COMMENTARY: The Philippine Impeachment Trial: Corona’s Rubicon

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/14 May) – The impeachment trial of Philippine Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona resumes in the afternoon today with his defense counsels taking the biggest gamble yet in the four-month-old high political drama by calling hostile witnesses in a dramatic dash to the finish line.

Repeatedly scored by Presiding Judge Juan Ponce Enrile for “cluttering” the trial by presenting “immaterial and irrelevant” witnesses, the defense panel dropped the bombshell last week by offering its client in the witness stand in exchange for the appearances of several personalities in connection with Corona’s alleged dollar account or accounts.

Ironically, one of them might just be the kind of witness that will open a Pandora’s Box on how the Chief Justice is presiding over the country’s High Magistrate. One who knows the tightly guarded inner workings of the Supreme Court. One who could have in her possession details of his foreign currency deposits. One who is his nemesis.

Corona and his wife must also feel so alone with relatives of his spouse coming out in the open to further reveal the character of the Chief Justice. While the family feud over the Basa-Guidote property and corporation is not included in any of the articles of impeachment, it has become a telling and damning sidebar of the Corona trial.

Corona and his lawyers must have seen the futility of weaving a story for his defense without the accused himself offering his direct testimony.

They could and should have already presented their best evidences to refute all charges against the Chief Justice after a break of over a month. But with the patience of the senator-judges growing very thin every time the defense presents witnesses that only prove the existence of these and those documents that otherwise can be had through judicial notice, even former Supreme Court Justice Serafin Cuevas now admits that only Corona can save himself.

By agreeing to testify and defend himself before the Senate Impeachment Court, Corona has crossed his Rubicon.

And he might as well just being candid when his lawyers said he will drag President Benigno Aquino III to wherever his trial will eventually end up. Corona has repeatedly claimed the President was behind the move to impeach him and hope that the potential hostile witnesses he asked the Impeachment Court to be subpoenaed will buttress his defense theory. If that is the case, Corona is no longer as interested in defending himself as to bringing down with him the Aquino government. If not now, at least in the future. (Edwin G. Espejo writes for