'I am still fortunate because I have the opportunity to defend my principles'
MANILA, Philippines - Mrs. Cristina Roco Corona, wife of Chief Justice Renato Corona, was teary-eyed during the singing of the song "Impossible Dream" that culminated the mass dedicated to judicial independence at the Supreme Court (SC) today initiated by multi-sectoral group Solidarity for Sovereignty(S4S).
This was the 4th of the group's 9-day novena that began last Friday.
Mrs. Corona attended the mass along with the Chief Justice, and their children, Francis and Carla. Youngest daughter, Cherry, is in the United States.
Celebrant Fr. Dave Clay assured the congregation, amid the looming impeachment trial against the Chief Magistrate, that "God has His own time," and that "He knows what is going on in our country."
"God is in charge of our fate and He is in charge of our country... God has has own time.... if you really trust the Lord, why are you anxious?" Clay said in his homily.
"All He wants of us is pray, not prey, but pray. Let's stop criticizing, let's stop judging, and start praying," he added.
He also asked for prayers for the Chief Justice and the justices of the Supreme Court, "that they may be protected, and function the way they are supposed to function."
Speaking to reporters at the end of the mass, Corona said he was moved by the homily.
'It is God who is in control'
Corona, whose impeachment trial at the Senate, sitting as an Impeachment Court, begins on January 16, said he found comfort in the priest's message.
"It is God who is in control, [the priest] said," Corona told reporters.
He reiterated his position to submit to the trial and not give in to calls for his resignation.
"Lahat na itinaya ko na dito. Hindi na para sa akin ito, para na ito sa demokrasya," he added.
'I am still fortunate'
He may be the first Chief Justice of the country to be impeached and put on trial, but Corona said he still felt he is more fortunate than others because he is being given the opportunity to bare himself before the public.
"Manalo, matalo, ang mahalaga rito ay maipakilala ko ang sarili ko. Let is not be said that I did not defend my principles," Corona said.
"I am still fortunate because I have the opportunity na panindigan ang aking prinsipyo, not all are given this opportunity," he added.
The 9-day novena for judicial independence will end on January 14th, 2 days before the trial at the Senate.
Safeguard our democracy -- S4S
In a written statement passed on to attendees of the mass, S4S called on "all freedom-loving Filipinos to safeguard our democracy and sovereignty and fight for it now that it is being attacked."
"This administration must be reminded that all authority of government emanates from the people and that its sovereign will must be respected and must prevail at all times.
"Let it be known to all and sundry that all members, supporters, sympathizers and advocates of the S4S be it religious or priest, military, youth, OFW (overseas Filipino worker), farmer, worker, urban poor, professional, etc. -- have agreed that it is time to stand up against the creeping dictatorship of this administration," the statement read.
S4S also stressed that the Constitution "has enshrined the checks and balances within government through the co-equality of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government."
The group also lambasted the 188 members of the House of Representatives that filed the impeachment complaint for "singling out" Corona "when 6 of his supposed crimes were all collegial in nature which is a clear manifestation of outright persecution by the legislative upon the instigation of the executive of the head of a co-equal branch of government."
In his 80-page answer to the Articles of Impeachment, Corona himself stressed that he "has no control over any Justice of the Supreme Court."
"The decision of the Supreme Court, either by division or en banc, is a result of the deliberative process and voting among the Justices. Each Justice has the prerogative to write and voice his separate or dissenting opinion. A concurrence of the majority, however, is needed to decide any case," Corona, in his Answer, said.