Carpio: No Conspiracy to Oust Corona as CJ

Article excerpt

MANILA, Philippines - Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio on Thursday denied conniving with President Benigno S. Aquino III to oust Chief Magistrate Renato C. Corona as he faced the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) screening for the top Supreme Court (SC) post.

Carpio, who was grilled by the seven-man JBC panel for almost two hours, said he never conspired with Aquino and Transportation and Communications Secretary Manuel "Mar" Roxas II in unseating Corona as earlier insinuated by the former SC chief.

"All these accusations will be exposed as false because I know they are not true," said Carpio when asked by Iloilo Rep. and JBC member Niel Tupas Jr. if he had an agreement with the President to impeach Corona.

"I never talked to these people. In fact, what they are saying is that I am not close to the President; that is why I will never be appointed. How can I convince 188 congressmen to sign the impeachment?" Carpio said.

Turning the tables on Tupas, the magistrate said: "You would know I'm not part of scheming because I never talked to you."

Carpio indirectly admitted that the impeachment trial has caused a rift between him and Corona.

Responding to a question sent via Twitter on whether or not he can still be friends with the former Chief Justice, Carpio said: "Why not? We can always forget and forgive."

Asked by Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta if he wants to see his "kumpare," Carpio said the SC had invited Corona to attend the inauguration of the Angeles City Hall of Justice last month, but his "kumpare" did not come.

It was recalled that at the beginning of his impeachment trial last January, Corona hinted that Carpio was allegedly eyeing his post.

In front of his supporters, Corona claimed that he was a "roadblock to three people" who wanted him out as Chief Justice.

He claimed that the first person wanted his ouster to stop the distribution of the Hacienda Luisita to landless farmers in Tarlac and that the second person he was referring to was the person "who really wants to be vice president but lost in the election in 2010."

Finally, Corona said he was opposed to a person whose ambition was to become Chief Justice.

Two months later in an interview in GMA7's "Unang Hirit," Corona directly accused Carpio of being part of a plot to oust him.

"Hindi mo maaalis sa akin na magduda kasi matagal na niya (Carpio) gusto maging chief justice. Ang alam ko mga partner sa law office niya; sila ang gumagalaw (You can't blame me for my suspicions, because he [Carpio] has long wanted to be Chief Justice. What I know is his partners in his law office are the ones moving)," Corona said.

Asked whether he would have resigned from the Supreme Court if he was in Corona's shoes, Carpio said he would have quit instead of going through an impeachment trial.

"If I misdeclared my SALN [Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net worth] to that extent, then I would have resigned right away," he said.

If there were good things that came out as a result of Corona's impeachment, the acting Chief Justice thinks that the problems in the Judiciary that had been neglected were now put in the spotlight.

"The impeachment was directed at a particular justice. But, I don't deny that it has brought out problems about the Judiciary, and we have to address them. Corona trial brought the Judiciary's problems to the fore," Carpio pointed out.

Given the chance to become the leader of the Judiciary, the most senior High Court official told the JBC that he will solve the problem of clogged dockets by training mediators and judges and simplifying rules in hearing and resolving cases.

"Through the simplified rules, we minimized motions to postpone and other dilatory tactics. It is time we expand it to all civil cases," Carpio said.

"I would like the court to make the Judiciary fair, honest, efficient. …