Philippine Supreme Court chief justice impeached

December 12, 2011 - 8:45 AM

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippine House of Representatives impeached the Supreme Court chief justice Monday over alleged corruption and favoritism toward arrested ex-President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

A majority of the 284 members of the powerful House signed a resolution to impeach Chief Justice Renato Corona, who will now be tried by the Senate in an impeachment tribunal. Corona, who became the only known Supreme Court chief to be impeached in Philippine history, vowed to fight back.

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.

Aquino has been at odds with Corona, accusing him of being biased for Arroyo, who appointed the Supreme Court chief justice shortly before she stepped down last year at the end of her nine stormy years in power.

Aquino, son of revered democracy icons, succeeded Arroyo in June last year after a landslide elections victory largely credited to his illustrious name and campaign promise to battle corruption and poverty in his Southeast Asian nation. His allies now dominate the House, which used to be the bedrock of Arroyo's power.

Rep. Niel Tupas Jr., who heads the congressional justice committee, said Corona was impeached due to alleged acts of corruption and improperly issuing decisions that favored Arroyo.

Corona said efforts to illegally oust him would destroy the country's democracy.

"We do not want to see a constitutional crisis befall our democracy," Corona said. "But if we are challenged to defend our independence, we shall not meekly walk away."