MANILA, Philippines – The prosecution said they felt like they were struck by lightning when Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile disallowed an official of the Philippine Airlines from testifying on the alleged perks given to Chief Justice Renato Corona via a “Platinum card”.
Marikina Representative Romero Quimbo said in a press briefing after Tuesday’s proceedings that “the decision on the PAL ‘Platinum Card’ struck us like lighting today that in effect cascaded down to the two other witnesses aside from the PAL Vice-President.”
Enrile disallowed Enrique Javier, PAL vice president for sales, from testifying against Corona of on bribery allegations because they were not included in Article 3 of the Articles of Impeachment.
Article 3 alleges that Corona had lost the “competence, integrity, probity, and independence” because he acted on mere letters that caused “flip-flopping of decisions in final and executory cases.”
“We are saddened by the presiding officer’s ruling but we did our best to argue as hard as we could… [because] the witness will prove why [Corona] flip-flopped and acted on a case because of a mere letter from Attorney [Estelito] Mendoza,” lead prosecutor Niel Tupas Jr. said.
Lead prosecutor Iloilo Representative Niel Tupas Jr., on Tuesday said that Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile’s move to disallow the testimony of Philippine Airlines vice president for sales Enrique Javier saddened the prosecution team but that they were confident that the seven other articles would be able to stand on their own.
Tupas said that, left with no other recourse, they “just offered the excluded evidence”, admitting that although the articles of impeachment was “not perfect… it was crafted by 188 [representatives].”
He also maintained that they were confident that they have proved Article 2 but would continue presenting Article 3 on Wednesday.
In the case of the Flight Attendants’ and Stewards’ Association of the Philippines (FASAP) against PAL, the prosecution alleged that it was because Corona received the Platinum card, issued by PAL management, that he acted to have the case reopened when its decision favoring FASAP was supposed to be final.
“The testimony was purely intended to show the reason or the motivation or the inducement that led the chief justice to act in a manner that compromised his integrity, probity, and independence,” Quimbo said.
The prosecution said that the Platinum Card allowed Corona and his wife to travel anywhere in the world, throughout the year, in the highest class possible, with baggage allowance of up to four and weighing 23 kilos each. The card also allowed applicable taxes and fees and other surcharges to be waived courtesy of PAL, the prosecution said.
“The witness is very, very critical because [his testimony] goes to the motive on why the chief justice actually committed those acts he is accused of,” Quimbo said.
“We feel that the decision is absolutely unfair,” Quimbo said.
The prosecution said that they would not present or identify the two other witnesses related to the PAL case because they would fall under Enrile’s ruling.
Meanwhile, Tupas said he preferred that the impeachment case against Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo be heard by the after the Corona trial.
“By Monday nasa plenary na [ang kaso pero] my personal preference ay saka na akyatin, after na ng Corona trial, nasa 60 session days naman yan e, sana after na ng Corona trial.”