Davide: CJ trial may have cleansing effect on judiciary

Exclusive report by Ces Oreña Drilon, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 28 2012 10:33 PM | Updated as of May 29 2012 03:08 PM

Ex-CJ says it's wrong for Corona to use foreign currency law

MANILA, Philippines - Former Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. believes that Chief Justice Renato Corona Jr. should have declared his dollars in his statements of assets, liabilities, and net worth (SALNs) as required by the Constitution and the law.

Davide told ANC's "Pipol" in an exclusive interview that Corona's position on the confidentiality of dollar deposits does not hold water.

"The law itself, the Foreign Currency Deposit Act (FCDA), was impliedly repealed by the 1973 Constitution because it was passed in 1972, and as well as the 1987 Constitution and by Republic Act 6713 [Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials]," he said.

"Consequently, it cannot be availed of. So the chief justice cannot say that 'I did not disclose the dollar deposits because I had no written authority from me to disclose it,'" he added.

Corona admitted last Friday that he did not declare $2.4 million of his supposed dollar deposits due to the absolute confidentality clause in the FCDA law.

Davide, however, said Corona's stand is incorrect.

"The law allows amendments to the FCDA that might reduce the rights therein granted. RA 6713 effectively reduced that right, assuming that he was covered, benefitted by the FCDA," he explained.

"His rights thereunder were effectively reduced by RA 6713. I would say that RA 6713 reduced whatever right he had under FCDA," Davide added.

Cleansing, not chilling, effect

He also disagrees with Corona's belief that his impeachment trial sent a chilling message to the judiciary.

Davide said an impeachment trial upholds checks and balances in the a democratic form of government.

"I respect his [Corona's] opinion but I cannot agree with the principle involved. If that were so, the Constitution would have not provided the mechanism for the impeachment, including the chief justice and the members of the Supreme Court to be among the impeachable officers," he said.

"There is nothing to fear when it comes to the impeachment of a particular individual," he added.

"If you have not committed anything impeachable in character, the trial itself may be a catalyst in order to prove that all [allegations] were really manufactured or fabricated," Davide said.

"If it will be proven that he [Corona] has committed an impeachable offense, it will have a cleansing effect on the judiciary," he said. "A healthy process, the maturation of our democratic institutions."

Davide said the people must respect the Senate's verdict, whatever it may be.

"We have to trust the impeachment court. Whatever its decision, we have to respect it. That is still part of the rule of law," he said.

The former chief justice said the impeachment court is the people's court, the people cast their vote through the senator judges and their verdict is an expression of the people's will. - report from ANC