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Trial cost, P3.5M; removing a chief justice, priceless

Quite literally, removing Renato Corona from office as Chief Justice came relatively cheap.

As of Saturday, the Senate had spent only around P3.5 million for the 44-day impeachment trial, according to Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III.

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Sotto said the final computation would not hit the P5-million budget the Senate had set aside for the trial of the country’s top judge.

“The expense was conservative considering the gravity of our responsibility,” Sotto told the Inquirer in a phone interview on Saturday.

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But the political cost of the trial was nothing compared to the expense, particularly for Corona, Sotto said.

Twenty of the 23 senators voted to convict Corona of culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust through untruthful disclosure of wealth.

Sotto, one the senators who found Corona guilty, said the impeachment court’s ruling more or less reflected the general public sentiment.

“I think it was reflective of the will of around 80 percent of the people,” said Sotto, who had cast what he called “conscience vote.”

Sotto belongs to the so-called macho bloc led by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile. The bloc includes Senators Gregorio Honasan and Jinggoy Estrada.

The Enrile group voted as a bloc to convict Corona.

Only Senators Joker Arroyo, Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Miriam Defensor-Santiago voted to acquit him.

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Sotto said he and the other senators who voted to remove Corona from office could live with their decision.

“We can sleep soundly at night,” he said.

The Senate had converted into a resolution Estrada’s privileged speech commending Enrile’s work as presiding officer of the impeachment court.

“I congratulate the Senate President not only for his legal acumen and gifted skill, knowledge and appreciation of the minute details of the law and judicial processes, but also the probity and impartiality in the handling of the most difficult episodes of the trial,” Estrada said in that speech.

“In this exercise, we have demonstrated to our people and to the international community that we uphold the majesty and dignity of the principles of justice, the rule of law, and of the Constitution,” he said.

Estrada added: “This trial is now a testimony to our common and collective desire to uphold the law and dispense justice wherever it may fall.”

First posted 1:36 am | Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

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TAGS: Corona Impeachment, Corona impeachment trial, Renato Corona, Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, Senate of the Philippines, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile
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