As impeachment proceedings resume on Monday, defense lawyers announce that there is still no decision on whether Chief Justice Renato Corona or his wife Cristina will take the witness stand.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer Online quoted spokesperson Karen Jimeno saying that Corona still has no decision but the couple would testify “if they felt this was necessary.”
But defense lawyer Tranquil Salvador said there is actually no pressing need to present the Coronas since the prosecution has allegedly “failed to establish an impeachable offense.”
The defense team had already lined up 10 witnesses but is still hoping for Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to appear on the witness stand on Monday amid the prosecution filing a motion to quash the subpoena issued by the impeachment court. The prosecution argued that the defense had already cross-examined her for two hearing days on similar issues.
But defense lawyer Rico Paolo Quicho said, “We hope we can be given a chance to present Secretary De Lima before the impeachment court and show the whole story” since De Lima’ earlier testimony was only about Associate Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno’s dissenting opinion.
He added, “We want to show that the Chief Justice did not exert his influence and did not meddle in the issuance by the Supreme Court of the TRO.”
“She would be asked too why she failed to file the case against the ex-President and what was the reason why they filed the case only after two years. Why blame the Chief Justice for the failure of filing a case against the former president?” Quicho said.
On the other hand, the prosecution said in its motion, “By attempting to recall Secretary de Lima through a Request for Subpoena Ad Testificandum Et Duces Tecum, the Defense is not only making a mockery out of our legal procedure but is also transgressing the precept of fair play well-entrenched in our adversarial legal system. More abhorrently, this delaying tactic of the Defense serves no purpose but to frustrate the administration of justice to the prejudice of both the this Honorable Impeachment Court and the Filipino people.”
Meanwhile, among the 10 witnesses is former manila Mayor Lito Atienza who will return to the witness stand regarding the purchase of a land owned by Basa-Guidote Enterprises Inc. which is owned by the relatives of Cristina Corona.
The defense lawyers will also present a tax expert, according to Manila Bulletin Online. The website said their source did not identify the witness except that he is a former official of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and a tax lecturer with extensive knowledge on the subject.
It is speculated that he will explain Corona’s statement of assets, liabilities and net worth.
Salvador declined to reveal the other witnesses lined up for the defense.
Sen. Franklin Drilon said he would propose that the impeachment court set a deadline for the handing down of the verdict before the June 7 adjournment.
“We can’t let this go beyond this adjournment. The schedule is under the control of the court. We will not be unreasonable,’’ he told media.