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Prosecution gropes at impeachment trial in Senate

The impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona has started last Monday (January 16) and is expected to go on for months. But this early, it looks like the prosecution is fumbling with its request for postponements and presentation of unverified documents.

The start of the proceedings last Monday was marked with formality and civility with the accused Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona even attending. On Tuesday, the trial took only two hours after the prosecution asked for a postponement.

Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. said the prosecution is not ready to present evidence and witnesses for Article 1 but it is ready for Article 2.

Barzaga also said that the prosecution was not prepared to present witnesses but only “certified true copies” or “computer-generated documents” of land titles of Corona’s alleged assets.

Defense counsel and retired Justice Serafin Cuevas said that they were not ready to cross-examine any witnesses or evidence to be presented in line with Article 2, as they had, for their part, prepared for Article 1.

Article 2 of deals with the nondisclosure of the Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN) of Corona, and with his alleged ill-gotten wealth.  Article 1 pertains to partiality and subservience in cases involving the Arroyo administration from the time he was appointed as associate justice to the time of his midnight appointment as chief justice in 2010.

In the end, the senators called for the proceedings to be suspended, while ordering the prosecuting panel to submit a new and final schedule for their case.

Prosecution panel spokesman Marikina Rep. Miro Quimbo, in a press briefing afterwards, said the postponement was all part of “growing pains” for the impeachment process.

“We did say very early on that because this is an extraordinary process, that there will be mistakes. Not everything is clear,” Quimbo said. “We also said that that’s the burden of the prosecution. We get to present first, but we also bear the brunt of the growing pains.”

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, as presiding officer of the impeachment court, approved the prosecution motion to issue subpoenas to the register of deeds of Makati, Taguig, Marikina, Paranaque and Quezon City.

The senators however thumbed down on the motion to subpoena Corona and his relatives.