MANILA, Philippines (May 23 2012) - Today's session, the 41st trial day of the impeachment case against Justice Renato Corona, lasted only 25 minutes after the respondent failed to attend for medical reason.
But the historic imeachment trial appear to be on the homestretch as presiding judge Senate President Juan Enrile set the oral arguments on Monday and the verdict may be out Tuesday.
Enrile ruled that the defense team can present Corona and its evidence for the defense of the chief magistrate at 2 p.m. Friday.
"If you do not submit your evidence we will consider the matter submitted on the record," Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, sitting as presiding judge of the impeachment court, told defense lead counsel Serafin Cuevas.
Corona was rushed to the hospital Tuesday night and is presently confined at the intensive care unit of the Medical City early Wednesday for monitoring of his heart condition.
Despite Corona's non-appearance at the Senate, Enrile said the impeachment court will still consider the testimony statement of the chief justice and will keep it in the records, contrary to his previous threat to strike out the testimony if Corona fails to return to the witness stand.
"We will consider the case submitted on the basis of evidence presented," he said.
Enrile also directed the prosecution and defense panels to prepare for the oral arguments on Monday. He said both panels will be given one hour each for their arguments.
According to the rules, the prosecution will open the arguments followed by the rebuttal of the defense panel. The closing remarks will be done by the prosecution.
Senate Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada said that the Senate may render judgement on the impeachment case after the oral arguments on Monday or the following day.
Enrile said each senator will be given two minutes each to announce and explain their votes.
Cuevas earlier said the defense lawyers were unable to talk to Corona, whom he said was under sedation, and ask the chief magistrate personally if he was willing to return to the Senate today.
He said Corona's wife, Cristina, and children assured the defense lawyers that the chief magistrate is willing to be cross-examined as soon as he recovers.
Cuevas said Corona may be able to return to the Senate by Monday, but said that the chief magistrate may not be "physically and mentally" fit to take the witness stand again.
Enrile issued the deadline to the defense and made declarations about the schedule of the oral arguments after Cuevas told him that they could not assure the date when Corona will be well enough to return for the direct and cross examinations.
The presiding judge said that the ruling is final and "cannot be reconsidered by anyone."
The prosecution has offered to dispense with the cross examination of Corona if no further direct examination is done by the defense. (From Philstar.com)