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Tañada to Corona: “Inhibit yourself.”

Deputy Speaker Lorenzo “Erin” R. Tañada III  joined Senator Franklin M. Drilon in asking the Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato C. Corona to inhibit himself from participating in the decision of cases involving the former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

“Inhibit yourself and let the Supreme Court restore the public’s trust in the integrity of our legal processes to which we have subjected the former president,” Tañada said.

“I am making this appeal not because he was appointed to his current post by the former president, but because I sincerely believe that given their long history together, he can no longer not distance himself and be objective in his work as chief justice,” he said.

“For the tribunal to remain credible, our justices should assure the people that Gloria  Arroyo is tried  in a fair and impartial way,” Tañada explained.

“As a member of the Bar and a lawmaker of the people, I appeal to the Chief Justice  to act on this appeal  voluntarily, as a sign of good faith. Otherwise, absolutely every decision that the Court makes in the case will be questioned.”

Tañada reminded the chief justice that he served as Mrs. Arroyo’s chief of staff and spokesperson during both her vice-presidency and presidency. Corona also served as Acting Executive Secretary during her term. “This points to a uniquely close relationship between them that can taint the public’s perception of the trustworthiness of the process,” the lawmaker said.

“The actions against Mrs. Arroyo are under extremely close public scrutiny, and we need to avoid even the slightest appearance of partiality. It is essential for the Supreme Court to be able to claim that our citizens can rely on the legal system and the institution of the Judiciary, not just for this prosecution but for all the subsequent ones relating to accountability of public officers.”

“It is only incidental that he is Chief Justice. Anyone in his place—with that kind of relationship–would naturally be open to suspicion.  I do not think we should risk the damage that a cloud of doubt can cause to the process, so I think it is incumbent upon him to take the steps necessary to avoid that.”#