Former Chief Justice Renato Corona Passes Away at 67

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MANILA — Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Coronado Corona passed away due to heart attack at 1:47 a.m. on Friday, April 29. He was 67.

Corona is survived by his wife, the former Cristina Roco, and three children.

Corona succumbed to cardiac arrest at the Medical City in Pasig City.

The former chief justice had diabetes and undergone bypass surgery twice.

Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno “has directed that the flag in the SC and all courts nationwide be flown at half mast to mourn the passing of the former CJ,” the Supreme Court Public Information Office (PIO) said.

Born on Oct. 15, 1948, Corona graduated from the Ateneo de Manila in 1970 and obtained his doctor of civil laws degree from the University of Santo Tomas as summa cum laude and class valedictorian in 1982.

He was appointed by then President and now Pampanga (2nd District) Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as Chief Justice on Mayo 12, 2010, two days prior to the May 10, 2010 presidential elections.

Corona served as Chief Justice from May 17, 2010 to May 29, 2012.

He was the 23rd Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

Corona’s remains will be brought to the Heritage Park in Taguig where a public viewing will be held on Saturday.

Before his death, the ousted chief justice was diagnosed with diabetes, and had undergone heart bypass surgery twice.

Corona served the government in various capacities. He was in the Cabinet of two presidents, Fidel V. Ramos and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, before being appointed to the bench as the associate justice and, eventually, chief justice of the Supreme Court.

The former chief justice had a sterling record as a student. He graduated with honors from the Ateneo de Manila Grade School and High School. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the Ateneo de Manila University, where he also served as editor-in-chief of The Guidon, the university student publication.

Corona obtained his law degree from the Ateneo Law School in 1974. Having married right after college, Corona was working in the Office of the Executive Secretary while attending night classes in law school. He finished fifth in his class.

In 1982, Corona earned his Masters of Law degree from Harvard University, where he focused on foreign investment policies and the regulation of corporate and financial institutions.

As young lawyer, Corona was special counsel of the government-owned Development Bank of the Philippines. He later became senior vice-president and general counsel of the Commercial Bank of Manila and a senior officer in the tax and corporate counseling group of the tax division of SGV & Co.

Corona joined the Ramos administration in 1992 as assistant executive secretary for legal affairs. He was promoted to deputy executive secretary. Corona was then appointed as chief presidential legal counsel and member of the Cabinet.

When Ramos’ term ended, Corona joined the office of then Vice President Arroyo as her chief of staff. When Arroyo assumed the presidency, Corona served as presidential chief of staff, presidential spokesperson and acting executive secretary.

Corona was appointed to the High Court in 2002 as an associate justice. He was elevated to chief justice in 2010.

His appointment as chief justice was met with criticisms, having been made within two days after the 2010 presidential elections and a month before Arroyo’s term ends.

However, the Supreme Court, voting 9-1, upheld Arroyo’s right as incumbent president to appoint the chief justice, stating that the 90-day period for the president to fill the vacancy in the Supreme Court is a special provision to establish a definite mandate for the president as the appointing power, and that the election ban on appointments does not extend to the Supreme Court.

On December 12, 2011, the House of Representatives resolved to impeach Corona for failing to disclose certain bank deposits in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN).

On May 29, 2012, the Senate, voting 20-3, found Corona guilty of betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the Constitution for failing to disclose his wealth in his SALN as required under the Constitution. House prosecutors said Corona failed to disclose 98 percent of his cash assets in his SALNs.

As a result, he was removed from public office.

After the impeachment, Corona lived a life away from the public eye but still faced several charges.

Perjury and violations of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Stands for Public Employees were filed against him over alleged misdeclaration of property in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth.

Corona was also tried for violation of the National Internal Revenue Code for failure to file income tax return and alleged attempt to evade payment of taxes.

Despite his controversial life as a political appointee, Corona will be remembered as a jurist embracing the judicial philosophy centered on a commitment to uphold the Constitution and the law in order that the rights of every man, woman and child are protected and enhanced.

 

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