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  1. 1. Day 22 Umali told the Senate impeachment trial that a “small lady” whose existence he admitted he could not prove handed him the bank documents in an envelope. Banal, on the other hand, claimed his copy was slipped under the gate of his home.The bank records were used by the prosecution team in the ongoing impeachment trial of Corona as evidence that he was not truthful in his declaration of his wealth in the Statement of Assets Liabilities and Net worth. Asked for his reaction, Umali said it is the minority’s prerogative to file a complaint. “That would be unfortunate but that’s within their prerogative. I hope they will not violate my right and damage my integrity or credibility because they may be made liable therefore under Article 19 of the Civil Code among other laws,” Umali said in a text message. As soon as it started, Senator-Judge Miriam Defensor-Santiago spoke on the due process and equal protection clauses of the Constitution’s Bill of Rights. She was particular about the Impeachment Court’s denial of the presentation of the Philippine Airlines’ Vice-President’s testimony. Santiago underlined that she supported the court’s denial of the testimony of the PAL VP. She reminded everyone that the accused should be informed of the accusations against him, and that the court cannot admit testimony or evidence of any witness regarding an allegation not in the complaint. She drew parallelism between this trial and that of former president Joseph Estrada’s impeachment hearings in 2001. We noticed that Senator-Judge Jinggoy Estrada was all ears as the feisty lady senator was speaking.Prosecutor-Congressman Representative Giordigi Aggabao took the floor and manifested on the “proffer of proof” and continued to say that PAL VP for sales was the last witness in connection with the FASAP case covered in Article III. Aggabao announced that they will no longer be presenting evidence and witnesses related to the three remaining charges in Article III: The “excessive entanglement” with former president Gloria Arroyo; the alleged use of public funds for personal use; and the alleged discussion of cases with litigants. He clarified that the prosecution was “waiving, excising” the said portions of the article since there was no longer need for them. Senator-Judges Francis Escudero and Santiago asked whether the prosecution was dropping all other charges and actually closing Article 3 of the complaints. Prosecutor- Aggabao reiterated the prosecution’s position and said that Article 3 was closed with finality. Aggabao informed the court that they were ready to move on to Article VII – that the respondent betrayed the public trust through his partiality in granting a temporary restraining order in favor of former President Arroyo even without life and death urgency and even without all conditions set by the Supreme Court being met. Senator-Judge Enrile also clarified what the prosecution will do with Articles IV, V, and VI, and Representative Niel Tupas reiterated the earlier proposed sequence submitted by the prosecution and agreed to by the court.Prosuctor Representative Neri Colmenares laid the “road map” for Article VII. Lead Prosecutor Serafin Cuevas objected to the manifestation but Presiding-Judge Enrile clarified that the prosecution was only laying a summary of what they will be presenting in Article VII.Prosecutor Representive Raul Daza handled the chores for the prosecution and called their first witness, Department of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima who arrived at the Senate grounds with a phalanx of security guards.De Lima was asked about her duties as DOJ chief and her specific functions in implementing hold departure orders and watchlist orders. The DOJ chief explained the circumstances surrounding the watch list orders she issued against the former president, as well as the denial for the lifting of the Hold Departure Orders. Other questions were asked on the “conspiracy” of the justices and Corona’s control over the court. This was objected to Prosecution Daza but Cuevas reformulated the question. He asked whether eight justices voting
  2. 2. one way constituted a conspiracy and she replied to the negative. She, however, clarified her answer that there were attenuating circumstances such as the Serena and Carpio dissents.Cuevas then requested to continue cross examination on the following day due to the lateness of the hour. This was granted. Majority Leader Sotto stated that several Senator-Judges were also lined up to question the DOJ Secretary.What did we gather in today’s hearing. Simply stated we have selectibe justice in this country where the so-called “sins of 8″ can be the cause of the impeachment of one man! Day 23 Senator-judge Joker Arroyo questioned the role of private prosecutor Marlon Manuel, a lawyer of the Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA), saying the latter has ―vested … interests other than prosecuting the case‖ against impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona. Akbayan Rep. Kaka Bag-ao told Arroyo that there is no conflict of interest because Manuel is the counsel of PALEA and not FASAP, which are two different labor groups.Presiding officer and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile told senator-judges to disregard Justice Sec. Leila De Lima’s interpretation of the dissenting opinion of Associate Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno in the Supreme Court’s issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO), which almost resulted in