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Corona deserves hearing—Lagman

By: - Reporter / @cynchdbINQ
/ 06:35 PM December 31, 2011

House Minority Leader Edcel Lagman. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO/JOAN BONDOC

MANILA, Philippines—House Minority Leader Edcel Edcel Lagman on Saturday defended the call for a  preliminary hearing before the start of the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona.

This was not a dilatory tactic to delay the trial as prosecutors charge, he said.

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The representative from Albay said that a “verification” of the impeachment complaint was required by the Constitution and the rules on impeachment of the House of Representatives. Such a hearing, he said, should verify whether the 188 House members who signed the articles of impeachment had indeed read and understood the charges.

Marikina Rep. Romero Quimbo, spokesperson of the House prosecution panel, earlier expressed disappointment over the filing by Corona’s defense team of a motion for preliminary hearing with the Senate impeachment court.

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“It is disappointing that Chief Justice Corona and his defense team have resorted to legal technicalities to delay and derail the impeachment process,” Quimbo said.

Quimbo said this contradicted the earlier statements of Corona’s camp that they wanted the impeachment trial to proceed swiftly and without delay.

“I am surprised that they want the actual trial delayed. They have been harping that the impeachment complaint was weak. If they truly believed that, why then would they want the trial to be delayed? Is it possible that they are now using every means to prevent the trial from taking place? What are they scared of?” Quimbo said.

Should the Senate accede to Corona’s request for a preliminary hearing on his motion to dismiss, the trial would not be able to start immediately, he said.

Lagman, however, said that “prior determination of the legality and validity of the verification is not dilatory but necessary to place the horse before the cart,” a condition precedent to impeachment and trial.

If the validity of the verification is sustained by the Senate, then the impeachment trial must proceed, said Lagman.

However, if the verification is found to be flawed and “fatally defective,” then the Senate must dismiss the Articles of Impeachment and return the infirm complaint to the House for completion of the process. At least one-third of the representatives can then refile the same or the committee on justice can conduct impeachment proceedings if that number is not obtained, he said.

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Lagman said a valid verification would require the complainants to swear under oath that they “have read the contents” of the complaint, and that “the allegations therein are true of our own knowledge and belief on the basis of our reading and appreciation of the documents and other records pertinent thereto”.

“It is not sufficient that a third party explained to the complainants the contents of the complaint or showed to them a PowerPoint presentation. Personal reading and appreciation of the complaint is mandatory,” Lagman said.

Lagman said it was “physically impossible” for the 188 representatives to have read and understood the 57-page complaint in a couple of hours given the admission that only four hard copies were available at the caucus called for the affixing of the complainants’ signatures and no questions were entertained.

“Clearly, overkill can boomerang and inordinate alacrity can breach the rules,” Lagman said.

Zambales Rep. Mitos Magsaysay said Malacañang railroaded the impeachment complaint through the House after the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order on the hold departure order of the Department of Justice against former president and Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

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TAGS: Impeachment, Judiciary, Politics, Renato Corona, Supreme Court
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