SOUTHERN COMFORT: Corona impeachment trial: Will the defense self-destruct?

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/23 January) — A week into the trial of impeached Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona, the defense said it will file a motion to inhibit Senator-Judge Franklin Drilon, whom
it has publicly accused of being biased towards the prosecution, from participating in only the second impeachment case to reach trial in the Senate.

In the week where it suffered several legal setbacks to include the denial for preliminary investigation, motion to dismiss and failure to prevent the prosecution from presenting as evidences several titles of properties owned by the chief justice and his family, the defense is now laying the groundwork to convince the public that it is not going to get a fair trial unless senator-judges are confined and limited to hearing both sides of the panels.

The defense knows fully well that it cannot hope to prohibit a senator sitting as judge in an impeachment trial and abdicate his or her called sworn duty as embodied in the Constitution. It, too, knows very well that the rules of the impeachment court are a unique set and exclusive to the Senate and by submitting to the jurisdiction of the Senate sitting as an impeachment court, the defense cannot prevent senator-judges from questioning the witnesses and both the defense and prosecution panels because these are precisely provided in the rules.

Like already pointed out by legal minds in the land, the impeachment trial is governed neither by criminal nor civil rules and procedures. It is also much more not an administrative proceeding. The impeachment trial is a political process exercised by the supreme body politic. The impeachment court will rule not on the bases of guilt beyond reasonable doubt or mere preponderance of evidence.

The senator sitting as judges will rule on their personal convictions whether or not an impeachable official, of which only a handful is covered by impeachment, is worthy of public trust or possesses the moral authority and ascendancy to remain in office.

Before we get lost in these legalese jargons, we should point out that what should prevail in the Corona impeachment trial is not what should be allowed to be presented and which should be barred from being known to the public. It is the right of the public to know the truth. And it is the duty of the senate impeachment court to ferret out the truth
behind Corona’s impeachment.

If the act or acts of a senator sitting as judge will not sit well against the will of the people, a senator sitting as judge in an impeachment court ultimately is only answerable to the people. An accusation of perceived bias thrown against him by the defense is a shallow ground for his inhibition. Conventional wisdom dictates that the defense exercise prudence in seeking the prohibition of a senator who it perceive as favoring the prosecution.

The act of confronting and antagonizing a senator-judge could boomerang and could lead to the self-destruction of the defense. (Edwin G. Espejo writes for www.asiancorrespondent.com)

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