MANILA, FEBRUARY 23, 2012 (INQUIRER) (PHOTO - ANTIGRAFT WORKSHOP President Aquino presides over a Cabinet workshop on anticorruption strategies with (from left) Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, professor Robert Klitgaard and Edilberto de Jesus of the Asian Institute of Management held at Heroes Hall in Malacañang on Tuesday. EDWIN BACASMAS)

Saying the justice system was a “major battleground for reform,” President Benigno Aquino III on Wednesday gave another speech that could be seen as pushing for the removal of impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona.

Opening an antigraft workshop for Cabinet officials in Malacañang, Mr. Aquino said his administration’s graft-busting efforts would be “rendered a mockery if certain elements are still able to prevent Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, for example, from being held accountable.”

“We cannot sustainably fight corruption unless we reintroduce a sense of accountability—a sense that, if you commit a crime, you will be punished,” he said.

“If certain elements are still able to prevent Gloria Arroyo, for example, from being held accountable then it makes a mockery of our anticorruption efforts.”

The President’s allies in the House of Representatives impeached Corona in December after the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order on the government’s travel ban against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, because the government had not yet filed a formal case of electoral sabotage against Arroyo.


She was later formally charged before the Pasay City regional trial court.

But the President said he believed the government’s case would have been irreparably compromised if Arroyo had managed to leave the country on account of the Supreme Court TRO.

“We want our judiciary to dispense justice blindly, as it should. And perhaps this explains our fight to restore integrity to the judiciary, which has made headlines everywhere,” Mr. Aquino said in his speech.

No doubt

“No one should doubt our justice system is a major battleground for reform,” he added.

The President said that while the country had made progress in fighting corruption, the 2012 Index of Economic Freedom released by the Heritage Foundation showed the problem of judicial inefficiency and susceptibility to outside pressures “remain a serious concern.”

“We want to send a stern yet simple message: No one evades justice. There are no exceptions in our campaign against corruption,” Mr. Aquino said. Norman Bordadora

Palace keeps in touch with INC, Catholic Church By Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News Posted at 02/22/2012 5:05 PM | Updated as of 02/22/2012 5:05 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda on Wednesday said the Palace has "been in touch" with both the Iglesia ni Cristo and the Catholic Church.

Lacierda did not specify which Palace officials have been meeting with the INC and the Catholic Church and what specifically are the topics being discussed.

He said the Palace is "not bothered" by the bible exposition to be held by the INC on February 28, adding that it is a religious activity.

He also said Malacañang is not involved in a newspaper ad discussing the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona. The ad is said to have been put out by the Black and White Movement.

"Removing all technicalities, all arguments, this is what we have uncovered so far and I think this is informing the public to be engaged and to know what's going on in the impeachment trial," Lacierda said.

The President's spokesman earlier said Malacañang is open to discussing with the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and INC “the merits" of the Corona impeachment trial.

Lacierda said there is no reason to stop the impeachment trial following a report that Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles has reservations why the impeachment trial is continuing.

“It may not be a Biblical solution to his perspective but it is a Constitutional solution when it comes to impeaching or removing government officials,” he said.

He said he was expecting Arguelles and retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz to bat for the presentation of Corona’s alleged bank accounts, saying this is part of the search for truth.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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