ex- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo leaving the country last November.Enrile described the testimony as ―hearsay because the witness was not present‖ when the high court was deliberating on the issue.However, Enrile allowed De Lima’s narration of the facts based on Sereno’s dissenting opinion to remain in the Senate records. When asked by Senator-judge Alan Peter Cayetano if someone else told her that Corona might be trying to influence the high court's ruling on Mrs. Arroyo's watch list order, De Lima declined to answer and invoked executive privilege.Cayetano asked House prosecutor and Rep. Neri Colmenares a similar question, and hereplied that no one told them anything.Following the ruling of Enrile, Senator- judge Antonio Trillanes IV asked the court to send questions to Justice Sereno so she can shed light on the circumstances surrounding the TRO issued by the high court.Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III proposed that Trillanes’ motion be deliberated upon by the impeachment court in a caucus on Monday, which Enrile approved. De Lima, who had been at odds with Lacson when he was placed on the watch list, assured the court that she does not use her ―power for any political motives or political vendetta.‖ The Justice Department had placed Mrs. Arroyo on the watch list due to several plunder complaints and an electoral sabotage case filed against her last year. During the presentation of evidence on Article VII of the impeachment complaint, Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada asked the prosecution how many times Corona favored Mrs. Arroyo in cases pending before the Supreme Court.Northern Samar Rep. Raul Daza said their research showed that Corona voted in favor of Mrs. Arroyo in 31 cases, or about 80 per cent of the total number of cases involving the former president pending in the high court.Estrada asked why the prosecutors had to separate Article VII, which deals with the TRO favoring Mrs. Arroyo, from Article I, which accuses Corona of ―partiality and subservience‖ in cases involving the Arroyo administration. He said the two could have been merged into one article because they were similar in nature.Daza said the prosecution separated the two articles because some of the cases under Article I are still pending before the SC.
  3. 3. Day 24 Presiding officer and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile announced that during Monday’s caucus of the Senate sitting as an impeachment court, Senator-judge Antonio Trillanes IV withdrew his motion to send questions for Supreme Court Associate Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno by snail mail.As regards the prosecution’s ―motion for clarification‖ on Enrile’s ruling to disallow the testimony of a Philippine Airlines official, the presiding officer reiterated that the articles of impeachment cannot be expanded.Rep. Neri Colmenares, the lead House prosecutor for Article VII that accuses Chief Justice Renato Corona of betraying public trust through his alleged partiality in granting a temporary restraining order (TRO) in favor of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo last November, made a manifestation. Colmenares said Justice Secretary Leila De Lima was served a copy of the temporary restraining order (TRO) by two SC personnel who turned out to be a security guard and a driver. He lamented that although the two had been present in the Senate building, both were called back to the SC by their superiors. He asked the Senate to enforce its subpoenas because those SC employees would only be testifying on ―administrative matters‖ such as the time of service of TRO upon De Lima.Senator- judge Miriam Defensor-Santiago scolded the prosecution for prodding the Senate into a ―collision course‖ with the Supreme Court. She lectured the prosecution that in the same way that the Executive branch has ―executive privilege‖ and Congress has ―legislative privilege‖, the Judiciary has ―judicial privilege‖ or ―deliberative process privilege.‖Senator-judge Francis Escudero said the prosecutors themselves should invite Sereno instead of relying on the Senate’s compulsory processes because it was the ―duty of the prosecution to present its witnesses.‖Senator-judge Joker Arroyo expressed amazement when Colmenares claimed it was difficult to get witnesses to testify against the chief justice. The prosecution is backed by the President of the Philippines, the senator-judge noted. Cervantes was considered an ―ordinary witness‖ to establish Mrs. Arroyo’s medical certificate on October 1, 2011 — submitted to SC before the deliberations on the TRO against the watch list order that kept the Arroyo couple from leaving the country.Lim confirmed to defense lead counsel Serafin Cuevas that the medical certificate was connected to the SC TRO. House prosecutor Rep. Raul Daza conducted direct examination of Emma Abanador — Office of the Vice-President administrative officer. Prosecution was trying to establish Corona’s close ties with Arroyo even before he was appointed to the Supreme Court in 2002.Private prosecutor Al Parreño conducted the direct examination of ABS-CBN cameraman Edmond Losalla, who authenticated three ―raw‖ videos that include the SC’s Nov. 15, 2011 press conference on the issuance of the TRO and an interview with Arroyo’s legal counsel Ferdinand Topacio. Cuevas argued Losalla’s statements were ―immaterial and irrelevant‖ to the case, and that the video showing SC spokesperson and court administrator Jose Midas Marques was ―not binding on the Supreme Court.‖ Cuevas also
