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Santiago lambasts prosecution panel again

Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago went through a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) procedure after suffering from high blood pressure in the impeachment trial on Thursday.

The good news is she’s fit to resume work as a judge in today’s (Monday) proceedings. The bad news is that House prosecutors and their private counsels, might be in for more scolding.

“There’s nothing wrong with my brain, contrary to the impression of my enemies,” Santiago said in an interview over radio dzBB, three days after her BP shot up to 180/90 and she had to leave the trial early.

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The former Regional Trial Court judge on Sunday lambasted prosecutors for complaining in media about her demeanor in the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona.

She was incensed after anchor Nimfa Ravelo played an audio clip of Rep. Neptali Gonzales II complaining in Filipino and English that Santiago was embarrassing the prosecutors on TV. “We both have constituents, we both are respected by people who voted for us,” Gonzales said.

Santiago lashed back in Filipino, saying senators and representatives were “no equals.” She also pointed out that only the Senate was tasked by the Constitution to try and decide impeachment cases.

“They’re just trying to look good (nagpapaguwapo) because of the next elections. They only have a year to campaign that’s why they are maximizing their TV exposure so the voters would know them,” she said.

Santiago also blasted House members for allegedly “saying things outside of the truth … just to be in the papers.”

“As much as possible, a congressman wants to be a senator that’s why they like issuing press releases so they would be known right away,” she said.

Santiago said the public should distinguish between her role as a judge in the impeachment court and her critics, who might be just after free publicity for the coming elections at her expense.

“He will use any means to be known in public because if he says something against me he could be lucky and land in the papers and and media for his scandalous remarks,” she said in Filipino.

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Like ‘drama kings’

The senator said she would not have lost her temper in the proceedings had not prosecutors acted like “drama kings” and resorted to “sententious” statements and “dramatic introductions.”

“The House of Representatives should not lecture on the Senate on how the proceedings should be conducted. They know that,” she said, noting that only lawyers with no trial experience “have a lot to say” about the proceedings.

“Those with experience in trial, they know.”

Ilocos Norte Rodolfo Fariñas, a fiery debater, showed his frustration at the prosecution’s refusal to hit back at the “unfair” attacks on the senators by walking out of the session hall on Thursday.

Although Rep. Niel Tupas, chief prosecutor, has announced that Fariñas would be designated as his deputy, Fariñas has not confirmed whether he accepted the post or not.

The prosecution also denied that Villaraza Cruz Marcelo & Angangco law office (CVCLAW), or “The Firm,” a law firm founded by Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, had been helping the team with former Estrada impeachment prosecutor Dennis Villa-Ignacio attending the trial.

“The prosecution has no plans of changing the composition of its panel. Intriga lang ‘yan (It’s just intrigue),” Tupas said. “We are satisfied with the way things are going for us for the first two weeks.”

Not quitting

Tupas rejected suggestion that he, too, should be replaced after getting a tongue-lashing from Santiago.

“That’s not correct,” he quipped when informed by the Inquirer of the public perception that his group was not really prepared to take out Corona. “Probably there were some confusion or miscommunication at the start of the trial.”

Santiago laughed when asked about the prosecution’s plan to present around 100 witnesses against Corona.

“As a former judge, I’m already laughing because if you present them to an ordinary judge, he might pass out already,” she said. “Witnesses should be weighed, not numbered.” With reports from Gil C. Cabacungan and Cynthia D. Balana

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TAGS: chief justice, Chief Justice Renato Corona, Corona Impeachment, Corona impeachment trial, House of Representatives, House prosecutors, impeachment trial, Judiciary, Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Philippines, Renato Corona, Senate impeachment court, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, senator-judges, senators, Supreme Court
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