3 justices, solons among defense witnesses

Natashya Gutierrez
Defense witness list has roughly 25 names

MANILA, Philippines – Speaker Feliciano Belmonte and lead prosecutor Rep. Niel Tupas are among the witnesses the defense plans to present to the court to prove the innocence of Chief Justice Renato Corona.

The defense will call the 2 lawmakers, along with 3 other members of the House of Representatives, to testify for Article 1, on the issue of Corona’s alleged partiality to former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. They will be called on “their statements regarding the circumstances and events that transpired on Dec. 12, 2011, which led to the impeachment of CJ Corona.”

For Article 2, which the Senate is currently tackling, the defense plans to call 9 witnesses, including Supreme Court Clerk of Court Enriquetta Vidal, to testify that Corona has complied with the requirement and procedures of submitting his SALNs, and Marikina Rep. Miro Quimbo “to testify on the list of 25 properties submitted to the Prosecution by the Land Registration Authority.”

Supreme Court Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco will be presented for Article 7 to “answer complainants’ allegations based on Justice Sereno’s Dissenting Opinion,” while Justices Roberto Abad and Justice Arturo Brion will be called to support his testimony “with emphasis on the thorough deliberation by the SC en banc that led to the issuance of the assailed TRO.”

Court Administrator Midas Marquez will also be summoned for Article 6 and Article 7.

Article 6 alleges that Corona betrayed public trust when the SC chose to probe one of its own justices who was accused of plagiarism. On the other hand, Article 7 accuses Corona of partiality toward Mrs Arroyo when the SC issued a TRO that lifted the travel ban on her.

Along with the names submitted for testimonial evidence, the defense has also listed hundreds of documentary evidence that they will present.

The defense’s witness list has about 25 names over the course of the impeachment trial, and is a stark contrast to the list that the prosecution submitted Friday, January 27, that includes at least 96 witnesses.

Over the past few days, the defense has criticized the prosecution’s list, saying that the sheer number of witnesses does not necessarily speak to their substantiality or credibility.

Defense spokesperson Karen Jimeno also told media that their list is shorter because their witnesses, although significantly fewer, are enough to support their case.

Jimeno also said that if needed, the defense reserves the right to add witnesses to the list as they see fit.

Below is the list of witnesses that the defense panel intends to present, as submitted to the court on Tuesday, January 31. – Rappler.com