(Updated) SPEAKING before the crowd gathered at the Supreme Court compound on Thursday during the necrological service for the late Chief Justice Renato Corona, Associate Justice Teresita de Castro made just one request for the late court official whom she described a "gentleman".
"I believe you are now at peace in the presence of the Lord, still praying for the independence of the judiciary for which you greatly endured, together with your family... One more request Chief: they say that those who have left us have a direct line with the Lord. Please add to your prayers Chief Justice, a plea that our countrymen may choose wisely in the coming elections," the magistrate said.
De Castro, who represented Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno in the SC's necrological service for the late court official, shared with the hundreds of people at the SC session hall the good things about Corona.
"He was an inspiring person to work with, soft spoken, gentle in his ways, dedicated to his work, always prepared and never absent despite persistent rumors that he was suffering from several health problems," De Castro said.
The magistrate said that even at the time when Corona was being maligned by accusations by ill-gotten wealth among others, the former Chief Magistrate remained a gentleman.
"He never spoke ill of anyone, he did not curse or show desperation even outside the public eye. Not once did he pressure or influence us to decide the case one way or another," the Magistrate said.
De Castro, who worked with Corona in the high court from 2007 to 2012 when she was appointed as Associate Justice, also shared in her eulogy the court's bitter experiences when Corona was impeached last 2012.
"We who look up to him and had a chance to work with him could not understand the turn of events that culminated in his impeachment and removal from his exalted position," De Castro said.
"The end was difficult to fathom but we accepted it with resignation, praying with deep faith that he alone knows what the future holds and what is best for us," she added.
Associate Justice Arturo Brion during his eulogy shared Corona's take when he was unseated from the highest position in the judiciary.
"He left us in 2012 with a lot of pain in his heart. He left in the worst possible way a justice could. He was bound with the worst accusation that could be hurled against a Chief Justice," Brion then said, "May malaki nga bang kasalanang nagawa si Rene?"
Brion believes that the government did not just impeach Corona but also attacked the judiciary's independence.
"It is the judiciary and its independence they dismissed, not Renato Corona," Brion said.
Associate Justice Bienvenido Reyes praised for Corona when he delivered his eulogy.
"The Chief Justice compelled professionalism. Chief Rene was a tyrant. A tyrant who is dearly loved by his lawyers; he transformed them to legal machines," he said.
Reyes said that for the Corona court, the former CJ was a beloved mentor who raised their level of excellence. He added that the CJ was able to unite them behind the constitution while striving for the independence of judiciary.
"He was a leader in a struggle to maintain the rule of law and the independence of judiciary," Reyes said.
Corona's remains will be brought back to Heritage Park at 7 a.m., Friday, for his interment.
Corona, the 23rd Chief Justice of the Philippines and 150th Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, succumbed to cardiac arrest last April 29 at the age of 67.
During his term as a Chief Justice, the SC ruled to distribute Hacienda Luisita, a sugar estate owned by President Benigno Aquino III's maternal relatives, to farmer-beneficiaries.
The ouster of Corona via impeachment had been attributed by his camp to this controversial decision. (Sunnex)