Manila: Philippine President Benigno Aquino met and thanked some 188 congressmen who signed the impeachment complaint against Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona, adding it was time for the latter to clear himself.

"Face the people — the source of your post," Aquino advised the chief justice during a caucus with his political allies.

The caucus was Aquino's way of thanking them for supporting his government, said Transportation and Communications Secretary Manuel Roxas.

The lawmakers said they attended the event of their own volition.

Malabon City Representative Tobias ‘Toby' Tiangco however, resigned as a member of the majority bloc, saying it was in protest to the way his colleagues were coerced to sign "without having read the articles of impeachment against Corona".

"If Aquino succeeds in impeaching or pressuring Corona to resign, the justice department will issue a watchlist order on all the justices who agreed with rulings that the president did not like. He is acting as if there is no Constitution to follow," Senator Joker Arroyo, a close ally of Aquino's mother, former president Corazon Aquino, said. "He is more of a dictator than former dictator Ferdinand Marcos."

‘Constitutional crisis'

Supreme Court Administrator Midas Marquez said what happened to Corona was "faster than lightning", adding that Corona's impeachment constituted a "constitutional crisis" with the apparent alliance of the legislative and the executive branches of government.

Under the Aquino administration, "nothing seems impossible", Marquez said.

A group of judges also likened Aquino to German dictator Adolf Hitler for what happened to Corona.

In response, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima denied allegations of critics that the elevation of the impeachment complaint against Corona to the Senate was railroaded and done with promises of immediate release of pork barrel to congressmen.

After the transmission of the impeachment complaint to the Senate yesterday morning, Senate Secretary Emma Reyes said it was referred to the Committee on Rules, led by Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto.

Senator Francis Escudero said that Corona will be given 10 days to respond to the impeachment complaint, adding that the Senate will convene as an impeachment court with the senators acting as judges, next year. Both houses of Congress will take a break for the holiday season tomorrow.

A majority of the eight impeachment complaints filed against Corona were related to his alleged alliance with former President Gloria Arroyo. Before he was named chief justice, Corona was Arroyo's executive secretary and legal counsel.