Lumad peoples

Not all 100 will take witness stand

In the light of criticism, the prosecution back-pedals

DEFENDER. Prosecution spokesman Erin Tañada defends the 100+ witness list. Photo by Emil Sarmiento

MANILA, Philippines – The prosecution panel will not call to the witness stand everyone–more than 100 people named on the list of witnesses it submitted before the impeachment court on Friday, January 27.

“We listed all those names. But in the process of the trial, if the point has been established, maybe we can dispense with the calling of other witnesses,” said prosecution spokesperson Lorenzo Tañada III.

“It’s the discretion of the prosecution. Those are judgment calls that will be made during the trial of the articles,” he added.

He said the prosecutors liberally listed witnesses that could add weight to the evidence presented against Chief Justice Corona to prevent a future problem where witnesses are prevented to take the stand because they were not named in the list.

“We just wanted an exhaustive list so as not to leave anyone out. It’s easier to not present one of the 100 than it is to ask the permission of the impeachment court to present additional witnesses,” said Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara, also a prosecution spokesperson.

The prosecution panel has been criticized for the long list of witnesses that includes Supreme Court Justices and officials, government officials, and journalists.

Sen Francis Pangilinan said this could mean a prolonged trial, which is going to be bad for governance.

Rejection

There are 8 articles of impeachment. The prosecution is in the middle of presenting evidence for Article 2, the failure of the Chief Justice to declare his Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth.

Veteran journalist and Rappler editor-at-large Marites Dañguilan-Vitug is included in the list of witnesses. But she has rejected the prosecution request for her to testify at the impeachment trial. 

“Journalists are not the story. We tell the story. We merely chronicle our country’s comings and goings in the best way we can. This is how we serve the country,” Vitug said in her letter to lead prosecutor Niel Tupas Jr.

Vitug is the author of the bestselling book on the Supreme Court, “Shadow of Doubt.” It is controversial  for exposing corruption in the High Court. – Rappler.com

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