MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang refuted a statement of Chief Justice Renato Corona that the root cause of his impeachment was the Supreme Court's adverse decision on the Hacienda Luisita owned by the President's family.
Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the root cause of Corona's impeachment was Corona's "lapdog loyalty" to former President Arroyo as shown by the High Court's issuance of the TRO against the watchlist order on the former President.
"It's not about Hacienda Luisita. It's about his lapdog loyalty to the former President. Kitang-kita po ito sa TRO na inisyu nila without giving the opportunity [to be heard]," Lacierda told reporters.
"Ang puno't dulo nito po nito ay 'yung TRO because I was present in that room with the President when the Supreme Court spokesperson announced that the TRO will be… issued without giving the government the opportunity to be heard."
The President's spokesman said the Aquino administration was not opposed to land distribution, citing the fact that the government did not file a motion for reconsideration when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of to distribute Hacienda Luisita.
He added that it was when the Supreme Court earlier ruled that the stock distribution option was valid that the Aquino administration filed a motion for reconsideration.
"The first decision by the Supreme Court on the Hacienda Luisita issue was favoring Hacienda Luisita. Ano po ang sinabi ng Korte Suprema? Valid po ang stock distribution option. That was valid. Ano po ang ginawa ng gobyerno and I mean the Aquino government? The Aquino government filed a motion for reconsideration questioning that decision. At ano po ang ginawa ng Supeme Court? Bumaligtad sila at sinabing the only valid option is land distribution. What did we do after that? Did we file a motion for reconsideration on the decision of land distribution? No. The government agreed. The President agreed. He respected that decision. What is now the issue? The issue is the valuation. It's still pending with the Supreme Court," Lacierda said.
Corona earlier told radio DZBB that the impeachment case against him was prompted by the Supreme Court decision to distribute the Cojuangco-owned Hacienda Luisita to farmer-beneficiaries.
He said he has opposed a P10 billion compensation to the Cojuangcos for the loss of their hacienda, thus starting impeachment moves against him.
"They want to remove the head because I am the one stopping the P10 billion payment," he claimed.
Aside from the SC's Luisita ruling, Corona had previously cited other reasons allegedly behind the filing of the impeachment complaint.
He accused his fellow Supreme Court magistrate, Antonio Carpio, of helping prosecutors in the impeachment case because Carpio wanted to replace him. "Hindi mo maalis sa akin dahil matagal na niyang gustong maging Chief Justice. Alam ko yung partners niya sa law firm ang gumagalaw," he said, referring to Carpio's law firm, Carpio Villaraza & Cruz.
He also said Transportation Secretary Mar Roxas wanted him removed because it would help in his electoral protest against Vice-President Jejomar Binay.
He also said Aquino wanted to control the judiciary and establish a dictatorship.
'Let Sereno testify'
The Palace asked Corona and the Supreme Court to allow Associate Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno to appear in the impeachment court to testify on the circumstances of the issuance of the TRO against the watchlist order against Mrs. Arroyo.
Lacierda said this is one way for the "truth" to "come out."
"In the dissenting opinion of Justice Sereno, kitang kita po, minaneobra ni Chief Justice Corona 'yung information na sinabing full force in effect na ang TRO whereas in truth and in fact hindi pa complied [with] ang conditions ng TRO," he said.
"Let me ask Chief Justice Corona and the justices, you lift judicial privilege and let Justice Sereno speak out and see if she is lying. Let the justices speak out and see who's telling the truth. The only way for the truth [to] come out if you let Justice Sereno speak out and waive your judicial privilege and let's see," he added.
The President's spokesman dared Corona not to wait for his turn to present his evidence in court if he has nothing to hide about his assets and dollar accounts. He said Corona could have done the explanation before the media.
"Truth does not require that it be shown in the impeachment. If you believe in the truth and if you believe that you have been forthright and honest then show it anytime. It does not require a formal setting like the court," Lacierda said.
He said that the President never went personal against the Chief Justice and turned the tables against Corona, saying that it was Corona who dared the President to release Aquino's psychological records that, according to the Palace, never existed.
"Nag-asal kalye po si Chief Justice Corona," Lacierda said.
Lacierda took exception to Corona's call on the President to instead focus on the economy and providing jobs. He labeled this as "spin" of Corona's "political operators."
He stressed that the administration has been addressing the concerns on on jobs and the economy.
"There are none so blind as those who refuse to see. There are none so deaf as those who refuse to hear," he said.