MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) -- Former Chief Justice Renato Corona said he has no regrets in making a stand and will continue doing so for the sake of judicial independence.
In a statement, Corona said: “I express my deep appreciation to the Filipino people for giving me the distinct privilege of serving this nation in various official capacities and ultimately as the Chief Justice. The time has come, however, to render service to our people outside of the limitations of public office.”
He said his quest will not end just by leaving the Supreme Court, warning that it has “only just begun.”
“A growing number of dedicated Filipinos have now taken the clarion call and, with the help of our friends in the media, many have taken up the cudgels of demanding higher levels of transparency through the outright waiver of confidentiality,” he added.
“This is the new standard for public trust in government service. We assure our people that this new thrust will bring better governance and a new culture for public service. The Filipino people deserve nothing less,” he said.
Majority of the senator-judges decided to oust Corona last Tuesday due to his failure to declare his dollar deposits plus a big amount of his peso deposits in his Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net worth.
In not disclosing his accounts, Corona said he is protected by absolute confidentiality provided under the Foreign Currency Deposit Act. With regard to his peso assets, he said did not disclose a large part of it because this was not all his since he commingled money of his children plus funds held in trust by his wife in Basa-Guidote Enterprises Inc.
Before the end of his trial, however, Corona managed to express a call for action as he signed a waiver for his bank accounts. Some government officials have followed suit, saying this was one lesson that can be gained in the aftermath of a trial that divided the nation.
Despite his ouster from office, some political pundits inside and outside the government said cases should still be pursued against Corona.
Several quarters are urging Malacañang, however, to practice restraint and focus its sights on the country’s other problems.
Senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada Jr. said the administration should stop going after Corona, citing his family's sad experience after EDSA 2.. He said the Senate has already done enough by stripping Corona of his position.
However, he said that if the Ombudsman finds probable cause against Corona for graft and corruption, then cases should be filed.
Some civil society groups added government officials should also sign similar waivers if they have nothing to hide.
The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) earlier lambasted Aquino for his inaction.
Fr. Edu Gariguez, executive secretary of the CBCP’s National Secretariat for Social Action – Justice and Peace, said: “He is strongly pushing transparency but he doesn’t want to sign a waiver of his bank accounts and other assets.”
He said he was disappointed with Aquino for breaking his campaign promise in 2010.
Malacañang has insisted there is no need for Aquino to sign such a waiver since he disclosed his wealth truthfully in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net worth. Moreover, Palace officials said the SALN authorizes the Ombudsman to probe into bank records of officials suspected of wrongdoing.
In his statement, Corona said the events of the last six months beginning with his impeachment “taught me and my family to put all our trust in God’s providence. He has been the healing touch, the calming presence and assuring protection in our most difficult moments; and by His Amazing Grace, we remain standing like trees firmly planted in the ground.”
He said he is humbled by the outpouring of affection and support coming from his supporters.
He also thanked his defense team that even with the outcome, “I believe you did an excellent job within the confines of what was legal and moral.”
“We did our best, but reality has a way of getting in the way of idealism. I am grateful to all of you for sharing my belief in the cause,” he told his team.
He also thanked the Supreme Court and the entire judiciary “for the privilege of leading you and fighting for you.”
Corona also thanked the doctors, nurses and hospital staff of The Medical City. “Your dedicated and selfless service indeed demonstrates that Filipino health professionals are among the world’s best because of their medical expertise and specialization, and their caring and nurturing attention,” he said.
Corona was only discharged yesterday after staying in the hospital. He stayed at the hospital’s intensive care unit for a couple of days after suffering from hypoglycemia during his testimony on May 22. Doctors said he may have had a heart attack.
“I am likewise grateful to all who offered prayers for a favorable outcome, for my speedy recovery and for my family’s strength to withstand the extraordinary ordeal we are going through. I would like to make special mention of our online supporters from near and far all over the world. I am inspired by your dedication and trust in me and my cause. Thank you from the bottom of my heart,” he said.