Impeachment court extends afternoon trial hours | Inquirer News

Impeachment court extends afternoon trial hours

By: - Reporter / @KatyYam
/ 03:47 AM March 08, 2012

Participants in the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona on Wednesday agreed to extend the afternoon trial hours to “at least 7 p.m.” Mondays to Thursday so a verdict could be reached at the earliest possible time.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said many of the senators expressed a “desire … to hasten the completion of the trial.”

Normally, the Monday to Thursday trial begins at 2 p.m. and lasts until 5 or 6 p.m. since it began on January 16.


So far, the impeachment court has had 26 trial days, with the prosecution panel completing its presentation of witnesses on February 29.


Enrile initially thought of holding hearings in the morning starting next week but dropped the idea Wednesday and suggested extending proceedings in the afternoon after Corona’s lead counsel, Serafin Cuevas, balked at the prosecution’s proposal to finish the defense presentation by March 29.

Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III noted that under the proposal of Representative Niel Tupas Jr., the prosecution chief, the defense panel would only have 12 trial days.

Early return nixed

The other option was to start the resumption of the trial a week earlier before Congress resumes its sessions—a proposal that Sotto said was turned by the senators late Wednesday.

Congress plans to go on recess on March 23 and resume its sessions on May 7.

Sotto said Cuevas objected to the proposed schedule after noting that the 26-day trial run so far was dedicated to the prosecution’s presentation of evidence.


“Even senators who learned about it thought it was not fair. We should not limit the defense’s presentation of evidence,” Sotto said in an ambush interview after Enrile met with the defense and prosecution lawyers.

“The general sentiment was, if we do not finish the trial by that date anyway, why rearrange everyone’s schedule in the first place?  Even Representative (Rodolfo) Fariñas and Speaker (Feliciano) Belmonte frowned on the idea of starting earlier than May 7, because what was the point,” Sotto said.

“If we follow the approved legislative calendar and begin on May 7, we can surely finish before June.  The only peculiarity is that the defense’s presentation would be bitin (hanging).  It starts in March and resumes in May,” he added.

Cooling period

Enrile maintained that no new trial dates would be set once the Senate goes on its break.

“The whole of April will be a cooling period,” he said.

Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said one consideration among senators was the possibility that extended trial hours could take a toll on Enrile’s health.

“Unlike senator-judges who mostly listen and ask questions sometimes, the Senate President has to listen to everything and understand what goes on so he can make a ruling. He needs to give his full attention for the entire time that the court is in session. That is not a small requirement,” Marcos explained.

Enrile was touched at the concern except for one small thing.

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“How do they know that I’m listening,” he asked.

TAGS: Congress, Government, Judiciary, Politics, PSBank, Renato Corona, Senate, Supreme Court

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