MANILA, Philippines (1st UPDATE) - Impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona on Wednesday attacked President Benigno Aquino III for pushing his impeachment, saying his removal from the Supreme Court would give rise to a "creeping dictatorship".
Speaking before his supporters, Corona warned that removing him from office would mean that Aquino could appoint a chief justice "that he would hold by the neck."
The chief justice denied that he was a midnight appointee of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, noting that his appointment passed through the process as provided under the Constitution.
"Is it a sin to accept an honor such as this?" he asked. He added that the issue was being revived to inflame the emotions of the people and cause them to lose trust in the Supreme Court and the judiciary.
He also defended his wife, Cristina, after her appointment as a board member of John Hay Management Corporation was included in the Articles of Impeachment approved by the House of Representatives last Monday.
Corona said there was nothing wrong with his wife taking a position offered by then-President Arroyo, especially since it was done before he became chief justice. He was an associate justice at the time of his wife's appointment.
He noted that one couple and their children, possibly referring to Butch Secretary Butch Abad, his wife Batanes Rep. Henedina, and daughter and Presidential Management Staff chief Julia Abad, hold high positions in government.
"Baka akala nila ako ay susuko. Mapalad po ako na ako ay may mabait at matatag na kasambahay," he said. He then turned to his wife and said: "Mahal na mahal kita."
Corona said allegations that he has shown partiality towards Arroyo, who appointed him chief justice during the election appointment ban, were lies born of malice and imagination.
'I will not resign'
He also said he will never resign, since it will mean that Aquino will control not only the Cabinet and Congress, but also the judiciary.
"It will become a dictatorship born out of deceptions and the poisoning of the minds of the people," he said.
Corona said he does not believe that he is the only one being singled out by Malacañang.
He claimed many in the Supreme Court are also against a creeping Aquino dictatorship.
"Ito ang patutunguhan ng baluktot na daang matuwid (crooked righteous path)," he said, referring to Aquino's famous campaign slogan.
The chief justice said he had long held back his emotions despite being criticized continuously by the President.
To this, he said: "Wala po akong kasalanan sa inyo, Ginoong Pangulo. Wala po akong kasalanan sa bayan."
"Sabi nila, sarili ko lang daw po ang nakataya dito. What we fight for here is the freedom of the Supreme Court, the freedom of the judiciary and the defense of our democracy under the Constitution," he said.