DAY 11 – IMPEACHMENT TRIAL – February 2, 2012
By Wilfredo Avila
What a day this has been.
I’ll put the end of this post right here at the beginning. It was dud for the Prosecution! Having established that, let’s move on!
The trial began at 2:04 pm. It began with the sun shining so brightly outside the Senate building and the air was totally humid. The Prosecution must have felt the heat enveloping them.
Even before it started, Akbayan partylist Representative Arlene “Kaka” Bag-ao, the lead prosecutor for Article 3, claimed that the Coronas owned Platinum Cards that they used for their travels. He further said that the PAL Platinum Card is “given only to the friends of the boss.” The PAL website does not have information on the Platinum Card.
In a text message, Bag-ao also said that Corona got free tickets for his trips. Article 3 in the impeachment complaint against the Chief Justice deals with Corona’s alleged “failure to meet and observe the stringent standards under the Constitution that provided that a member of the judiciary must be a person of proven competence, integrity, probity, and independence in allowing the Supreme Court to act on mere letters filed by a counsel which caused the issuance of flip-flopping decisions in final and executory cases; in creating an excessive entanglement with Mrs. Arroyo through her appointment of his wife to office; and in discussing with litigants cases pending in the Supreme Court.”
The said article will be tackled next week in the impeachment court. So, we already are being treated to a preview of what this red-tainted congressman will be doing and, again, they use the media to pre-condition the minds of the people.
The peacocking Niel Tupas started with trying to insinuate a new witness to the hearing without affording the Defense a chance to cross examine two other witnesses. The Defense Lead Attorney, Justice Serafin Cuevas jumped in so fast, despite his age, to counter by saying that the prosecution was moving too fast and not not giving the defense a chance to cross the Prosecution’s witnesses. Apparently, these two witnesses has been there everyday for the past two weeks without being called by the Prosecution for the cross examination of the defense.
Presiding Judge, Juan Ponce Enrile, ruled that the cross must be first in the hearing of that day. The two witnesses,, the QC Register of Deeds and the representative of Ayala Land were called.
Atty. Esguerra took the lead for the Defense and underlined a few items that were skimmed over by the prosecution when they presented the witnesses. More markings and clarifications.
Why do I get a feeling that the defense really does not want to go into details so as to enable them to deal the fatal blow at the final offer of the evidences? Serafin Cuevas has a naughty glint in his eye every time his team makes a point and seems to say, “Watch us, and learn, Amateurs. There’s more to come!”
That it was fast turning into a really bad day for the prosecution was signaled by the turning of the sun into an actual Neil Tupas, the lead Prosecutor, called A Gregg Grigornia, VP of Burgundy to the stand and introduced his private prosecutor, Atty. Clarence Handok!
From the moment Handok started speaking, my ears hurt. He had a special gift of murdering the English language. His diction was even worse. People cringed, I cringed!
In trying to “hasten the proceedings,” he manifested most of what the witness was there for to say. This did not pass the geriatric ears of Cuevas! He cried foul and the Presiding Judge went back to basics again for the penultimate time. He taught Handok how to conduct himself in court and how to present evidence to the court.
It took almost three hours of the court’s time just to get over petty receipts of P15,000.00 to P50,000.00 monthly payments for a parking lot. When asked if he was actually the witness subpoenaed to the hearings, he admitted that he was not. He was sent there on the authority of a Board Resolution and a Secretary’s certificate to represent the President of the company. After a lengthy discussion he was allowed to continue.
Most of the papers he showed were unsigned documents and even the receipt of a transfer deed was never signed by Corona! After establishing that point the witness was excused by the Defense’s Cross. I believe there is more to this when the evidences are offered finally. This Cuevas is really sneaky.
Senator-Judge Joker Arroyo, gently nudged the Prosecution and reminded them that private prosecutors were NOT ALLOWED to argue cases and or points but just to present evidence. Again, they had to eat humble pie.
