SYDNEY, Australia – President Benigno Aquino III turned the tables on former Chief Justice Renato Corona, who accused the Aquino administration of "continuing persecution" as he faces tax evasion charges filed by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).
Aquino said Corona's fate was the product of his own doing for not declaring all his assets and paying the appropriate taxes.
Bringing out a copy of the 1987 Constitution, Aquino read Article VII, Section 5 that spells out the President's oath of office to stress that it is his duty to execute laws.
He said that stopping BIR Commissioner Kim Henares from investigating and making Corona accountable would be an impeachable offense.
"Assuming may choice ako, hihintuin ko ang pag-aalam ng katotohanan dito. 'Pag hininto ko, aba, may lawful function na ginagawa 'yung BIR Commissioner, hininto ko siya, impeachable sa akin 'yun. She is performing her lawful role, I impeded her, may kaso ako," Aquino told reporters at the sidelines of his state visit to Australia.
"Kung susundin natin ang 'yung sa kanila [na], 'forgive and forget,' inutos ko na 'wag usigin ang may sala, I'm violating that provision I just showed you. So baka dapat hindi ako ang sisihin niya. Baka dapat humarap siya sa salamin, kung saan inangkin niya noong grade school siya na nagte-trade na siya ng dollars. Parang lahat itong inabutan nito, desisyon niya. Ako ginagawa ko lang ang trabaho ko. Kung palagay niya pine-personal ko siya, nasa kanya na 'yun," he added.
Aquino said Corona would have the chance to defend himself in the legal forum.
"Pero abogado siya, sabi niyang magaling, propesor siya ng batas, may pagkakataon siyang ipagtanggol ang sarili niya, eh ‘di harapin niya ang asunto. Kung wala siyang kasalanan, eh ‘di kayang-kaya niyang ipagtanggol ang sarili niya," he said.
Aquino added that he and Corona have different interpretations of the law, pointing out that Corona did not declare all his assets despite the law's requirement and for accepting his "midnight appointment" as Chief Justice despite a prohibition.
"Kasi kung sang-ayon siya na tama 'yung interpretasyon niya ng Constitution siguro hindi na niya dapat tinanggap 'yung pagiging Chief Justice," Aquino said.