Angaras divided on search for Corona replacement

BALER, Aurora – A member of the House of Representatives’ panel that prosecuted Chief Justice Renato Corona said the search for his replacement should be broader than the Supreme Court premises and the evaluation of the candidates’ qualification be open to the public.

Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara of the lone district of this province who acted as the panel’s spokesperson suggested on Thursday to open to the public the process of selecting the successor of ousted Chief Justice Renato Corona in line with the campaign for accountability and transparency of government officials.

But his father, Sen. Edgardo Angara, said he prefers somebody from the SC itself. “Preferably somebody from within if you ask me. But if the appointing power (referring to President Aquino) in his good judgment decides that an outsider should be appointed, I think we should respect his judgment,” he said.

He urged the administration to disprove Corona’s allegations that the impeachment was the President’s way of exacting vengeance upon him because of the adverse SC decision on the case of Hacienda Luisita.

“That’s exactly Corona’s opening statement when he appeared before the Senate impeachment court: that President Aquino is a vengeful President because of what happened to Hacienda Luisita. And it’s up to the President to disprove this,” he said.

At the height of the impeachment trial, Angara defied attempts by the prosecution to have him out of the hearing judges.

The defense filed the motion to inhibit Angara, mentioning among others the approval by the government of billion-peso projects in this his home province, which, they said, “could affect his partiality in favor of the Liberal Party of President Aquino.” It noted that Juan Edgardo is one of the spokespersons of the House prosecution panel.

The supposed projects included the P1.66-billion Baler-Casiguran Road and the P798.56-million bridge project in Barangay Umiray, Dingalan. “The scale and timing of these projects appear more as political favors and inducements, rather than just honest-to-goodness responses to development concerns,” the defense said.

The elder Angara was irked that the defense was insinuating the role of his son as prosecution spokesperson and the recent approval of the Baler-Casiguran Road were made in exchange for his vote to convict Corona.

“They are insinuating that my vote has already been bought,” he said. “And to demonstrate how malicious this insinuation is, they say in their concluding paragraph, ‘ The only way, you, Senator Angara, can redeem yourself is to vote for acquittal.’”

He said the Baler-Casiguran Road project was proposed three years ago, during the administration of former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, not during the time of President Aquino.

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