Continued from page 1

“We do not want to see a constitutional crisis befall our democracy,” Chief Justice Corona said, “but if we are challenged to defend our independence, we shall not meekly walk away.”

Chief Justice Corona stressed he would not resign.

Rep. Edcel Lagman, an Arroyo ally, accused the Aquino administration of coercing lawmakers to sign the impeachment complaint by threatening to block budgets for their provincial districts. The complaint, Mr. Lagman said, “is the mother of all blackmails.”

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said senators likely would tackle the impeachment complaint in January after a monthlong Christmas break starting Wednesday.