Long Senate trial looms

Rappler.com
Fariñas did not vote vs Corona but will prosecute him

MANILA, Philippines – The impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona next year could drag for six months, if he does not resign, one of the members of the House prosecution panel said on Friday, Dec. 16, 2011.

Interviewed by Karen Davila on ANC’s Headstart, Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas cited existing Senate rules which require the prosecution to prove all eight grounds of impeachment before the senators, sitting as judges, could decide to convict. “Defend all, prove all,” Fariñas, vice chair of the House committee on justice, explained. Based on this, the trial could last six months, he added.

Prosecutors need not prove each case beyond reasonable doubt, though, he said. In an impeachment trial, one needs only to show “preponderance of evidence” to prove each case, according to Fariñas.

Fariñas is one of 11 lawmakers tasked to form the prosecution panel that will try Corona, who was impeached on Dec. 12, 2011 by 188 members of the House of Representatives.

But Fariñas did not even sign the impeachment complaint. To which Davila said, “You are a walking irony.”

Fariñas said he chose not to sign since he had not read all the articles of impeachment that were in the complaint. He said he’s the “best evidence” that the House leadership did not resort to blackmail, as alleged by the opposition, to have those signatures.

Despite his failure to sign, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte asked him to join the panel, according to Fariñas. But he is not about to work on it soon, saying he intends to have a full Christmas break this season. He has his personal reasons.

When the House moved to impeach then Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, Fariñas was all geared up. He told Headstart he skipped his summer vacation to prepare for Gutierrez’s Senate trial. But “the lady resigns,” he recalled.

The trial of a chief justice would be “educational to the people,” he said. It shows that “there are no sacred cows…that they (justices) are not infallible,” according to the solon. “Unbridled independence is a danger to justice.” – Rappler.com

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