Continued from Why we need to be so hard on the prosecutors (Part 1/2)
Another tactic that is backfiring on the Prosecution team is the extensive use of media outlets to air their side or present their “evidence”. In fact, the public seems to know more of what is going on and what will happen in Court even beforethe Defense team has seen and evaluated the evidence and even before it has been brought to the impeachment court.
This places the Defense team at a disadvantage and it is actually against the rules of court. The proper place to present evidence and to talk about the proceedings is in the courtroom, wherein both sides can discuss what is being shown or presented. This is to ensure fairness, since it allows the Defense to object or explain their side at the time that something is brought up.
This is the reason why time and again, the Prosecution team has been berated by the Senator Judges. Senate President Enrile has reiterated the need to stop discussing the merits of the case with the media.
They set our expectation high
Senator Lacson has commented on the “fast break” of the Prosecution team in handling the case.
One problem with the Prosecution team is that they first announce all their grandiose plans. For example, they announced that Corona had over 40 properties in his name. Next, they also said that they had 100 witnesses. They have also been quoted saying that they would be done with their presentation of evidence before the Holy Week begins.
This sets a very high bar of expectation with the public.
However, by the time they get to Court, they can’t keep up with their statements and promises. First, they could only come up with about half of the number of properties that Corona is supposed to have. The deeds they found also included parking lots.
Second, they had to backtrack on their 100 witnesses. As it is, some of the witnesses they have put on the stand have literally backfired on them, such as the testimony of the Megaworld exec who ended up discussing the price adjustment of the Bellagio unit because of damage to the unit.
They can’t seem to back up their claims when it is tested in the impeachment court and this makes them look like fools.
Poor presentation of evidence and witnesses
The senators have time and again reprimanded the Prosecution team for their poor presentation of evidence. They put on stand a witness they did not prepare, who ended up giving a testimony for the Defense. This made them the laughing stock of the media and the public since the Prosecution basically did the Defense team a favor by invalidating their own evidence and testimony.
Next, many documents they brought in to court have not been marked, wasting the court’s time with such tediousness.
Most recently, they presented a witness who was irrelevant to the third article of impeachment. This was the testimony of PAL vice President of Sales, Enrique Javier, who was supposed to discuss how Corona and his wife got PAL perks. These are just some of their mistakes.
Even the very impartial Senate President Enrile had to comment on their style of questioning their witnesses. “I even aid them now and then by asking questions because the manner by which they grill their witnesses is really objectionable. Sometimes, it seems I am already acting on their side as their lawyer so they cannot say I am biased against the House of Representatives,” said Enrile.
Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago has been very vocal with her complaints regarding the behavior of the Prosecution team in court. “The prosecutors should think for themselves why the judges are upset over their performance. They do not study! If they were school boys, I should be spanking their bottoms with a ruler because they are not doing their homework.”
Yes we should
We should hold the prosecutors to a very high standard because impeaching someone is a very serious matter. This is a man’s life on the line and the accusations are very serious.
You cannot make accusation against someone, cause severe distress to a person, put his entire career and credibility on the line, shame a man, ruin his family and make him out to be the most corrupt and most unqualified person on the land without proof and due process.
The burden of proof in any case has always been with the Prosecution team, which is why they have more work than the Defense team.
The impeachment of a Supreme Court Chief Justice has many repercussions. As it is, we are rewriting the laws of the land and the actions in the Senate will set a precedent for future impeachment cases. If this is handled sloppily, we may see a slew of unfounded impeachment complaints. This would then bog down the Senate by transforming it into a clean up crew of the government, rather than an arm of government that makes laws.
Therefore, we should be allowed to see the truth of these accusations as well as the credibility of the people making these accusations and hold the Prosecution accountable for their actions.
If truth and justice were on their side, then they shall be successful in their efforts. If not, they can kiss their reelection goodbye.
Photo from Philippine Senate. Some rights reserved.