MANILA, Philippines – “I’m back at the Senate, and I’m ready to rumble!”
After her absence in the first week of the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago will be present on Tuesday, January 24.
Santiago faced the media in a press briefing at the Senate, hours before Day 5 of the impeachment trial commenced, but prior to that her official Facebook and Twitter accounts posted this statement: “Thanks to my colleagues for the Senate commendation on my ICC win. And thanks to all of you who sent me well-wishes and prayed for my health. I’m back in the Senate, and I’m ready to rumble! :)”
Santiago was elected as a judge for the International Criminal Court (ICC) last December.
In the briefing, the senator said she will ask for lists of witnesses from both sides, and said she does not favor “surprise” witnesses in the trial. She also commented that a pre-trial could have “short-circuited” the impeachment process, speeding it up.
The public “is not thrilled” watching the marking of documents, she added.
On the issue of the motions for a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the trial, Santiago said the Supreme Court has no authority over the impeachment court.
She also stressed that the impeachment trial is a quasi-criminal trial, meaning it is almost but not exactly a criminal proceeding. She said they impeachment court cannot give a sentence or punishment, but can only remove the person in question from his position, or just censure him.
Asked about the prosecution, she said they seemed to lack enthusiasm in their work, and that they needed to have an outline to speed up the process.
Latin ‘outdated,’ Filipino ‘OK’
She also commented on the use of Latin, saying it is “outdated,” and that she favored the use of Filipino during the trial to help the public understand what was happening.
She told the assembled journalists that she “suffered” from “terminal boredom” last week, when she was not part of the trial.
“I got down on my knees, said my act of contritioin, and almost shot myself,” commenting on how bored she was the week she wasn’t present at the trial.
She said she’d rather “go scubadiving in the Bermuda Triangle and get lost there,” but reiterated being a senator-judge in the trial is part of her duty as a senator, so she will attend starting week 2.
The senator also commented that the presence of media and other observers in the trial affected the process, with both sides, she observed, going “overboard.”
The senator also said that they are bound by evidence, and that they should base their judgment on it.
Santiago was absent during the first week of the impeachment trial, citing health reasons, particularly hypertension.
Senator Loren Legarda was also absent during the first week of trial, when she accompanied a close relative seeking treatment in the US. There is no word yet if she will be back this week. – Rappler.com