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Corona impeachment trial enters 3rd week

The impeachment trial of Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona is about to enter its third week in the Senate with no one party appearing to have an upper hand.

Characterized by delays and lack of structure, the trial is still tackling Article 2 of the impeachment complaint, which says Corona committed culpable violation of the Constitution and/or betrayed public trust when he failed to disclose to the public his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth as required under Section 17, Article 11 of the 1987 Constitution.

During the first week of the trial, the prosecution was seen as groping in the dark as it appeared not ready to tackle Article 1 of the impeachment complaint. Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas Jr. also drew criticism, as he appeared unprepared to present the case during the second day of the impeachment trial.

Meanwhile, defense lead counsel Serafin Cuevas drew praise with the way he has been defending Corona and attacking the prosecution’s case. The retired Supreme Court Associate Justice manifested his deep knowledge of the Rules of Court and Rules of Evidence, especially when he raised objections or made manifestations.

On its second week, Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago liven up the impeachment trial, dressing down Tupas for not knowing exactly how many witnesses and pieces of documentary evidence the prosecution planned to present. She also admonished private prosecutor Arthur Lim for questioning her authority.

The prosecution panel also got the ire of Defensor-Santiago who pointed out that BIR chief Kim Henares cannot testify beyond the authenticity of the documents as she was being presented as ordinary witness and not an expert witness.

During the continuation of the impeachment trial, Henares said that her agency found out that Corona’s daughter Ma. Carla Constantino-Corona only had a taxable income of PhP8,476 in 2009, but was able to buy a lot in La Vista from her mother, Cristina, for PhP18 million in 2010.

When it was the defense team’s turn to cross-examine the witness, Cuevas mentioned that Charina was abroad for less than 10 years now. Cuevas then proceeded questioning the BIR chief about her appearance in the Senate as a witness for the prosecution in relation to her alleged ill-gotten wealth of the Chief Justice.

Cuevas also asked if Henares got an order from President Aquino to testify and crush Corona. Henares quickly denied the accusation.