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MANILA, Philippines - If Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago would have her way, she would not allow any member of the Aquino Cabinet who testified against Renato Corona to become the successor of the ousted chief justice.
Santiago, who voted for Corona's acquittal, on Monday said that the public might think that an official from the Aquino administration testified against Corona because he or she was eyeing for his position.
“It’s not necessarily a disqualification to be a member of the Cabinet. But if they participated in the impeachment trial, it cannot be helped but raise doubts in the minds of the public that they were testifying so they can get rid of the incumbent and replace him," the senator said.
"I’m afraid they have disqualified themselves morally from that vantage point. I think that they should just inform the JBC (Judicial and Bar Council) that on their own volition they are not accepting the JBC nomination,” Santiago added.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, Bureau of Internal Revenue Kim Jacinto Henares, and Department of Justice Leila de Lima testified against Corona.
Carpio-Morales testified that Corona, based on data from the Anti-Money Laundering Council, maintained 82 dolla r accounts worth $12 million.
Henares testified that Corona understated his statement of assets, liabilities, and net worth from 2002 to 2010 or since he became a member of the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, De Lima testified that Corona tried to help former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo escape the country in 2011.
Nonetheless, Santiago defended President Benigno Aquino III's constitutional right to choose whoever he wants to become the next chief justice.
“As long as he follows the recommendation of the JBC, he can choose anyone he wants whether inside the Supreme Court or outside the Supreme Court,” she said.
"His hands are completely free as long as he chooses from the shortlist of the JBC,” Santiago added.