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Proof beyond reasonable doubt?

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Prosecution and defense clash on what type of evidence is required in the trial

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate will determine in a caucus whether the ongoing impeachment trial would require proof beyond reasonable doubt as basis for judging impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona.

At the resumption of the Corona impeachment trial on Tuesday, January 24, senator-judge Miriam Defensor-Santiago asked both parties what standards they would use in assessing evidence to be presented in court.

The prosecution, represented by Rep. Niel Tupas, said they will only rely on “substantial evidence,” as Tupas likened the proceeding to an administrative case.

The defense, led by counsel Serafin Cuevas, disagreed, insisting that the required evidence should be “proof beyond criminal doubt” because while the trial is not exactly a criminal one, the punishment for it is “practically a death sentence.”

“The proof required must be proof beyond reasonable doubt,” Cuevas asserted, renewing a running discussion on the nature of the ongoing proceedings.

Santiago recommended to the presiding officer that the senator-judges should decide on this matter in a caucus. The impeachment court raised no objection to her recommendation.

She reminded both sides, however, that “this is a proceeding in a class of its own.”

In a previous interview that Rappler had with lawyer Jose Manuel Diokno, dean of the law department of De La Salle University, he noted already the gaps in how the proceedings would be treated and handled by the judges.

“Is it reasonable doubt, is it substantial evidence, is it preponderance? So that is an open issue and the Senate will have to tackle that issue,” Diokno said.

He said that while the trial is a legal proceeding, it is “controlled and dominated by political players.” Diokno added: “The judges are not really judicial judges, these are senators. The prosecutors are also not really practicing lawyers but politicians. Basically, the only real litigators you will expect to have there are the defense counsel because they are private practitioners.” –

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