#CoronaTrial: Day 1

KD Suarez
The Senate impeachment trial opens with no fireworks initially expected

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate impeachment court officially opens the historic trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona on Monday, Jan 16, 2012.

The Chief Justice himself is present at the Senate session hall, accompanied by his wife Cristina, and Supreme Court (SC) spokesperson Midas Marquez. The public also gets to know the people who will represent both the defense and the prosecution.

Here are the highlights of the first day.

Around 11:25 am: Chief Justice Corona speaks to court employees after a Thanksgiving Mass and a rally to support him. In his speech, Corona hints at three personalities leading efforts to remove him from office: one related to “Hacienda Luisita,” another “wanting to become vice-president,” and another one “wanting the chief justice post.” His references point to President Aquino, DOTC Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, and Associate Justice Antonio Carpio.

PRAYERS. Chief Justice Renato Corona (center) and his wife, Cristina (2nd fr left), attend a mass after the flag-raising ceremonies outside the Supreme Court building in Padre Faura, Manila, ahead of the impeachment trial against him, Jan 16, 2012. Photo by David Y. Santos.

Corona also defends himself on the issue of the alleged properties he and his wife own, saying he has only five, not 45. He also discusses the World Bank aide mémoire. He says in his speech, “Wala itong atrasan (There is no turning back).”

While Corona speaks to SC employees, the House prosecution team holds a press conference.

The Senate, meanwhile, holds a caucus, where they tackle the motions relating to the impeachment trial.

CAUCUS. Senators assemble inside a conference room at the Senate, ahead of the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona, Jan. 16, 2012.

After Corona’s speech at the SC, the defense panel holds a press conference, where they discuss the possibility of filing a temporary restraining order with the SC.

Around 12:55 pm: Members of the House prosecution panel and Chief Justice Corona are on their way to the Senate.

COASTER RIDE. Members of the House prosecution panel inside the coaster that will take them to the Senate for the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona, Jan. 16, 2012. Photo by Carmela Fonbuena.

1:12-1:15 pm: Prosecution and defense teams, Corona arrive separately at the Senate. Corona, accompanied by his family, evades the media.

Around 1:30 pm: Supreme Court Spokesperson Jose Midas Marquez arrives at the Senate.

Throughout the afternoon, protesters supporting and opposing the trial hold protests in the vicinity of the Senate.

PROTEST. Members of activist groups KMU and Bayan protest outside the Senate building, where the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona is being held, Jan 16, 2012. Photo by Natashya Gutierrez.

1:47 pm: Defense, prosecution panels enter the Senate session hall. Both sides exchange pleasantries, have photo ops with media present.

1:50 pm: Corona, wife Cristina, and Marquez enter session hall. Also seen inside the hall are former Senators Loi Ejercito, Ernesto Maceda, and Francisco Tatad, Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte Jr, and Parañaque Rep Roilo Golez.

2:00 pm: People begin settling down inside the session hall. 

2:12 pm: Senator-judges, wearing their ceremonial robes, enter the session hall. Absent are Senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Loren Legarda: Santiago called in sick due to hypertension, while Legarda is abroad, accompanying her mother who is seeking medical treatment.

2:13 pm: Sen Edgardo Angara leads the opening prayer.

2:14 pm: Senate roll call; Senate President Enrile bangs the gavel, signaling the start of the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Corona.

In his opening statement, Enrile says that the impeachment trial is a “constitutional mandate and duty” which they should not postpone or evade. He reminds the senator-judges to closely and diligently examine the evidence, and tells everyone that the trial will be bound by rules.

“Our job is to render a just verdict based on no other consideration than the facts presented to us, and our individual moral convictions,” he says.

He also urges the Senate to “see this process all the way to its conclusion.” “Let us finish the job,” he says.

2:26 pm: Enrile ends opening statement, and court proceeds to appearances of the prosecution and defense teams. Rep Niel Tupas leads the prosecution, while former SC Justice Serafin Cuevas leads the defense.

2:38 pm: Motion for preliminary hearing is brought up; Enrile approves of discussion of the motion. Defense panel argues the complaint was rushed, and wants it to be verified first. On the other hand, the prosecution argues it was verified, and there is no need for a hearing. Enrile rules there is no need for a preliminary hearing, and the Senate proceeds to trial.

3:08 pm: Opening statements of prosecution and defense. Rep Tupas delivers the opening statement of the prosecution. He says they are in the trial “to search for the truth to restore the independece of the judiciary,” and outlines their arguments.

For the defense, private lawyer Eduardo delos Angeles delivers the opening statement. The defense argues that the case is due to the current administration’s antagonistic view of the current Supreme Court leadership, and refutes the arguments of the prosecution.

3:33 pm: Sen Vicente Sotto III brings up the motion for contempt filed by a certain Fernando Perito. Enrile dismisses the motion, saying Perito has no standing in court.

3:36 pm: Enrile warns both sides to forego discussion and presentation of evidence outside the impeachment court.

3:37 pm: Session is adjourned until 2 pm Tuesday, Jan 17, 2012. – Rappler.com