MANILA, Philippines – They are at it again.
Despite persistent objections raised by the defense team and being reprimanded by the senator-judges at the impeachment trial, the prosecution panel does not seem to pause from releasing to the public pieces of evidence against Chief Justice Renato Corona.
On Sunday, January 29, the prosecution panel said it will try to prove that Corona, along with his wife, Cristina, could be guilty of conflict of interest since they “accepted special privileges from Philippine Airlines (PAL)” in spite of cases pending before the Supreme Court involving the country’s flag carrier.
The panel said travel records of the Corona couple, along with witnesses and other documentary evidence, will pin down the chief magistrate over allegations contained in Article 3 of the impeachment complaint.
Article 3 accuses Corona of culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust for his “failure to meet and observe the stringent standards of the Constitution that a member of the judiciary must be a person of proven competence, integrity, probity and independence in allowing the Supreme Court to act on mere letters filed by a counsel which caused the issuance of flip-flopping decisions in final and executory cases,” among others.
The highlight of Article 3 focuses on an October 2011 ruling by the high court which recalled its earlier decision on the illegal retrenchment case filed by the Flight Attendants and Stewards Association of the Philippines (FASAP) against PAL, allegedly acting on a letter from the airline company’s lawyer Estelito Mendoza.
Representatives from the Bureau of Immigration (BI), PAL, Supreme Court, Securities and Exchange Commission and a travel agency that’s closely identified with Mendoza will be called to testify for the prosecution.
Records from the SEC showed that the SC has been a frequent client of the Prestige Travel Agency, supposedly owned by the family of Mendoza.
When asked to comment on the latest media release of the House prosecutors, defense team spokesman Ramon Esguerra refused, saying, “it’s not yet accepted as evidence” in the impeachment court.
“Here they go again,” Esguerra told ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC) on its Sunday noontime newscast. “Unless these evidence are presented to the 4 walls of the Senate conducting the impeachment trial, we cannot comment on speculations being fed to the media.”
During last week’s hearing, a number of senator-judges have admonished both the prosecution and the defense panels for prematurely releasing evidence related the case through the media.
“We have been criticizing them for being foul, for resorting to trial by publicity,” Esguerra told ANC.
Meanwhile, the defense panel will no longer contest the impeachment court’s decision “not to act” on their petition for senator-judge Franklin Drilon to inhibit from hearing the complaints.
Esguerra said they will abide by Senate presiding officer Juan Ponce Enrile’s pronouncement that the court cannot force Drilon to be barred from the case over perceived “biases”. Drilon said on Friday, the same day the defense petition was filed, that he will continue to sit among the judges in the case.
“It’s fine with us,” Esguerra said. “We will respect his (Drilon) decision, as well as the Senate President’s.”
The impeachment trial resumes on Monday, January 30. – Rappler.com