  4. 4. noted the video showing a bag of P1-million cash simply reflected the payment of the cash bond as one of the conditions set in the TRO.Senator-judge Loren Legarda concurred with Cuevas that the video was ―not very relevant or material at this point.‖ She requested for a transcript of the video because some portions were inaudible. Day 25 Private prosecutor Claro Mamaril conducted the direct examination of Gatbonton who, in turn, authenticated Corona’s service records and his appointment as chief justice in relation to Article VII, which accuses Corona of betraying public trust through his partiality to former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.Piedad testified he shot the video of former President Arroyo’s arrival at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on Nov. 15, 2011. That video was afterwards shown on a projection screen at the Senate session hall. Parreño asked the defense panel to stipulate on the authenticity of the video but lead defense counsel Cuevas, who had just arrived, refused and asked to be given time before cross-examining the cameraman. In response, Parreño said that following the Rules on Electronic Evidence, the prosecution would then have to call to the witness stand the custodian of the compact flash (CF) card of the video. Parreño conducted the direct examination of ABS-CBN video librarian Rochelle Inoncillo-Mendez, who authenticated the video recording of the attempt of former President Macapagal-Arroyo and her husband Jose Miguel to leave the country on Nov. 15, 2011, and the circumstances surrounding the Supreme Court’s issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the watch list order against the Arroyo couple.Mendez confirmed she was the custodian who received the CF or CompactFlash cards containing the video footage, including the press conferences of Supreme Court spokesman Midas Marquez talking about the TRO on Nov. 15, 16, and 21. Senator-judge Jinggoy Estrada asked prosecution how many more witnesses they would present for Article VII. House lead prosecutor Rep. Niel Tupas replied that prosecution was done presenting witnesses. Senator-judge Loren Legarda grilled Parreño on prosecution’s purpose in showing the video footage of the bag containing P2 million that was brought to the SC for the Arroyo couple’s cash bond Lead House prosecutor Rep. Niel Tupas Jr. announced that his panel would no longer present evidence on the five other articles of impeachment against the chief justice, saying they ―havealready presented a strong case‖ and evidence to ―suffice to convict Corona for betrayal of public trust.‖ He confirmed to Enrile that the prosecution would ―stand or fall‖ on the bases of the following three articles of impeachment But Tupas said the prosecution reserved the right to present evidence on Corona’s dollar account once the TRO issued by the SC is lifted. He recalled that the prosecution has thus far presented 25 witnesses and marked 395 documents in support of three impeachment articles, and that his panel would then choose which to formally offer as evidence to the impeachment court. The presiding officer initially wanted the prosecution to file a motion on the dropping of the articles, but Senator-judge Joker
  5. 5. Arroyo said a formal notice would do instead — which Enrile instructed the prosecution to file as regards the dropping of the following five impeachment articles Day 26 Being taught on a daily basis by Senator-Judges on the way to handle court cases and to present their witnesses and evidence did have some use to an otherwise unlearned viewer Probably realizing that their inutile efforts were not being gobbled up by the court whole, stock and barrel, they created a new front ….. the took to the Fourth Estate with a passion. The media was used to not only present their case but to even question the validity and propriety of the the Court’s rulings. Two to three press conferences were held on a daily basis not even counting the presidential spokesman’s (Lacierda) daily broadcast pronouncement all favoring the Prosecution. The newspapers were also used with paid columnists (not all) who mouthed the very same lines dished out by the Administration and the prosecution. In all of these, there is a gleam of hope. The social networks took up the battle for the embattled Defense and deflected the blows being belted out by the prosecution. This was volunteerism at its finest! From graphic arts to actual contrary evidence were being in the various social networking sites. These certainly hit its mark. facebook, twitter and blogs were all filled with statements that begged to be listened to because of the truths they blared out.That this hit its mark cannot be denied. A case in point is Lead Prosecutor Representative Tupaz’ and PSBank Tiongson’s denial that they never knew each other. Pictures were viraled that disproved their claim. Tupaz could no longer deny it claiming conveniently that he forgot all about it.The dividing line was created. The battle fronts were made clearer. Truth versus the untruths. In the order of business, the prosecution had its field day. The defense will now have its turn to controvert the evidence presented so far. In the meantime, more demolition programs by the administration is expected against Chief Justice Corona. It is not enough to have presented the case against him. He must be totally obliterated and ridiculed to shame. This is the objective.Now, we were faced by a lawyer that was never formally presented by the Prosecution who was caught insulting the court by closing his ears while a Senator-Judge was