The Philippine House of Representatives impeached the Supreme Court chief justice Monday over corruption charges and bias, according to media reports.
The majority of the 284 House members signed a resolution to impeach Chief Justice Renato Corona, the first Supreme Court chief to be impeached in the country’s history, but not without a fight.
“Do not forget, I am here, I am not going anywhere. I am your defender and most of all I am your chief justice. Together we will face these challenges and fight all who dare to destroy the court and our system of justice under the Constitution,” the Philippine Star quoted Corona telling members of the judiciary.
A trial in the Senate is expected to start next year to determine if Corona needs to step down.
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Corona insisted he would not resign, saying efforts to illegally oust him would ruin the country’s democracy.
"We do not want to see a constitutional crisis befall our democracy," he said. "But if we are challenged to defend our independence, we shall not meekly walk away."
The House’s unprecedented move comes after a series of Supreme Court decisions that hampered the government’s efforts to prosecute former President Gloria Arroyo for alleged corruption charges, the AFP reported.
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The impeachment comes partly from allegations that the country’s top judge made judgments favoring Arroyo, who appointed Corona his position.
The Associated Press reported:
“The surprise move is the latest twist in the Philippine political drama pitting Arroyo against her popular, reformist successor Benigno Aquino III, who has blamed her for a decade of corruption scandals that eroded public trust in government and held back foreign investors.”
Arroyo has been accused of rigging elections, wasting state finances and a wide array of other corruption charges during her rule from 2001 to 2010.
Corona has also allegedly violated laws when he failed to publicly disclose all his wealth and properties.