MANILA, Philippines – Former Senator and now Muntinlupa Rep. Rodolfo Biazon said there is enough evidence to impeach Chief Justice Renato Corona for betrayal of public trust despite his own failure to sign the impeachment complaint against the chief magistrate.
Biazon said he did not sign the impeachment complaint at the House of Representatives caucus last December 12 because he did not have enough time to study it.
He added that the rush in getting the one-third vote needed to transmit the complaint to the Senate factored in his decision not to endorse the complaint.
“I did not sign because I thought the awesome power to impeach anybody must be regarded with care, with caution. What if we make a mistake? If we had one hearing or two, maybe the formulation of the Articles of Impeachment and the availability of pieces of evidence that would support each article would have been better,” he told ANC’s Tamano Perspective.
He said, however, that the evidence presented in the impeachment trial later convinced him that there is reason to impeach Corona.
“Had we been shown the Articles of Impeachment and the supporting pieces of evidence, I would have signed. With the evidence presented, I am convinced,” he said.
CJ trial better than Erap’s
Biazon, who sat as one of the judges in Estrada’s impeachment trial, said the Corona impeachment proceedings are better than in the Erap trial.
For one thing, he said senators in Corona’s trial can look back to the Senate’s own experience in the first impeachment trial.
“[There was a] learning process. This second [impeachment] learned from the first one. In the first one, we were groping to some degree,” he said.
He also noted Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile is a huge factor in making sure the impeachment trial is credible.
“Hands-on siya. He knows what he is doing. That is what makes it better than the first one,” he said.
Biazon said he used the word “gobbledygook” when arguments in the Estrada impeachment trial got too technical or too legal.
He said that as a non-lawyer, his view coming into the Estrada trial was that of a layman.
“I was a soldier coming into the Senate. My view at the time was from a view of a layman. So when they started questioning the admissibility of the second envelope, I said: ‘Wow, all they have to do is show it to us. Hindi ko pa nakita e. All they have to do is show it.’
“So because of the legal exchanges that I could hardly put together, I said ‘let's do away with this legal gobbledygook.’”
Verdict must be acceptable
Biazon said Corona’s testimony in the impeachment trial would be very important for his defense. He admitted, however, that there would be risks involved.
“There is importance if the Chief Justice will testify…but we also have to consider the rights. We cannot force it,” he said.
“It will probably be dangerous for him because when questions are asked by the senator-judges depending on their political leanings, frame of mind, sentiments, questions will be asked and if what the Chief Justice testifies will be disproved by documents, that is going to damage him,” he added.
Biazon noted that as a quasi-legal, quasi-political exercise, there is no escaping the political elements in the impeachment trial.
“We cannot completely divorce the political elements but the dominant factor should be the legal aspect. I would go for the evidence presented, rather than the political,” he said.
He noted: “I do hope at the end of the day when the final vote is taken, whatever the result would be, it would be credible enough for our people to accept the decision.”