Former Chief Justice Renato Corona dies

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) – Former Chief Justice Renato Corona died of cardiac arrest early Friday morning (April 29). He was 67.

“At 1:48 am today, April 29, 2016, Chief Justice Corona succumbed to cardiac arrest. Please pray for the eternal repose of his soul as he joins his Creator,” the National Transformation Council (NTC) announced in a Facebook post.

Corona belongs to the NTC, a group that recently called for the resignation of President Benigno Aquino III following the bloody Mamasapano incident.

Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno has directed that the flags at the Supreme Court (SC) and all courts nationwide be flown at half-staff to mourn Corona's passing, the SC Public Information Office (PIO) said on Twitter.

The viewing of Corona's remains will start on Saturday (April 30) at the Heritage Park in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City, the SC PIO announced.

Francis Corona, the late chief justice's son, thanked all the people who have expressed sympathy to their family. "It gives me great comfort to know that dad is resting peacefully already with God and his parents," he said in a statement.

He said Corona's wake will start on Saturday from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. at the Chapel 6 of Heritage Park.

Who is Corona?

Corona is the 23rd chief justice of the Supreme Court, and is one of the youngest magistrates to ever be appointed as the chief of the highest tribunal.

He was appointed by former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on April 9, 2002 as the 150th member of the high court. He served as Arroyo’s chief presidential legal counsel, member of the cabinet, spokesman and acting executive secretary.

In the Supreme Court, Corona headed the oversight committee of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) and several other committees.

He was also chairman of both the Judicial and Bar Council and the Philippine Judicial Academy.

Prior to his death, Corona faced an impeachment and several tax evasion cases.

In 2012, the Senate, sitting as an impeachment court, convicted Corona for misdeclarations in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN).

Corona and his wife, Cristina, are facing a P130.6 million forfeiture case before the second division of the Sandiganbayan.

Under Philippine law, death ends a person’s criminal and civil liability. These are extinguished when the death of the offender occurs before the judgment on the case, Article 89 of the Revised Penal Code states.

Condolences pour in

The Office of the President on Friday expressed its condolences to the Corona family.

“We extend our condolences to the bereaved family of the late CJ Renato Corona and join them in fervent prayers for his eternal repose," Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said in a statement.

Atty. Rico Quicho, one of Corona’s lawyers and spokespersons during his impeachment trial, said he is “deeply saddened” by his former client’s death.

He called Corona a “good man, loving husband and father.”

He also thanked Corona for the trust he gave him “during his challenging times.”

“CJ Corona fought a good fight to uphold the independence of the institution he dearly loved. His moral courage is second to none,” Quicho said.