MANILA, Philippines (Jan 28, 2012) - Generally echoing the reasons Sen. Franklin Drilon put forward why he would not inhibit from the ongoing impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, presiding officer of the impeachment court, yesterday said he would not act on the defense motion asking Drilon to be disqualified as a judge for losing “open neutrality.”
“We will not act on that. I don’t know if they want to discuss that in the caucus. I will not even present that to the members of the court,” Enrile said.
He said removing Drilon as judge is tantamount to removing a senator who has been elected by the people, which under Senate processes can only be done through an ethics proceeding.
“We will bring Senator Drilon to an ethics proceeding, that’s the meaning of that. No one, not a member of the Senate, can ask a fellow senator of the Senate to be inhibited. Inhibition is personal to each senator of the Republic,” he added.
Under the Constitution, Enrile said Drilon is entitled to sit in all Senate proceedings and he can only be removed in accordance with “our rules on ethics.”
Sought for reaction, defense lawyers Ramon Esguerra and Tranquil Salvador III said they will respect the decision of the presiding officer and the body.
[What can we do about it? We will respect it. Inhibition is voluntary to the person... He (Sen. Drilon) already said he will not inhibit, we respect that too,” Esguerra said.
Although he would prefer to wait for the Senate body to act and decide on their motion, Salvador said there are “certain indications” why the defense panel had to put the issue on the table.
“We want to wait, and be reasonable (before we react). I don’t want to second guess, and it’s hard to assume how the impeachment court will decide,” he added.
Salvador, however, said that the defense needed to put their position in writing and present it to court to “inform the court primarily” of their concerns.
He also conceded that “ultimately, it is upon the court to act or not act on it (motion).”
Senator Drilon had earlier announced that he would not inhibit in the ongoing impeachment trial for reasons that Enrile basically validated. (From Philstar.com)