MANILA, Philippines – Ever felt a sense of deja vu when watching the impeachment trial against Chief Justice Renato Corona?
Since we’re on a break from the sometimes emotionally-charged proceedings, we took time to review some scenes in Corona’s trial that utterly looked familiar.
We discovered that some trial events bear striking similarities to the first impeachment trial that we witnessed 11 years ago – against then President Joseph Estrada.
Let’s take a look.
Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago lost her temper over lawyer Vitaliano Aguirre II in February when the latter covered his ears while Santiago was giving her trademark tirade against the prosecution. She later moved for Aguirre to be held in contempt, saying what he did was a “galactic act of epal‘ (attention-seeking action).”
To “punish” him, the impeachment court later admonished the former private prosecutor.
Santiago also lost her cool – but this time over 3 spectators in the impeachment trial against Estrada: Dante Jimenez, Bettina Aboitiz and Rosanna Tuazon-Fores.
She accused them of looking at her “provocatively.” What further irked Santiago was that the 3 stood up when all spectators were supposed to remain seated until the trial’s adjournment. They were later escorted out of the session hall. The senator-judges eventually banned them from further attending the trial.
Photo of Inquirer dated January 2001
Santiago scolded private prosecutor Arthur Lim in January, as she asked him to stop “screaming” during the proceedings. Santiago told Lim that only she and her fellow senator-judges are allowed to scream in the session hall. The lady senator even threatened Lim with contempt.
In 2001, however, it was Lim who castigated not only Santiago, but the rest of the Senate for banning Jimenez, Fores and Aboitiz from the trial.
Lim, then the president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, declared the Senate’s action as unconstitutional. He even offered the IBP’s services to Jimenez, Fores and Aboitiz, saying they will help them fight for their constitutional right to attend the impeachment trial.
PSbank had to defend itself after Corona said that he withdrew P37-M from his bank accounts on Dec. 12, 2011 after losing trust in the bank. Corona said that he suspected it was the bank that leaked information on his accounts to the prosecution. PSbank released a statement to deny the charge, saying it has been enjoying the confidence of its clients for more than half a century.
Clarissa Ocampo, then senior vice president and trust officer of Equitable PCI bank, had to refute allegations that it had a hand in the attempt to cover up Estrada’s ownership of a P500-M trust fund, which Ocampo said Estrada had signed using another name – “Jose Velarde.” The allegations against the bank emerged after the documents showing the planned transfer of the trust fund to businessman Jaime Dichaves were antedated to February 2001.
Defense counsel Jose “Judd” Roy III was held in indirect contempt after he alleged in a press conference that the Aquino administration dangled a P100-M bribe to senators in exchange for a vote to convict Corona.
Three lawyers’ groups sought to disbar lead defense counsel Estelito Mendoza after bank official Clarissa Ocampo testified that businessman Jaime Dichaves signed the bank documents for the transfer of Estrada’s P500-M trust fund rght inside Mendoza’s office. – Rappler.com