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Lawmakers say Corona's rebuttal to impeachment complaint weak

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Lawmakers on Tuesday said that the answer of Chief Justice Renato Corona on the impeachment complaint was "weak".

Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares, member of the prosecution panel in the trial, said the answer of the Chief Justice "is weak and failed to argue against the jurisdiction of the Senate."

In a 79-page reply submitted to the Senate on Monday, Corona asked the Upper Chamber of Congress, sitting as an impeach court, to dismiss outright the impeachment complaint for failing to meet the requirements in the Constitution.

He also asked that the Senate "enter a judgment of acquittal for all the Articles of Impeachment." There are eight articles all in all.

The Chief Justice also said the complaint filed did not have any basis and borne out of the "bias against (him) and the predisposition to destroy him by associating him with former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and by misinterpreting his concurrence to certain Supreme Court decisions as protecting (the) former president."

He said the prosecution based its case on decisions of a collegial body, the Supreme Court.

Colmenares, however, said they would argue "that the trial should proceed because the Senate has jurisdiction, and that the claim that the Chief Justice cannot be convicted merely because the decisions listed in the complaint is collegial is absurd because the Constitution requires each Supreme Court justice to be independent and impartial."

"Any justice proven in favor of a party to a case may be impeached even if the decision is collegial," he said.

Colmenares said the issue is whether the Chief Justice "was biased in favor (of) Arroyo when immediately agendad Arroyo's TRO (temporary restraining order) petition and voted to grant it despite non-fulfillment of conditions it set."

"The fact that other justices may also be partial does not save an accused from being convicted for partiality and subservience to a favored party," he said.

Another argument raised by Corona in his reply to the impeachment complaint was the lack of verification of the 188 congressmen who signed the complaint.

Marikina Rep. Romero Federico Quimbo, spokesman of the public prosecutors in the impeachment trial, said "the irony is that he (Corona) questioned the verification of the 188 members of Congress, but he himself did not verify his answer."

Quimbo said the 79-page reply of the Chief Justice did not contain his signature, only the signatures of the six lawyers who will represent him in the trial.

As such, he said that the prosecution panel of the House of Representatives has yet to check if the reply sent to the Senate contains Corona’s signature.
"I don’t know what their strategy is, but it’s something that weakens the accountability of the document," he said.

The Marikina solon said that verification was used for holding a party liable for perjury or falsehood for statements or documents one makes.

"With this answer not having verified, then that means we cannot go after the respondent chief justice in the event there is falsehood (in his statements)," he said.

Meanwhile, Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Teddy Casino, a signatory of the impeachment complaint against SC Chief Justice, chided the Chief Magistrate for hiding behind technicalities and the issue of collegiality.

"He (Corona) aims to mislead the Senate into a protracted and useless exercise of trying to prove that 188 congressmen actually read the complaint and were not simply dictated upon into signing the impeachment complaint," he said.

Casino said the fact that the complainants verified their complaint "already binds them to the contents thereof."

"Corona should stop hiding behind the cloak of collegiality because it is a very weak defense. The decisions and actions of the Supreme Court like that of Congress is based on collegiality but the issue here is the individual votes of all its members. Like the justices, we congressmen are made to account for our individual stands on issues that are laid before us to act upon. It is our contention that Corona indeed voted with bias and partiality to the Arroyos when cases involving them are being heard in the Supreme Court," he said.

By Lilybeth G. Ison-PNA




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