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#CoronaTrial: Day 5

KD Suarez

This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.

Day 5: All parties discuss issues concerning rules and evidence

MANILA, Philippines – Here are the highlights of Day 5 of the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona.

9: 30 am: Defense submits a memorandum to the impeachment court asking it to stop prosecution from presenting evidence on Corona’s alleged ill-gotten wealth, saying it’s irrelavant to the complaint filed against him.

11:00 am: Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago holds a press briefing at the Senate. She will be present at the impeachment trial starting today.

Around 11:30 am: Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Commissioner Kim Henares arrives at the Senate. She is expected to present the Income Tax Returns (ITRs) of Chief Justice Corona as part of the evidence of the prosecution.

Around 11:50 am: Prosecution spokespersons hold a briefing at the Senate, where they hit supposed technicalities raised by the defense panel.

1:49 pm: Defense, prosecution panels enter session hall.

2:03 pm: Day 5 of trial starts. Senator Santiago delivers invocation. 20 of 23 senators present, according to roll call.

2:08 pm: Senator-Judge Gregorio Honasan asks both defense and prosecution panels if they are still adhering to the rule of presumption of innocence? Both panels say yes.

2:14 pm: Senator-Judge Juan Ponce Enrile, presiding officer of the impeachment court, reminds both panels: The public is watching. They are impatient… let us find the truth.

2:15 pm: Santiago manifests. She then explains that the impeachment is neither political nor judicial – it is both quasi-judicial, and quasi-political. As such, rules of court do not fully apply. She then says, “Wag na tayong magpa-epal-epal, and mga nandito.”

She then proceeds to ask both camps to state the number of witnesses and documents that they have. Defense says they have 15 witnesses and no less than 2 documents. Prosecution, on the other hand, asks for time. Santiago then formally asks impeachment court to ask both parties to submit lists of witnesses and evidence, to speed up trial. Both sides say they will comply, with prosecution asking for 3 days.

2:20 pm: Santiago then asks both sides: What is the standard of proof in the impeachment proceedings? Santiago suggests impeachment court should consider “overwhelming preponderance of evidence.”

Prosecution says substantial evidence enough; defense, meanwhile, argues it should be “beyond reasonable doubt.” Santiago then submits issue for discussion in a Senate caucus.

2:27 pm: Court now discussing the memoranda on Article 2 of the Articles of Impeachment. Defense has submitted; prosecution ordered by impeachment court to submit theirs by 10 am Wednesday.

2:29 pm: Former justice Serafin Cuevas, for defense, explains their memorandum. Cuevas asserts that the prosecution submitted documentary evidence that are irrelevant, and insists rules of court apply; Enrile however says they are not covered by the rules of court, impeachment court has its own rules.

2:35 pm: A discussion between Cuevas, Enrile follows, regarding the rules. Enrile says rules of criminal procedure and evidence are “suppletory” to the rules of the impeachment court. He also says presiding officer will allow marking and presentation of documentary evidence conditionally, until matter is resolved.

2:43 pm: Cuevas continues discussing their memorandum on Article 2. He raises defense point that the issue of “ill-gotten” wealth only mentioned in the discussion, not in actual Article. He also notes phrasing of the complaint, saying using phrases such as “it has been reported…” does not suffice.

2:47 pm: Prosecution responds to the defense. “The allegation of the complaint is sufficient,” as long as the respondent understands what it is. Prosecution’s point is that Chief Justice Corona is aware of the charge, and even denied it in response to the complaint.

2:52 pm: Enrile asks: What is the purpose of enumerating 8 Articles of Impeachmeant if they are not allegations of ultimate fact? He then says the impeachment court is in a quandary as to how to discuss Article 2.

2:57 pm: Cuevas responds to Tupas, says defense believes allegations over “ill-gotten wealth” are conjectural, and does not have a place in the impeachment court. “Sinabi na naming ayaw naming patulan ang ill-gotten wealth [issue], pero ayaw naming maging bastos.”

3:06 pm: Santiago manifests again. Says rules of court will not need jurisprudence from the Supreme Court, and that these are general principles; these should be liberally applied. She then cites her experience during the 2000 impeachment trial of then President Joseph Estrada.

If there is doubt, Santiago says, evidence should be accepted. “The more evidence we admit, the more the people will believe we are fair,” she says. If they don’t, she adds, people will be doubtful of the court: “‘di sasabihin, anong tinatago niyo?” She then proposes that there is already sufficient notice given to defendant, and that defense prepare for BIR Chief’s testimony.

3:13 pm: Tupas then manifests, says prosecution believes the Senate is acting like an ordinary court. He says in the past week, impeachment court has been conducted like a criminal trial. He then asks impeachment court to be “liberal” in rules.

Enrile interrupts him, says chair is open to suggestion on how flexible the court should be – is it on the rules? On evidence?. He also says, prosecution has been given enough time to prepare for the trial. Later on, Tupas submits to “the wisdom of this honorable court,” backs down.

3:21 pm: Senator-Judge Alan Peter Cayetano speaks, discusses the nature of an impeachment court. Asks, “Ano ba ang proposal natin” regarding the rules of court?

Discussion noticeably shifts from English to Filipino, led by Enrile. He then tells both prosecution, defense to help him determine the rules. “Kung papalitan ang rules, nasa inyo. Ako ay open at susunod sa utos ng hukuman.” He says he is doing this to set an example for succeeding impeachment trials, to set precedent. He then says: “Kung ayaw niyo, gagawa nalang ako ng ruling.”

3:34 pm: Senator-Judges Francis Pangilinan, Manuel Villar speak. Pangilinan says there should be a discussion on how rules should be flexible, while Villar says he sees nothing wrong in the proceedings. “‘Wag tayong maghanap ng perpektong sistema. Maganda ho ang takbo natin. Humahanga ako sa paghawak.”

3:40 pm: Enrile then says, “hindi ako gagawa ng pasyang hindi makatarungan.”

3:41 pm: Senator-Judge Vicente Sotto III then moves to adjourn hearing until 2 pm Wednesday, January 25, until the prosecution files their memorandum at 10 am on that day.

Session is adjourned, with no witness or document presented. –

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