Aquino won't stop attacks on Corona

BALER, Aurora - President Benigno Aquino III is not about to declare a ceasefire in his word war with impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona despite pleas from senators for the heads of two coequal branches of government to restrain themselves.

Mr. Aquino on Sunday stepped up his attacks on Corona as Senator Edgardo Angara, one of the judges in Corona's impeachment trial, sat a few meters away.

The President said his verbal attacks were not directed at the Chief Justice but at "the system" for which Corona was "the face" that the administration was fighting against.

"To keep quiet about the whole thing is, I think, wrong," he told reporters in response to calls by some senator-judges for him and Corona to stop their word war and to just let the Senate impeachment court do its job.

Attending the 33rd founding anniversary of the province and the commemoration of the 124th birth anniversary of Doña Aurora Aragon-Quezon, the President said he would continue to voice out his thoughts on Corona "if needed."

He led the wreath-laying rites on the statue of Doña Aurora and later inaugurated Aurora Medical Hospital.

Senator Angara thanked Mr. Aquino for accepting the invitation to attend the celebrations. "We remember acts of kindness and gratitude. We will never forget this," he told the President during a program held on the capitol grounds.

On Thursday, at a meeting with students from various colleges and universities at La Consolacion College in Manila, Mr. Aquino said Corona's failure to declare his multimillion-peso bank accounts was sufficient basis to remove him from office.

The President said Corona should be held to account using the same standards that caused a court interpreter to lose her job in 1997 for not declaring ownership of a stall in a public market.

Responding to Mr. Aquino's attacks, Corona challenged the President to disclose his financial and psychological records.

"We have an obligation to the people that we are of sound mind," the Chief Justice said in a statement.

Punish offenders

In a speech here, Mr. Aquino said his mandate was to provide the people with a government that places priority on justice and accountability.

This meant that those who committed offenses must be punished and those who did good things should be rewarded, he said.

"This is what triggered the trial in the Senate of Renato Corona," Mr. Aquino said in Filipino.

The President told Aurora residents that they must be proud of Baler Representative Juan Edgardo "Sonny" Angara, a son of the senator and one of the deputy spokespersons of the House prosecution panel in the impeachment trial "for clarifying issues."

Mr. Aquino said he had faith in the "fairness" of Senator Angara and the "entire Senate."

The impeachment trial, the President said, had a "simple" aim-to come up with the truth as "the key to establishing a society where the people are accountable."

Simple arithmetic

"How can we have confidence that every centavo of our taxes will go to good use if you have a member in government who doesn't understand simple arithmetic?" he said, referring to the Chief Justice and the discrepancies in Corona's statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALNs) found during the trial.

Taking note of the statement of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, the presiding judge in the trial, that a SALN was one's "personal balance sheet," Mr. Aquino said: "What you have sworn (into your SALN) is what you really own."

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