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Philippines chief justice found guilty in impeachment trial

The Senate of the Philippines [official website] on Tuesday voted to remove Chief Justice Renato Corona [official profile] on charges of violating the constitution through failure to declare his assets in a sworn statement. Renato was impeached on eight charges [JURIST report], but only one issue was brought to a vote. The most high profile of the allegations included a charge of partiality in the trial of former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo [BBC profile; JURIST news archive]. Arroyo is currently in prison facing charges of corruption and electoral fraud. It was alleged Corona granted temporary restraining order on the travel restriction of Arroyo without legal grounds in order to give her a chance to escape. The senate vote makes Corona the first public official to be removed by impeachment in the Philippines. Corona maintains that the charges against him were politically motivated [Reuters report] and will explore options of appeal.

Former president Arroyo has been a target of anti-corruption efforts by President Benigno Aquino [BBC profile]. Arroyo was arrested [JURIST report] in November in the hospital before she was able to leave the country to seek medical treatment. Corona presided over the court that voted to allow Arroyo to travel [JURIST report] to receive medical care, temporarily restraining the restrictions on Arroyo's travel in connection with several pending charges against her. Arroyo was president of the Philippines from 2001-2010. She left office after the Philippine Department of Justice (PDOJ) [official website] brought allegations of corruption against her. Arroyo was elected to the House of Representatives last year after the Philippine Supreme Court ruled her eligible to run [JURIST report], despite protests that she had an unfair advantage. In July 2010, Aquino signed an executive order [JURIST report] to set up a "truth commission" to investigate allegations that the outgoing administration engaged in corruption and rights violations.

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