Corona verdict 'immediately executory'
MANILA, Philippines – Right after the Senate issues a verdict on the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile will put the decision in writing.
In an interview before the Senate votes on Corona’s fate, Senate Majority Leader Vicente “Tito” Sotto III told reporters the verdict will be immediately executory.
Sotto said Enrile will write a letter on the outcome of the voting on the same day on Tuesday, May 29.
“In my last conversation with the Senate President, he said right after the verdict, we will prepare the letter informing the proper authorites of what the verdict of the Senate will be. [He’ll write] the Supreme Court, the executive department, the judiciary, and Congress,” said Sotto.
Sotto said once the trial opens, he will move so that a nominal voting will be held.
Voting will be done sequentially, starting with Article 2, then 3 and 7.
Sotto said if Corona is convicted in Article 2, there will no longer be a need to vote on Articles 3 and 7.
Enrile bloc not voting as one
Sotto also denied that the Enrile bloc will vote as one. The bloc is headed by Enrile, and includes Sotto and Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Gregorio Honasan.
“The Senate President has made it very clear to us and to others who he talked to that his vote is his vote. He is not influencing anyone. He does not want to influence anyone, even the so-called Enrile bloc,” said Sotto.
“As a matter of fact, he just said that before the voting today, if we ask him what his vote will be, he will inform us but that’s about it.”
Sotto said he made his decision last night, after consulting his family. The senator said if his explanation will exceed two minutes, he may just decide to submit it in writing instead of taking up the time of the impeachment court.
Sotto said that while senators talk to each other, they do not consult their colleagues about their vote.
Possible to just censure Corona?
Sotto said the Senate will likely decide only to either remove or not remove Corona from office.
On Monday, May 28, Sen Miriam Defensor Santiago made a manifestation that the Constitution provides for a possible censure or admonition of Corona in case of conviction.
Yet in past media interviews, Enrile said the decision will only be to remove or not remove Corona.
Sotto said, “It’s in the Constitution. If she will bring it up later, we will probably tackle [it] as the Senate or as the court.”
Sotto added that it is possible for senators to abstain.
“That’s like acquittal because it won’t be counted as a positive vote,” he said.
To whom are you accountable?
In a statement, Sen Edgardo Angara, who will be voting first, said that he mulled over the closing arguments of the prosecution and the defense.
In his vote, Angara said he considered the moral fitness of Corona to stay in office. He said the impeachment cross is meant to “fill the gap in accountability.”
"Much of our government is based on what we call the Republican System: it has the distinctive mark of representation. Meaning, you represent the people. However, the judiciary is not elected so they do not represent the people. So to whom are they accountable and by what method?” – Rappler.com