House prosecutors declare Holy Week ceasefire

By Jess Diaz, The Philippine Star

Posted at Apr 03 2012 09:42 AM | Updated as of Apr 03 2012 09:53 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Congressmen-prosecutors of impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona promised yesterday to desist from making any statements this week about his Senate impeachment trial.

“There are no statements from us for the entire week. We are declaring a unilateral Holy Week ceasefire with the camp of CJ Corona,” prosecution spokesman Rep. Miro Quimbo of Marikina said.

He said the ceasefire had the approval of Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr.

“We will resume our weekly briefings next week,” he said.

Corona’s trial is currently on recess. It will resume when Congress reconvenes on May 7.

Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara, another prosecution spokesman, said the defense during Holy Week should ponder on the results of both the Pulse Asia and Social Weather Stations (SWS) surveys on Corona’s impeachment.

He said both surveys show that the people believe in the strength of the evidence the prosecution has presented against Corona.

“That is the basis for the preponderant opinion in favor of conviction for the respondent Chief Justice,” he said.

According to Pulse Asia, 47 percent of the people want the Senate impeachment court to convict Corona. In the SWS poll, those favoring conviction make up 73 percent.

Defense lawyers have belittled the survey results, saying popularity can easily melt like ice cream.

Earlier, Angara said the surveys suggest that Corona’s lawyers should do better than “beat around the bush” in their presentation of their client’s defense.

“The message of the surveys to them is that they should present a more credible defense and answer the charges directly. The first two weeks of presentation of their case was full of holes,” he said.

“They spent their first two days by questioning the impeachment process in the House of Representatives, an issue that the impeachment tribunal had resolved on Day One of the trial,” he said.

He said no less than widely respected constitutionalist and law lecturer Fr. Joaquin Bernas had criticized Corona’s lawyers for “beating a dead horse” by resurrecting the issue.

Failing to assail the impeachment process, defense lawyers then proceeded to present testimonies which hardly explained the impeachment charges against the Chief Justice, he added.

“There is no explanation yet on the P31 million found in three bank accounts of CJ Corona as of Dec. 31, 2010. That huge amount was not declared in his 2010 statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN),” he stressed.