Prosecution, defense engage in verbal tussles

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Prosecution vows to establish perjury; defense will argue for guilt beyond reasonable doubt

THE BETTER MAN. Members of the defense and prosecution teams remain friendly while in court.

MANILA, Philippines – A newly created bloc in the House calling itself “Movement 188” accused the camp of Chief Justice Renato Corona of running scared and being in panic mode at the end of Week 1.

The defense, for its part, insisted it will challenge claims that a mere preponderance of evidence is needed to establish guilt on the part of Corona.

The prosecution, according to a statement by Movement 188, is set to present “more official and authentic documents and more reliable witnesses this second week” to prove that Corona had either “misdeclared and/or underdeclared his assets in his Statemements of Assets, Liabilities and Net worth (SALNs).”

These will establish that Corona “at the very least, repeatedly committed perjury in his annual SALN declarations,” which indicates a betrayal of public trust. This is enough, they said, to warrant “his immediate eviction from the High Court and permanent disqualification from holding public office.”

The defense is expected to ask the High Court to ask certain senator-judges to inhibit themselves in the trial and to file another urgent motion for a temporary restraining order (TRO) to stop the Senate from proceeding with the trial.

Defense panel spokesperson Karen Jimeno earlier gave indications the defense could take legal action to force senators they perceive to be “lawyering” for the prosecution to recuse themselves from the trial.

This was in apparent reference to Sen Franklin Drilon, also a member of the Liberal Party, whose line of questioning, facilitated the release of Corona’s SALNs.

A group led by lawyers Homobono Adaza and Alan Paguia will also reportedly file another TRO appeal before the Supreme Court despite the High Court’s decision last week to deny the five previous appeals for the magistrates to stop the Senate from proceeding.

Movement 188 stalwarts belonging to the various majority-coalition parties include Representatives Maricar Apsay (Compostela Valley), Joy Bernos (Abra), Roy Loyola (Cavite), Rene Relampagos (Bohol), Dan Fernandez (Laguna), Roger Espina (Biliran), Leo Ocampos (Misamis Occidental), Albee Benitez (Negros Occidental), Carlo Lopez (Manila), and Ben Evardone (Eastern Samar).

Defense: beyond reasonable doubt

Defense lead counsel Serafin Cuevas has insisted that Corona’s case is one of a kind and is “akin to a criminal case” that demands establishing guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

Because the trial is punitive and Corona can face a criminal case after the Senate proceedings, the Chief Justice’s rights must be protected, in accordance with the Constitution.

At the same time, Senator-judge Juan Ponce-Enrile, who is also presiding officer, had said that the burden on the prosecution is heavier because allegations against Corona thus far have not been very precise. To him, the trial is “akin to a criminal case.”

Both the prosecution and the defense need only to present “clear and convincing evidence” to establish either guilt or innocence on the part of Corona, according to Enrile.

“We will argue that,” Cuevas had declared. –

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