give way to the search for truth and justice. We ask no less.
We need to find the truth and seek accountability for the non-disclosure of properties in Chief Justice Corona’s SALN and ask the Supreme Court to allow the opening of his foreign currency deposits. As Chief Justice Corona lays his defense, we must carefully and vigilantly search for the truth and determine if he has acted with public responsibility – and seek accountability for any untruth unworthy of the position and responsibility we have given him as Chief Justice.
PUBLIC TRUST AND EMPOWERMENT
The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is a public office and a public trust. Chief Justice Corona was impeached by duly elected representatives of the people. We must discern in the coming weeks, as individuals and as a nation if, as Chief Justice, Corona has valued and empowered this public trust or if he has used it to disempower the very institution and public he serves. We must seriously reflect and decide if Chief Justice Corona still enjoys the trust and confidence of the public to decide with finality on cases that affect laws, property and lives of Filipinos and our nation.
WE CALL on everyone to listen to various voices and opinions, reflect on these three fundamental issues and share their stands regarding the impeachment in the coming days and weeks.
WE CALL on all religious leaders (Pastors, Imams, Religious Sisters and Brothers, Clergy and the Bishops) and people of moral authority (elders of communities, teachers and parents) to engage the members of your communities and families into respectful discourse on the issues at hand. Allow and encourage them to speak their mind, to ask questions, to share their sentiments, while also being respectful and listening to the views of others. In doing so, remind them of what is important for you and what is important for us as a people. Remind them of the meaning of justice, truth, respect, freedom, human dignity and integrity.
WE CALL on our Honorable Senator Judges to continue to conduct the impeachment trial in a fair and just manner, to seek the truth and address these fundamental issues, to do so in a manner that empowers Filipinos to understand and participate in this process and to bring the trial to its conclusion with the welfare of the Filipino people in mind.
WE CALL on our Honorable Justices of the Supreme Court to take on a more cooperative stance in engaging the impeachment trial court. We recognize and respect that the Supreme Court is a co-equal branch of the Senate of the Republic of the Philippines. We believe that being equal does not preclude, but should inspire a spirit of cooperation. This spirit of cooperation was promised by no less than the Chief Justice at the beginning of the impeachment process. We respectfully plead that the Supreme Court re-assess its stance on the matter of the confidentiality of the dollar accounts of the Chief Justice and on the restriction for any and all court personnel to participate in the trial as witnesses.
FINALLY, WE CALL for Chief Justice Renato Corona to take a voluntary leave of office from his functions as the Chief Justice, until such time that the trial is completed and a decision is rendered by the impeachment court. We believe that his continued presence in, and influence upon the court which makes various decisions in relation to his own trial, will result in a process that cannot be deemed as fair nor credible.
WE PRAY that through our collective efforts, animated by our faith and trust in God, we can continue to build a nation empowered by truth, guided by integrity and served by a transparent and accountable government. ###