Corona: Nation teetering towards one-man rule

By David Dizon, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Mar 15 2012 10:47 AM | Updated as of Mar 15 2012 09:40 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Chief Justice Renato Corona warned Thursday that the country is now teetering towards a one-man rule due to efforts of the executive and legislative branches to undermine the judiciary's independence.

Speaking at the silver anniversary convention of the Philippine Women Judges Association, Inc., Corona urged the country's women judges to continue to uphold the rule of law.

"Recent events point out that our nation is now in grave peril of teetering towards a one-man rule where executive action aims to...shackle judicial independence, undermine the rule of law and erode the system of governance particularly the principle of the mechanism of checks and balances," he said in a speech at the Manila Hotel.

Corona's speech at the women judges' convention is his latest public appearance since his impeachment trial started last January. Last week, he made several media interviews to disprove allegations that he committed culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayed public trust.

In his speech, Corona reminded women judges that the task of maintaining the respect of the people in Constitutionalism and the rule of law is a responsibility shared by all 3 branches of government.

However, he said the judiciary's independence is being undermined by "transient powerholders of the government."

"We are fighting for judicial independence, to shield the judiciary from improper influence and pressure from any grave abuse of discretion committed by any unit or agency of the Philippine government," he said.

He added: "The judiciary must be insulated from political pressures, popularity surveys, lobbyists, private partisan interests, undue influence or outright coercion from the executive or legislative departments who are advancing their own shared mutual sociopolitical and economic interests."

The Chief Justice said that while the executive and legislative department are constitutionally mandated with certain reasonable authorities and privileges that guarantee their balance of power with the judiciary, "the Philippine Constitution did not leave to the whimsical discretion of the transitory political power holders the implementation and preservation of judicial independence."