MANILA, Philippines - Chief Justice Renato Corona fired another broadside at President Aquino, challenging the Chief Executive to reveal his statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALNs), bank records and even his psychological records.
"Marahil, higit na makabubuti kung ilabas na rin ninyo, Ginoong Pangulo, ang inyong SALN, at ipaliwanag ito sa taong-bayan. Siguro, isama ninyo na rin ang inyong bank accounts at psychological records na matagal ng isyu. Mayroon po tayong obligasyon na ipakita sa taong-bayan na maayos ang ating pagiisip," he said in a statement.
Corona's challenge came after the President accused the chief magistrate of lying in his 2010 SALN when he declared only P3.5 million in cash when he had P31.5 million in the bank.
Aquino also accused Corona of only being appointed chief magistrate to cover up the alleged wrongdoings of the Arroyo administration.
In response, Corona challenged Aquino not to "meddle, preempt or influence" the Senate impeachment court by issuing statements through the media.
On the charge that he is trying to deceive the public, Corona said it was the House prosecution team that released a list of his alleged 45 real estate properties, moved for the opening of his income tax returns and even used an allegedly leaked bank document to get subpoenas for his bank records.
"Sino po ba ang talagang nanlilinlang ng taong bayan?" he asked.
PNoy already declared SALNs
Corona's challenge for Aquino to declare his SALNs, however, seems to have been answered already.
A Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) report earlier said Aquino declared a net worth of P54,999,370 as of December 31, 2010, representing a 256% increase in his wealth in 12 months.
The report said Aquino received P17,031,484 in "receivables" after the Aquinos sold a prime property in Antipolo that was part of estate of the Sumulong clan, the maternal relatives of Cory Aquino. He also received 2 real estate properties following the death of his mother, former president Cory Aquino, on August 1, 2009.
Aquino has not disclosed his bank accounts but disclosed P6,223,704 in cash as of end-December 2010.
Corona's challenge for the President to reveal his psychological records harkens back to a 2010 smear campaign against Aquino.
During the 2010 presidential campaign, ABS-CBN received copies from 2 Nacionalista Party members of a fake psychiatric report that said Aquino suffered clinical depression.
The psychiatric report was declared fake by both Fr. Carmelo "Tito" Caluag and the Ateneo de Manila University psychology department.
The Nacionalista Party later denied issuing the fake psychiatric report.
Rabe v Flores
In his statement, Corona also took exception to the President's use of a 1997 case wherein court interpreter Delsa Flores from Davao was fired for failing to declare in her SALN a market stall she owned. Aquino said the same strict standards should be used in the case of Corona.
Corona said Flores was fired not just for failure to declare ownership of a market stall but because she received double compensation from the judiciary as well as the Municipality of Panabo.
The Supreme Court decision, however, states that Flores' failure to disclose her business interest "is inexcusable and is a clear violation of Republic Act No. 6713 (Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees)."
PNoy using Executive branch against me
In his statement, Corona said it was not the President's duty to "explain things that need explanation" but to solve the nation's problems such as rising poverty and gasoline prices.
He defended his initial non-disclosure of his SALNs, saying he was merely following the guidelines set by the Supreme Court for the past 20 years. He added that he will explain his SALNs once it is the turn of the defense to present evidence.
He also noted the huge discrepancy between his defense team of 20 "pro bono" lawyers against the 188 congressmen and 60 private prosecutors working against him.
"Add to this the Bureau of Internal Revenue and Land Transportation Office commissioners, Land Registration Authority Administrator, Registers of Deeds, Bureau of Immigration Commissioner and many other officials and government officials who are ordered to find fault in me and my family," he said.
Corona urged the public to stop the President from controlling the Senate and the Supreme Court, saying that Aquino already controls the Executive branch and the House of Representatives.
"Huwag po nating payagan na mahawakan pa niya ang Senado. Huwag po tayong pumayag na posasan niya ang Korte Suprema at buong hudikatura. Ito po ay para sa ating demokrasya. Ito po ay para sa ating lahat," he said.
Corona, PNoy word war
Corona and Aquino have been engaged in a word war since the House of Representatives filed an impeachment complaint against the Chief Justice last December 12, 2011.
Aquino has repeatedly challenged Corona to open up his dollar accounts, even as the Supreme Court granted a temporary restraining order stopping the Senate impeachment court from opening Corona's foreign currency deposits.
For his part, the Chief Justice said the entire impeachment trial started because Aquino does not want to lose the Hacienda Luisita estate owned by his relatives, which is set to be distributed to farmer-beneficiaries under the government's agrarian reform program.