I am disappointed with Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile. As presiding officer of the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona, he did not allow a Philippine Airlines executive to testify to Corona’s acceptance of free tickets which he used in numerous travels abroad while PAL had pending cases before the Supreme Court. Enrile was supported in his decision by Miriam Defensor-Santiago who gave a long lecture with an imperious mien and appropriate pout, as if Enrile needed to be supported.
The impeachment trial, it has been said, is not really a trial but a search for truth to prove that Corona truly deserves, without an iota of doubt, to sit as Chief Justice. In the PAL case, the House prosecutors wanted to show, through the testimony of a PAL vice president, that the airline gave Corona a platinum courtesy card and that it was because of this privilege given to him that the Supreme Court reversed the already final decision favorable to the Flight Attendants and Stewards Association of the Philippines. But Enrile did not allow the PAL executive to testify because the perk was not specifically alleged in Article 3 of the impeachment complaint. Thus, the search for truth was prevented by a technicality, while defense counsel Serafin Cuevas smirked with elation.
The senators sitting as impeachment judges should be acting in behalf of the Filipino people. When legal technicalities are raised, they should nonetheless allow the truth to come out, not stifle it. They owe it to the people who voted them to office. Enrile and Santiago are lawyers par excellence. But they should not forget that they are answerable to the Filipino people.
—AMADO F. CABAERO,