MANILA, Philippines (Jan 17, 2012) – On the first day of the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona, the Senate impeachment court denied a series of motions filed by the defense, including the motion for preliminary hearing.
With the move, the prosecution panel believed it has successfully blocked the attempt of the Corona team to delay the impeach proceedings against the chief magistrate and presentation of evidence can start as early as today.
The prosecution panel fired the opening salvo during the opening of the impeachment trial with the alleged ill-gotten properties of Corona.
Quezon Rep. Erin Tanada said prosecutors brought the issue of 45 properties allegedly acquired by Chief Justice when he was appointed as Associate Justice of the SC in 2002.
"Once it was proven that his properties were ill-gotten, it is his burden to prove it wrong in it the Senate," Tanada told a press briefing, adding it would vital for Corona to appear and submit himself before the impeachment proceedings.
In a press briefing, Aurora Rep. Sonny Angara also called on Corona to file a leave of absence while facing an impeachment case to avoid using the High Court's resources in planning his defense.
"Nagagamit ang office ng Supreme Court sa pagmemeeting para sa depensa ni CJ Corona sa kanyang trial," he said.
House prosecutors have estimated the impeachment will last for a month.
Meantime, Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas Jr., the head of the House prosecution panel, reiterated that the impeachment trial was not intended to put the whole judiciary in question.
Tupas said the House prosecutors are merely out to make people accountable for their misdeeds, even officers of the High Court.
"We are not here to indict the Supreme Court as an institution, or to do battle with the judicial branch of government. We are here to search for the truth so as to restore the strength and independence of the judiciary," he said.
Tupas stressed that the "Filipino people is a power that is higher than the executive, the legislative or even the judiciary."
"No matter how high and mighty one's position may be, one can never ever be beyond public accountability," he added.
The Iloilo legislator also claimed that Corona has been a "loyal servant" of former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
"Such loyalty had numerous rewards for the Chief Justice. Imagine, GMA paid for his back surgery. His wife was given plum positions in the John Hay Management Corporation. He was appointed Associate Justice, and the best reward of all, against all odds, he took a midnight oath as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court," Tupas said. (From Philstar.com)