hyperventilating against the tyranny of the prosecution. Adding insult to injury, he (Atty. Aguirre) insisted that he meant to do what he did because he was sick and tired of being scolded by a learned jurist, Senator-Judge Miriam Defensor Santiago and the other Senator-Judges. I will not dare say what Aguirre could have possibly done to alleviate his hurting eardrums. The fact is he insulted the Senator-Judges and the Impeachment Court! We learned later that he is a lawyer attached to Meralco, a Lopez owned (partially now) company as ABS-CBN is. After 26 days and six weeks of continuous hearings, this whole exercise does take its toll on the mind and health of anyone who is forced by law to attend the hearings and listen to these inanities. Senator-Judge Miriam Defensor Santiago is no exception. The “covering of the ears” incident was the last straw. That she is human and gets affected by all these cannot be denied. That she has earned the respect of both the pro/con Corona and all the legal students cannot be denied. Yes, we even felt like students too and were very glad for the free lessons in law. Day 27
  6. 6. The impeachment court denied the defense team's request to subpoena several congressmen in connection with the verification of the impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Renato Corona. The defense lawyers have argued that the impeachment complaint signed by 188 members of the House of Representatives was done hastily. In rejecting the defense motion, the Senate gave weight to the House prosecution team’s argument that the impeachment process was done in accordance with its rules. Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III announced the impeachment court’s ruling that disallows the admission of evidence on the accusation that Corona allegedly received benefits from Philippine Airlines (PAL) while the company had cases pending before the high tribunal. The Senate reiterated its ruling denying the defense's motion to suppress evidence on Corona's bank accounts, which was announced last week. Enrile denied the motion of the defense panel for the impeachment court to formally dismiss Articles I, IV, V, VI, and VIII of the Articles of Impeachment, which had earlier been dropped by the prosecutors He narrated the events that transpired during the Dec. 12, 2011 caucus where Corona’s impeachment was discussed. Tiangco said House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. told the legislators that Corona should be impeached because of his closeness with former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who appointed him to the Supreme Court. Tiangco said he nearly signed the impeachment complaint because he did not want to displease President Benigno Aquino III. However, in the end, he decided not to sign because he had not read the complaint and he was not convinced of the probable cause for the impeachment of the chief justice. Enrile also ruled that Corona was not denied due process in the trial, saying the upper house had notified Corona about the impeachment complaint and in turn, the chief magistrate had submitted a response to the Senate.The court decided to cite defense lawyer Jose Roy III for indirect contempt for claiming at a press conference last month that Malacañang was urging senator-judges not to honor the Supreme Court order stopping them from examining Corona’s dollar accounts .Enrile said the penalty for Roy, who had claimed that Malacañang allotted P100 million for the projects of each senator-judge from government savings, will be determined in a caucus. Day 28 The defense panel presented Araceli Bayuga, chief disbursement officer of the Supreme Court, as its second witness to authenticate documents on the remuneration received by Chief Justice Renato Corona during his tenure. Her testimony is related to Article II of the impeachment complaint, which accuses the magistrate of failure to disclose certain properties in his Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN). In her testimony, Bayuga said Justice Corona received over P21 million in salaries and benefits during his stint in the Supreme Court from 2002 to 2011. Bayuga also belied the earlier testimony of Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) commissioner Kim Jacinto-Henares to the impeachment court that the SC did
  7. 7. not file an ―alpha list‖ -- a document submitted annually to the BIR which identifies all the employees whose income taxes are withheld – from 2002 to 2005. Bayuga produced copies of the SC’s alpha list for 2002 to 2005, which she said was released by the BIR. Lead defense counsel Serafin Cuevas presented Demetrio Vicente, 70, as their third witness to prove that seven parcels of land allegedly owned by Corona's wife Cristina in Marikina City were actually owned by Vicente. Corona has been accused of failing to declare the properties in his SALN. In his testimony, Vicente said he bought the property from Mrs. Corona in July 1990, and presented seven absolute deeds of sale to prove the transaction. However, he said the titles are still registered in the name of Mrs. Corona because he ran out of funds to get them transferred to his name. During cross examination, prosecutor Jose Justiniano cited a Feb. 21, 2012 certification to prove that the person who notarized the deed of sale was not an authorized notary public in Makati, where the transaction was done. The impeachment court reprimanded defense counsel Jose Roy III for claiming last month that Malacañang dangled a P100-million bribe for each senator-judge in the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Corona. Roy