Take witness stand, Corona urged

After Corona visited TV and radio stations, Enrile, Malacañang and the prosecution want to see the Chief Justice on the witness stand

WITNESS CORONA? Calls mount for Chief Justice Renato Corona to testify but his lawyers say it depends if his testimony is necessary. File photo

MANILA, Philippines – Will he just be speaking from the radio booth? For Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, Malacañang and the prosecution team, it’s time Chief Justice Renato Corona goes beyond his media blitz.

Enrile, the Palace and prosecutors reiterate their call for Corona to testify on the eve of the start of his lawyers’ presentation of witnesses and evidence. After Corona went on a media blitz last week, they believe the Chief Justice must now address the Senate. (Read: 10 truths according to CJ Corona.)

The presiding officer of the impeachment court told radio dzBB on Sunday, March 11, that Corona is the best witness on one of the most contentious issues in the trial: his dollar accounts.

Kung ako ang abogado niya, ihaharap ko siya. Siya ang principal actor na makakapagbigay ng kaliwanagan … wala nang iba.” (If I were his lawyer, I will present him. He is the principal actor who can give clarity, no one else.)

Corona has said he is open to testifying but will rely on the advice of his laywers. The defense counsels have yet to decide whether to present their client or not.

Enrile said that he will ensure that the senator-judges will respect the Chief Justice should he decide to face the court.

Hindi ko papayagan bastusin nila ang Chief Justice. Magre-resign ako [kapag nangyari iyan].” (I will not allow the Chief Justice to be disrespected. I will resign if that happens.)

“The Chief Justice is the head of an equal branch of government. He must be respected. If you disrespect him, it’s like you disrespected your own country, the Constitution,” Enrile said in Filipino.

RESPECT CORONA. Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile says he will resign if senators disrespect Corona in case he testifies. File photo

Shifting to mute mode?

While they want to see Corona in court, prosecutors doubt he will testify.

In a statement, the prosecution said Corona’s media statements may just be bluster.

“We guess the Chief Justice is making all [this] noise so he can shift to a mute mode when the trial resumes. His tack is to seek an acquittal through media interviews,” said prosecution spokesperson Marikina Rep Romero “Miro” Quimbo.

The prosecution though is not dropping its challenge to Corona. Another spokesperson, Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara said Corona should opt to testify instead of his so-called defense by publicity.

“If the Chief Justice wants to tell the truth, then his place should be on the witness stand, not on the radio booth. The latter is where DJs spin music, not where a CJ can spin his version of events.”

"HIS PLACE." The prosecution says the witness stand is the place for Corona but the defense lawyers argue the decision is theirs to make.

‘Stop the blind items’  

The Palace also again urged Corona to testify. In an interview on state-run radio dzRB, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said that the chief magistrate should stop resorting to what she calls “blind items.”

“It’s becoming [like], let’s not be fond of blind items. If he has proof, he should say it,” Valte said in Filipino.

Valte was referring to media statements of Corona that a senator allegedly sent him an emissary after he was impeached in December 2011. The emissary supposedly asked him to resign lest he be “stripped in public.”

Corona refused to name the senator and the emissary. Valte said Malacañang sent no emissaries to the Chief Justice.

Despite calls for Corona to testify, his lawyers say the decision is up to them. The only categorical announcement from the panel so far is that his wife will testify. – Rappler.com