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Lacson blames ‘fast break’ mode for prosecutors’ woes

Senator Panfilo Lacson INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

Senator Panfilo Lacson on Wednesday blamed the “fast break” mode the prosecutors used in crafting the impeachment complaint for the heckling they were getting from the Senate tribunal.

“If the prosecutors chose the mode where the complaint had to undergo committee hearings before approval, they could have scrutinized the evidence against the Chief Justice better.  But as it is, the complaint did not undergo preliminary investigation,” observed Lacson, a former director general of the Philippine National Police.

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“Because of their fast break, the prosecutors easily got more than one-third of the House and the complaint was immediately transmitted to the Senate. So now, the prosecution commits a lot of fumbles and prosecutors are receiving lectures from senator-judges, especially the presiding officer,” he added.

Raised expectations

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It did not help that prosecutors raised public expectation by bandying their supposed evidence like proof that Corona owned a posh penthouse in Taguig City weeks before his impeachment trial began on January 16.

“In so doing, they raised the bar of expectation of senator-judges and the public. The prosecutors claimed 45 properties but they could not even come up with 40 or 30. They claimed to have 100 witnesses but how many have they presented so far? That’s the trouble when you raise expectations. That would have an impact for sure,” Lacson said in an ambush interview.

A day after Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile disallowed the testimony of Philippine Airlines vice president Enrique Javier, Senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada warned prosecutors they should brace themselves for “more admonitions” if they would insist on their current work ethic.

“The fact that no one stood up to question the Senate President’s ruling against the PAL witness meant everyone agreed with it.  Besides, one of the prosecutors—Ilocos Norte Representative Rodolfo Fariñas—admitted in open court that the impeachment complaint is defective,” Estrada said.

Wasting time

“If the complaint was defective, then they should have dismissed it at the onset,” said House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II. “So we’re just wasting time here; if they have that view—that it is defective—then we’re just having a farce trial here.”

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“Of course, I feel bad—no question about it, all of us,” Speaker Feliciano Belmonte told reporters.

“Yes we are really hurt by the type of language used (at) our prosecutors, but we will continue to pursue the case and we’re not going to make a big thing out of it knowing the situation is—they are the judges,” he said.

“Although I’m unhappy about it, we have to ride it out, although senators and congressmen are equals,” Belmonte added.

The Speaker said that the House panel would proceed to prosecute Corona on other articles cited by the House in seeking to remove the Chief Justice.

“I think under the rules we are not the guys who can ask for a reconsideration, I don’t know if there’s any move among the senators—it’s up to them,” Belmonte said.

“Now, they have said that (the testimony) won’t be allowed, and we’re unhappy about that. Article 3 is there, it’s a solid thing,” the Speaker said, pointing to the numerous free trips enjoyed by the Corona couple here and abroad using the platinum card in violation of the code of conduct governing jurists.

Parliamentary courtesy

Gonzales said the House was not dictating on senator-judges.

“That’s far from our mind. Even in our debates, we agree to disagree, but we have to maintain some modicum of respect. That’s our only call,” Gonzales said, appealing to the Senate to treat House members with due courtesy.

“What parliamentary courtesy? What do they want? We are in a trial. They’re here as trial lawyers. I do not know what they are talking about,” Enrile told reporters.

“Here we are trying a person to deprive him of his honor and dignity, and for a lifetime demonize him and totally destroy his life. Are they taking this lightly and cavalierly?”

Enrile said that if the prosecutors felt offended by the lecturing they were getting from senator-judges, they should say so. With reports from Norman Bordadora, Marlon Ramos and Leila B. Salaverria

Originally posted at 05:13 pm | Wednesday, February 22,  2012

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TAGS: Benigno Aquino III, Corona Impeachment, government and politics, Graft and Corruption, impeachment trial, Judiciary, law and justice, Panfilo Lacson, Politics, Renato Corona, Senate, Supreme Court
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