was earlier cited for indirect contempt for refusing to disclose the source of the information and to identify the senator-judges whom he said were approached by Malacañang. Day 29 Lead defense counsel Serafin Cuevas told the impeachment court that the last time the defense team saw the letter was before private prosecutor Jose Justiniano borrowed it. But when he asked Justiniano about the document after the proceedings, he said the prosecutor could not give a satisfactory answer. Continuing her earlier testimony, Supreme Court chief disbursing officer Araceli Bayuga said the magistrates are not required to liquidate their allowances, which are all given in cash. She said the only thing the SC Justices need to do is submit a certification, which is included in the payroll. Bayuga said the only taxable items are the salary, longevity pay, and yearend bonus in excess of P30,000 of each Justice. All the allowances are not taxed, she said. Senator-judge Antonio Trillanes IV questioned the relevance of Bayuga’s testimony, saying the defense panel seems to be ―reviving‖ Article 2.4 of the impeachment complaint on Corona’s alleged ill-gotten wealth, which the Senate had struck down. Senator-judge Alan Peter Cayetano expressed the same view, saying Bayuga’s testimony did not seem to be related to allegations on supposed inaccuracies in Corona’s statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN). The defense team presented two witnesses who testified that Corona received about P5 million in non-taxable allowances while serving as a member of electoral tribunals that handled poll protests against members of the Philippine Congress. Girlie Salarda, secretary of the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET), told the impeachment court that Corona received about P2.5 million in allowances and other benefits as a member of HRET from 2008 to 2009. Corona received an additional P855, 784.93 when he became HRET chair
  8. 8. from Nov. 6, 2009 to Feb. 27, 2010, according to Salarda. Meanwhile, Corona received almost P1.7 million in allowances during his 14-month tenure as member of the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) from 2008 to 2009, according to SET secretary Irene Guevarra. Day 30 Defense witnesses, including assessors of both Taguig and Quezon cities,testified that the Chief Justice accurately filed his properties in his statement of assets, liabilities, and net worth (SALN) in 2011. Engineer Roberto Villaruz, officer-in-charge of the Taguig City Assessor's Office, and a witness for the defense, submitted tax declarations for Corona's Bonifacio Ridge and Bellagio I properties. These documents were intended to show that the properties’ fair market and assessed values were the same ones reflected in Corona's SALN as of Dec. 31, 2010. Villaruz also submitted tax declarations on Corona's daughter Ma. Charina Corona's McKinley property, with defense lawyers asserting these proved that the property is not owned by the Chief Justice. If it were up to the prosecution, it’s acquisition cost. "The properties purchased [by Corona] have different values in terms of acquisition cost and in terms of market values as reflected (in the SALN). There being a discrepancy, acquisition cost is higher. Under the law, it is the duty of the Chief Justice in his sworn statement [to state] the actual value of the property," said private prosecutor Jose Benjamin Panganiban. But that didn’t prevent Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, the impeachment court’s presiding officer, from pointing out what the trial was all about. Several times, Enrile called the attention of both the prosecution and the defense for belaboring the entries on Corona’s SALN. “The only thing material here is if the Chief Justice included in his SALN his assets and liabilities. If he did not, then we go back to the Constitution. (It says that) a public official or employee shall upon assumption of office and as often as thereafter submit a declaration under oath of his assets, liabilities and net worth. Did he comply with this faithfully?...When you state under oath something, you must be factual and truthful, that is the issue, that’s all,” Enrile said.The debates on the Corona properties are expected to spill over to next week’s trial after the defense asked the impeachment court to summon the administrator of Land Registration Authority (LRA) and the records custodian of the City of Manila. In separate motions filed Thursday by former associate justice Serafin Cuevas, the defense counsel sought the testimonies of Atty. Eulalio C. Diaz III and Ms. Annielyn C. Moises, the LRA’s administrator and the Acting Record Officer of the City of Manila respectively, to testify and bring documents in the impeachment trial of Corona on March 19. Diaz’s testimony is expected to refute the prosecution claim that Corona owns 45 properties as alleged in Article II, paragraphs two and three of the articles of impeachment. If the defense’s request is granted, Diaz will be required to appear on March 19, 2012 and bring various documents, including a letter he wrote, dated January 10, 2012, addressed to Representative Niel Tupas enumerating the 45 properties allegedly owned by Corona. Also on Day 30, meanwhile, the prosecution returned one of the two "missing" documents from the defense belonging to witness Demetrio Vicente. Pangasinan 6th District Rep. Marlyn Primicias-Agabas said the handwritten letter of Cristina Corona was "inadvertently inserted" into the prosecution's files and announced that she is returning it to the defense.