Philippine National Police

Corona to apologize to impeachment court

Natashya Gutierrez

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

According to defense counsel Ramon Esguerra, Chief Justice Renato Corona is determined to appear on Friday, May 25

DEFYING DOCTORS. Chief Justice Renato Corona will return to the Senate Friday, defying doctors' orders. File photo by Joseph Vidal/PRIB/Senate Pool

MANILA, Philippines – Chief Justice Renato Corona plans to defy doctors’ orders and attend his impeachment trial Friday, May 25.

According to defense counsel Ramon Esguerra, Corona told him and lead counsel Serafin Cuevas, “I need to go back, to apologize, to allow questions.” 

Despite spending more than 24 hours in the Intensive Care Unit at Medical City and the advice of doctors to avoid stressful situations, Esguerra said the Chief Justice agreed with his counsels, when they told him it is crucial that he return.

“We were able to talk to him even briefly,” Esguerra said. “He is determined to actually appear.”

If he attends the trial, his doctors said they would require him to sign a waiver that says he is aware of the consequences of going to the Senate on Friday. Corona has signed this waiver.

‘Merely misconstrued’

Esguerra told Rappler that counsels unanimously decided Wednesday, May 23, that the Chief Justice — to the extent that his medical condition would permit — needs to be present on Friday, the deadline given by Presiding Officer Juan Ponce Enrile for Corona to appear in court before both sides close their case.

The consensus, he said, was made after the backlash on Corona’s abrupt departure from the witness stand which senator-judges said they were offended by.

“We believe that he needs to express his apologies to the Senate President and the rest of the senators for that misinterpreted gesture of leaving the Senate [hall] without being formally discharged,” said Esguerra.

Corona is also expected to explain to the court how he started to feel towards the end of his statement. Esguerra said Corona told them his vision blurred in the last 5 minutes, and he started to become disoriented.

Counsels have denied that Corona’s departure was a walk out and that it was staged, admitting they too were surprised when the Chief Justice left the hall. 

“It was merely misconstrued,” Cuevas told media. “Meron ba talagang walk out?” (Was there really a walk out?)

Cuevas added that he thought Corona simply needed to use the restroom.


Cuevas visited Corona Wednesday morning, May 23, but was not allowed to enter the ICU as Corona was still sedated. Cuevas told media he was not able to talk to the Chief Justice, but had seen him. He was descrbed as having been “gasping for breath.”

Esguerra and Cuevas returned to check in on Corona at 11:30 am Thursday, May 24, at which point Corona was more responsive.

“He was speaking very, very softly, but very firm in what he told us,” said Esguerra.

According to the defense counsel, Cuevas said Corona looked much better and was less pale this morning than when he had last seen him. Esguerra noted, however, that during their short 10-minute talk, his blood pressure was fluctuating on the monitor.

Esguerra said they did not have a chance to ask Corona for further instructions, such as closing the case, in the event that he could not attend Friday’s trial, because of Corona’s fragile condition. 

While he assured Rappler that “nothing will prevent [Corona] from coming” if his condition from Thursday morning stays the same, Esguerra also said that because the issue is medical, the outcome is still unpredictable.

Ang hirap kasi ng condition, it’s medical. Anything can change from now when we hear him and he told us that, until tomorrow,” he said.

No new strategy

Esguerra added that there will likely be no more direct examination, and the defense will instead submit Corona to cross-examination immediately. He also said that in the event Corona is unable to attend the trial, they will not ask the court for an extension.

“We view the order of Presiding Officer as final. As always, we will be compliant,” said Esguerra.

Cuevas told the court Wednesday that the defense will not be submitting supporting documents to bolster Corona’s opening statement wherein he denied the charges against him. The defense is asking the senator-judges instead to rely on Corona’s credibility.

He also did not dismiss the possibility of calling for a mistrial. –

Click on the links below for more of Rappler’s special coverage of CJ Corona’s trial.

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Natashya Gutierrez

Natashya is President of Rappler. Among the pioneers of Rappler, she is an award-winning multimedia journalist and was also former editor-in-chief of Vice News Asia-Pacific. Gutierrez was named one of the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders for 2023.