Senators perceptive enough to weigh whether evidence is admissible or not
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, presiding officer of the impeachment court, asked during the Jan. 24 hearing, how and in what way he should be liberal, and if he should allow leading questions, hearsay evidence, etc. He raised the point when lead prosecutor Rep. Niel Tupaz Jr. appealed for the liberal application of the rules on evidence.
It now seems to be the consensus that the impeachment court is sui generis, quasi-judicial and quasi-political in nature, and that the Rules of Court in regard to criminal cases may not be completely applicable there.
To determine the truth, it is proper for the court to hear such testimony and admit such documents, as “it may deem essential and conducive to the ends of justice.” (Senate Resolution No. 39 Adopting the Rules of Procedure on Impeachment Trials, Par. V)
Applying the Rules on Evidence in criminal cases liberally in an impeachment case may mean that all testimonies and documents “essential and conducive to the ends of justice” shall form part of the record and available for the consideration of the senator-judges during their deliberations, and not be forbidden and/or stricken off the record. Such objections together with the supporting arguments made under the rules in criminal case shall be noted and entered into the record of the proceedings.
The senator-judges are intelligent and experienced professionals. Some of them are lawyers and all are perceptive and analytical enough not to be misled by leading questions, hearsay evidence, etc.
It is up to the senator-judges to evaluate (meaning, “make allowance for bias or exaggeration,” or disregard if deserving of no weight, based on the objections and supporting arguments) all the testimony and documents on record.
The impeachment court is said to be supreme in its sphere. Let us have faith that the senator-judges will judge the defendant fairly, in light of such evidence as they find “conducive to the ends of justice,” according to their conscience and mindful of the judgment of history.
—ANTONIO A. AGUSTIN,