MANILA, Philippines – The plan was clear. The prosecution panel will rest its case but it will reserve its right to present evidence on Chief Justice Renato Corona’s dollar accounts and present as witness Supreme Court Associate Justice Ma Lourdes Sereno.
Lead prosecutor Niel Tupas Jr made the manifestations on Wednesday, February 29, when he was formally terminating the prosecution’s presentation of evidence. But when presiding officer Juan Ponce Enrile questioned the additional testimony of Sereno, Tupas didn’t fight it.
Tupas backtracked and said that the panel will just have one reservation, pertaining to the Corona’s dollar accounts.
“They would not have allowed us to rest our case because there’s a pending witness,” said prosecutor Giorgidi Aggabao.
Prosecutor Rep Neri Colmenares is unhappy with the prosecution panel’s decision.
After all, he was the one who sent an invitation to Sereno on Tuesday, February 28, to testify before the impeachment court.
“There is no reason why we could not have waited at least up to Monday for that. I’m going to raise that in the prosecution panel,” Colmenares said.
Colmenares is not giving up. “Wala pa naming offer of evidence ang prosecution. We have not formally rested pa naman,” he added.
But Aggabao explained: “That’s the point of the presiding officer. It would be incongruous for us to rest and at the same time we’re still awaiting for the presentation of additional evidence. We cannot do that.”
If the prosecution’s original plan was followed, they would have asked for 10 days to notify the court if Sereno will testify.
Aggabao said the decision was a result of a “sidebar caucus” they held after Enrile’s pronouncements.
“We were not sure on whether she (Sereno) will accept the invitation,” said Aggabao.
“The reason why they allowed us to reserve only with respect to the dollar deposits is because there’s a TRO [issued by the High Court on justices and employees],” he added. – Rappler.com