Quantcast

Analysis

100 witnesses a blackmail on Chief Justice

By

House prosecutors have threatened to swamp the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona with a tidal wave of witnesses in a desperate attempt to regain the momentum in their faltering offensive to convict him before public opinion.

In a demonstration of firepower, the prosecution team of the House of Representatives served notice that it would present more than 100 witnesses to prove its case, after seven days of getting bogged down in its bid to uncover evidence of “ill-gotten  wealth” in Corona’s statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN).

The prosecution submitted its list of witnesses and documentary evidence to the impeachment court on Friday after an impatient Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, a judge in the trial, demanded that the prosecution and defense identify their witnesses.

The prosecution list of witnesses includes a broad section in government and in civil society. Among them are 13 Supreme Court justices, Supreme Court Administrator Midas Marquez, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, doctors of former President and now Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and journalists.

The prosecution said it had 300 documents as evidence against Corona on the charge of betrayal of public trust, culpable violation of the Constitution, and graft and corruption.

The volume of the documents to be examined and the number of witnesses requested to be summoned raised concerns that this deluge would cause a logjam in the trial and extend the proceedings beyond February.

‘Wantonly prepared’

Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, the presiding judge in the trial, was so staggered by the work overload involved in presenting 100 witnesses that he exclaimed, “Oh, my God!”

Sen. Sergio Osmeña III estimated that it would take over a month to present 100 witnesses.

Another senator-judge, Joker Arroyo, a critic of the administration of President Benigno Aquino III, pointed out that the impeachment trial was an imposition on the legislative duties of the Senate and asked if the prosecution needed 100 witnesses to remove Corona from office.

“At the rate the trial is proceeding, it can’t be finished before the end of 2012,” Osmeña said.

The Senate has been devoting 25 percent of its plenary time on legislation—its principal duty—and 75 percent of its time on the trial, an “incidental” function.

Arroyo said the trial was hampered not because the House prosecutors were not good, because they are, but because the articles of impeachment “were wantonly prepared, and the root cause of all arguments.”

Havoc on the court

Opposition figures criticized the introduction of too many witnesses as an “expanded fishing expedition,” with the inclusion of Supreme Court justices on the list of witnesses.

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, recently minority leader, said calling the justices as witnesses would make them testify for or against the Chief Justice, wreaking havoc on the court.

Senator Arroyo was more concerned with the effort of the administration to mobilize the machinery and powers of the executive department to try and demolish Corona.

He blasted the administration for its “inordinate use of power” to dig dirt on Corona and completely vilify him before public opinion.

“We don’t want the public to think that the forces of government are being used to (persecute Corona),” Arroyo said.

The warning came after Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares testified last week on Corona’s income tax returns.

The concerns of Senator Arroyo appear to be shared by a growing number of people who have expressed alarm over the heavy-handed methods used by the administration.

Now, Corona appears to be the underdog in the administration’s drive to make officials of the previous Arroyo regime accountable for the scandals of corruption that rocked her nine-year presidency.

Body and soul

The explanation of the prosecution panel for swamping the tribunal with requests to serve summons on a large number of witnesses had an ominous ring.

Quezon Rep. Lorenzo Tañada III, a prosecution spokesperson, said his panel did not want to leave any stone unturned in supporting the eight articles of impeachment.

“We wanted to be thorough and put on a list all witnesses who could help in our search for the truth,”’ he said. He did not say whose testimony, among the 100 potential witnesses, would be the “truth.”

The requested subpoenas put the spotlight on the administration’s sadistic inclinations and punitive tactics, which appear to emphasize the total obliteration, body and soul, of the respondent.

This has involved a smear campaign and a barrage of derogatory material dumped in the mass media even ahead of the start of the impeachment trial on Jan. 16.

Even at this stage, there are already calls for Corona to resign, with threats that he would be subjected to further humiliation and personal degradation if he did not step down.

The threat of the testimony of the hundred witnesses is one such effort to blackmail him to throw in the towel. However, he has not succumbed to these threats and is not yielding to this blackmail.


Follow Us


Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


More from this Column:

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Short URL: http://opinion.inquirer.net/?p=22091

Tags: 100 witnesses , chief justice renato corona , Corona impeachment trial , Corona trail prosecution team



Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
Advertisement

News

  • Gloomy weather on Black Saturday–Pagasa
  • Mixed feelings for Gabriel Garcia Marquez in hometown
  • Korea ferry captain arrested, divers spot bodies
  • Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’–report
  • Pakistan library named ‘bin Laden,’ as memory fades
  • Sports

  • Duke’s Rodney Hood joining Jabari Parker in NBA draft
  • Phelps entered in 3 events at comeback meet
  • Boston prepares for huge wave of marathon visitors
  • Motivated LeBron James preps for postseason
  • Nadal ousted by Ferrer in Monte Carlo quarters
  • Lifestyle

  • Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87
  • Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • Entertainment

  • Myx TV premieres Asian American ‘docu-series’
  • A nutty finale for ‘Scandal,’ TV’s craziest show
  • EXO postpones release of mini album ‘Overdose’
  • ‘X-men’ filmmaker slams ‘fabricated’ sex attack claims
  • Singer Chris Brown’s bodyguard on trial in DC
  • Business

  • US commerce secretary spells out economic facet of ‘pivot to Asia’
  • Italy sells luxury state cars on eBay
  • Asian shares mostly up in quiet trade
  • Dollar up in Asia on US jobs data, Ukraine deal
  • Barbie doll has a problem
  • Technology

  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 17, 2014
  • A humbler Church
  • Deepest darkness
  • ‘Agnihotra’ for Earth’s health
  • It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others
  • Global Nation

  • OFW from UAE tests negative for MERS-Cov–health chief
  • Multicultural flock marks Good Friday in San Francisco
  • Las Vegas ‘Pinoy Pride’ fest hails Filipino heritage
  • Marking Jesus’ journey on Good Friday
  • Filipina accomplice arrested for fake bills in Malaysia
  • Marketplace