Enrile says ‘defective articles of impeachment prosecution’s responsibility’
MANILA, Philippines – Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile gave a dressing down to the prosecution Tuesday over its “defective articles of impeachment” against Chief Justice Renato Corona at the resumption of his impeachment trial.
“If your articles of impeachment are defective, that is your responsibility,” said Enrile who disallowed the testimony of Enrique Javier, vice president for sales of the Philippine Airlines (PAL), a prosecution witness who was supposed to have testified on the perks allegedly being received by Corona and his wife from the airlines while the Supreme Court is deliberating on PAL labor dispute.
Enrile said Javier was irrelevant to Article 3 of the Articles of Impeachment, which alleged that Corona “committed culpable violations of the Constitution and betrayed the public trust by failing to meet and observe the stringent standards under Article VIII Section 7(3) of the Constitution that provides that ‘a member of the Judiciary must be a person of proven competence, integrity, probity and independence in allowing the Supreme Court to act on mere letter filed by a counsel which caused the issuance of flip-flopping decisions in final and executory cases; in creating an excessive entanglement with Mrs. Arroyo through her appointment of his wife to office and in discussing with litigants regarding cases pending before the Supreme Court.”
“What is the relevancy of this witness to this charge?” Enrile asked.
Private Prosecutor Marlon Manuel, in his manifestation, noted that PAL Platinum Card A752 issued on December 2010 and expired on December, 2011 and owned by the Chief Justice was used four times:
Manila-Guam; Guam-Manila on April 20 and April 24, 2011;
Manila-Singapore; Singapore-Manila on April 15 2011 and April 19, 2011;
Manila-Honolulu and Honolulu-Manila on Dec. 25, 2010 and Dec. 30, 2011;
Manila-Hongkong and Hongkong-Manila on Dec. 18, 2010 and Dec. 21, 2010.
While Platinum Card A753 owned by Ma. Cristina Corona was used 12 times. He tried to read the benefits of a platinum card but Enrile said the document spoke for itself.
Retired Supreme Court Justice Serafin Cuevas, counsel for Corona, objected to the manifestation, saying it was not included in the Articles of Impeachment to which Enrile agreed.
“This evidence is nothing because it assumes something that is not established yet…With due respect to the members of the prosecution panel, this Presiding Chair has been very lenient. I tried to help you. But there is a limit to what this Presiding officer can do,” Enrile said after he refused appeals of the prosecution team.
“If your Articles of Impeachment is defective, that is your responsibility. You made an allegation, specific allegation charging respondent with lack of integrity, probity and so forth and so on and you stated the basis of your conclusion your statement that he does not have competence, integrity, probity is a conclusion of fact based on what you want to prove and now you are offering a stranger in paradise to prove an allegation that does not exist in Article 3. I consider this trash,” he added.
Enrile also refused the prosecution team’s bid to mark as part of their evidence the document brought by Mara Arcilla, BPI Ayala Branch Manager, who appeared for witness Leonora Dizon, who had given birth.
Enrile said the court would only allow the prosecution to mark the document as part of its evidence when the defense has offered it as their evidence.
Private Prosecutor Arthur Lim asked the defense team “May I be clarified that the defense will surely be present this when their turn comes.”
“Do we have any legal obligation to let you know?” Cuevas asked.
Enrile told the private prosecutor “Mr. Counsel, you are fishing for evidence. You did not subpoena this (witness and the document she has brought). This court will use its discretion to bring these documents here and the fact that you tried to adopt them for your own is a misrepresentation.”
Cuevas also requested the impeachment court to revisit its rules particularly the one where both the defense and the prosecution were prohibited from objecting to questions of senator-judges.
Enrile however said he could not immediately make a ruling on that but assured that “as much as possible we will try to accord the respondent a fair trial observing not only substantive but procedural due process.”
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