Prosecution goofs

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After telling the media that they were ready to pursue Article 2, prosecution panel agrees to postpone trial

MANILA, Philippines – The impeachment trial on Tuesday, January 17, ended almost 2 hours after it began, with the prosecution unsuccessful in pushing for discussions on the Chief Justice’s financial assets.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile ruled to adjourn the hearing after the prosecution insisted on tackling Article 2 of the Articles of Impeachment that the House of Representatives filed against Chief Justice Renato Corona.

Enrile said he thought that the prosecution was going to follow the order of the Articles of Impeachment as submitted to the impeachment court. Following this order, Article 1 refers to accusations that Corona has been partial in favor of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Article 2, on the other hand, pertains to the prosecution’s allegations that Corona violated the rule on transparency when he did not disclose his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth.

Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga, tasked to pursue Article 2 on behalf of the prosecution, told the impeachment court that the panel was prepared only to present Article 2, not Article 1.

The defense balked at the idea. “All the while, we agreed to the presentation, [that it will be] in accordance with the sequence in the complaint,” said defense lawyer Serafin Cuevas.

Enrile asked if the prosecution was ready to present for Article 2. Barzaga said they would only present “computer-generated documents,” a reply that did not sit well with Enrile.

After discussions, Sen. Joker Arroyo offered some advice. “I don’t think we can limit the prosecution. I have once been a prosecutor. Sometimes we have witnesses, sometimes we don’t have. Sometimes we rearrange it. That is what happened to the Estrada impeachment.”

As a representative of Makati in 2000, Arroyo was part of a House of Representatives panel that prosecuted then President Joseph Estrada.

When Enrile asked the prosecution if they would be willing to postpone the trial, Barzaga said yes, prompting Enrile, after a break, to adjourn the trial.

Trillanes disappointed

Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV expressed disappointment over how the prosecution performed on Tuesday. He said he expected more from them.

But Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño, a signatory to the impeachment complaint, said these were all part of “birth pains.”

He added: “I know for a fact that the team was prepared to present evidence today for marking and for authentication by the witnesses tomorrow. I’m sure they will get better as the hearings go on.”

Key characters in Tuesday’s trial trended on Twitter, notably #prosecution and #JPE (initials of Enrile).

On Monday afternoon, January 16, members of the prosecution team already started leaking information to the media that they would pursue Article 2 first. On Tuesday morning, sources from the prosecution told Rappler that indeed they were planning to tackle Article 2 and present “documentary evidence” attesting to Corona’s properties.

After the suspension of the trial at around 4 pm, prosecutors held a closed-door meeting wherein some of them argued over how they performed at the trial, according to a source. They were now trying to finalize the order of presentation of the Articles of Impeachment. – With reports from Carmela Fonbuena/

(Editor’s note: In an earlier post, we quoted Sen. Arroyo as saying, “Sometimes we have wit.” He actually meant, “Sometimes we have witnesses.” We apologize for the error.)

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