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Lacson hits Tupas over media exposés

Rappler.com
But the public has the 'right to know,' insists Tupas

MANILA, Philippines – What’s with these prosecutors?

In an apparent dig at Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas, Sen. Panfilo Lacson on Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2012, criticized the “undisciplined presentation of evidence” before the media against impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona.

On Tuesday, Jan 3, 2012, and barely two weeks before the Senate convenes as an impeachment court, Tupas, who is also the House of Representatives’ chief prosecutor, held a press conference to expose Corona’s alleged P14.5-million condominium unit at The Bellagio in Fort Bonifacio Global City.

Tupas then urged Corona to release his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth to prove that he declared the property. Corona reportedly acquired the unit in 2009, according to Tupas.

Lacson questioned why the parties involved in the impeachment should choose to present evidence to the media instead of just waiting for the trial to start.

“If we allow such undisciplined public presentation of evidence by any party in utter disregard of the ethics of their legal profession to continue, the Senate may lose control of the situation and I am certain it will damage not just the Senate as an impeachment court but the sacredness of the whole impeachment process as well,” he said in a statement.

“We should not allow such mockery to go unchecked. Either we throw our impeachment rules out of the window or straight to their faces,” he said.

Merits of the case

Tupas maintained he did the right thing, invoking the “public’s right to know.”

“We just disclosed a piece of evidence which we will prove during the trial. We never touched on the merits of the case. We only stated a fact as alleged in the complaint,” Tupas said in an SMS statement sent to Rappler.

“The people have the right to know the facts in an impeachment proceeding, which is actually the power of the sovereign,” Tupas added.

The Senate will begin the trial of Corona on January 16, although Corona’s lawyers had asked for the holding of a preliminary hearing on the case.

In an interview on ANC’s Headstart on Wednesday, Sen Francis Escudero dropped hints he was in favor of a preliminary hearing to review the impeachment complaint.

“If the impeachment complaint is fatally defective it’s as if there’s no impeachment complaint at all,” he said.

But the prosecution sees the proposed preliminary hearing as nothing but a delaying tactic on the part of the defense team. – with a report from Carmela Fonbuena/Rappler.com