A Senator-Judge, Chiz Escudero, stood up and asked exactly what the the level of culpability can bring about an impeachment of the Chief Justice, the prosecution waxed poetic but never gave a solid answer. The Prosecution and defense were asked to submit memoranda on this point.
This is the point were the fireworks began. It was AS IF (all caps because I don’t take anything at face value) all the Senator-Judges ganged up on the prosecution panel. On the side, Senator-Judge Loren Legarda was busy fiddling with her cellphone.
Senator-Judge Gringo Honasan. He brought up the point of media being “mas mabilis ang trial sa labas thru media kaysa sa loob ng senado!” While the senate was still discussing matters, the media already shows the evidences and the people are forced to make false assumptions (maybe even this poster, hahaha). He plead that this should stop. he also asked the Presiding Judge, Enrile, to put more teeth on the gag order. An immediate recess was called.
After the recess, Senator-Judge Jinggoy Estrada took the podium and said napanood nya sa ANC na ipinakikita ni Tupaz sa MEDIA ang isang dokumento purportedly release by LRA stating that the registered properties of the Coronas are 45…
It will be recalled that last January 12, 2012, thru a PRESS CON, the Prosecutors led by Niel Tupaz presented to MEDIA the documents that came from LRA showing specifically the Bellagio Towers papers.
On the first day of the trial, Prosecutor Miro Quimbo proudly waved files and papers supposedly from the Land Registration Authority purporting to prove that the Coronas had 45 properties to answer for.
Asked further who leaked all these to media, Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas Jr. flatly denied that the prosecutors claimed that Corona has 45 real estate properties. “We just want to put on record that the 45 did not come from the prosecution. It was a letter…” he said before being cut off due to loud groans from spectators inside the Senate. An all “who you kidding” grin broke out from Estrada.
Tupas said the 45 properties was included in a list issued by the Land Registration Authority. He said the prosecution will be presenting titles to 24 properties instead of 45 since the other real estate titles were canceled or sold.
As if on cue, across the hall in the briefing room, the prosecution panel called a hasty Press Conference. That was a bad mistake!
A lady reporter looking very angry said she was “very clear” when she asked Quimbo, on the first day of trial, if the prosecution stood by their information from the Land Registration Authority that Corona has 45 real estate properties.
“We will have to make that reckoning insofar as that recollection but that is not my recollection. If that is your recollection but be that as it may, we were very specific when we said that the violation by which the Chief Justice is accused for is the fact that there are properties that we have found out that he did not declare,” Quimbo said.
The reporter stood her ground and insisted Quimbo did announce it on the first day of hearings press conference. It took Quimbo a hell of a lot of explaining but to no avail. You could see the snickers of ALL the reporters in the room. Ang kapal talaga ng mukha ng mga ito. They just went on as if nothing wrong has happened.
The fight was solidly on media’s ground.
Back to the Senate Hall, the Prosecution tried to pull a fast one by asking permission from the Court to call in witness for Article Three of their complaints. Justice Cuevas rebutted that there were pending cross examinations before the court. Specifically, he was speaking of BIR Commissioner Kim Henares. he also stated that the Prosecution was trying to confuse them by jumping from one article to the other.
This served to remind Enrile that the BIR Commissioner still owed the Court the law she cited for undertaking all her actions against the Chief Justice where, if not produced, all her earlier testimony would be stricken off the record. JPE ruled that the Prosecution produce Kim Henares on Monday of next week.
So, how was the past three weeks of the Impeachment Hearings? The following is now obvious to this poster:
1. The evidences presented so far prove nothing.
2. That the trial is really not in the Senate Hall but out in the media.
3. That the Prosecution Panel is made up of dismal failures in the legal world.
4. That the Defense Panel (all of them to a man) know what they are doing and act with finesse at all times. Should I say breeding?
5. I will not place my bet on any of the Senator-Judges, no matter what they say, to vote according to their conscience. Let us not forget that this is more of a political ploy rather than a legal fight.
6. This hearing will be long and protracted and everyday is an opportunity for the Prosecution to persecute the Chief Justice in media.
7. The turn of the Defense is still far away and meanwhile we are getting impatient.