After a sober exchange of arguments on procedural issues surrounding the impeachment trial of Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona, the Senate decided to postpone the presentation of evidence by the prosecution.
In today’s proceedings, which took less than two hours, the Senate dwelt on the motions filed by both camps.
At the resumption of the trial, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile denied the motion filed by Corona’s lawyers to summon House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte and other legislators to explain the circumstances behind the impeachment vote.
Enrile said the matter had become moot and academic since the Senate has ruled that the impeachment complaint is valid and in accordance with the Constitution.
He also denied the motion of the defense to disallow private prosecutors from participating in the trial.
Enrile, however, ruled against the request of the prosecution to subpoena Corona, his wife Cristina and children and to produce certain documents, citing the right of respondent against self-incrimination.
But Senator Alan Peter Cayetano disagreed in part with Enrile’s ruling and appealed for reconsideration.
“I agree with the ruling in so far as the Chief of Justice is concerned but as to the wife, the children and the son-in-law, may I put on record my reservation,” Cayetano said, adding some properties cited by the prosecution were allegedly in the names of Corona’s wife and children.
Cayetano’s stand forced the senators to vote on Enrile’s ruling. Fourteen senators voted to uphold the ruling while only six voted against it.
When Enrile finally said that the presentation of evidence may start, the process was stalled after the defense objected to the plan of the prosecution to begin presenting evidence on the second of the eight articles of impeachment.
Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. argued that the order of presentation of evidence is discretionary on the part of the prosecution.
Former Associate Justice Serafin Cuevas, Corona’s lead counsel, countered they were not prepared for Article 2 because they thought the prosecution was going to present evidence and witnesses based on the arrangement of the articles of impeachment in the complaint.
Article 2 deals with Corona’s alleged ill-gotten wealth.
Barzaga said they would only present computer-generated documents on Corona’s alleged properties coming from the Land Registration Authority.
Enrile cautioned the prosecution that documents submitted to the court have to be authenticated to be admissible as evidence.
Senator Joker Arroyo broke the impasse by suggesting to the prosecution to rearrange the articles of impeachment. (MindaNews)