Wednesday, 21 March 2012 14:13
The leadership of the Senate assured on Tuesday to render verdict on the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona before the sine die adjournment of Congress on June 7.
”We will finish it before June. We will not allow it to go beyond the end of the session this first half of the year,” Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said in media interview before Tuesday’s morning session.
Senate President Pro-Tempore Jinggoy Estrada, for his part, said the Senate, sitting as impeachment court, has no time table, but “we will render the verdict before we adjourn sine die.”
Estrada, however, said it would be impossible to finish Corona’s trial before the Senate takes a break for the Lenten season on March 23.
”If the defense will not finish the presentation of witnesses, and I think they cannot, we will continue the impeachment trial when we resume on May 7,” Estrada said.
The historic impeachment trial of the chief magistrate started last January 16 with the prosecution panel submitting eight articles of the impeachment complaint but eventually reduced it just to three articles which the prosecutors claimed are enough to convict Corona for betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the Constitution.
The House of Representatives' prosecutors presented a total of 23 witnesses before resting their case, with one reservation on the Corona’s dollar accounts.
On the other hand, the defense team has so far presented a total of 11 witnesses, most of them testifying in connection with Corona’s statement of assets, liabilities and net worth which, according to the prosecution, was not properly declared by the respondent.
Enrile said he has no idea whether the defense would bring Corona’s wife, Cristina, to the witness stand within this week.
”I don’t know if they would present her before our Lenten break. Let’s see if the defense will bring her this week,” Enrile said.
Enrile also said that he would not stop the defense from presenting some government officials in relation to the filing of the SALN, “but they have to justify the relevance of these people to the case.”
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