MANILA, Philippines - Chief Justice Renato Corona is not throwing in the towel, contrary to the impression given by his sudden exit from the impeachment court on Tuesday, one of his lawyers said on Wednesday.
Amid accusations of role-playing by the chief justice, defense counsel Dennis Manalo said the trial of Corona has now become a medical issue that should not be downplayed.
In an interview with ANC, Manalo said “he [Corona] asked to be excused. The situation really is a medical issue. So to me, if there’s a medical issue, who’s in the best position to explain but the doctors.”
Some quarters have questioned the unceremonious exit of Corona in yesterday’s proceedings, saying the chief magistrate walked out, disrespected the court, and refused to be cross-examined.
His doctor and son-in-law Constantino Castillo, yesterday said Corona suffered from hypoglycemia. As of posting, the chief justice was still in the intensive care unit (ICU) of The Medical City in Pasig due to a possible heart attack.
Manalo said the defense team knew the repercussions of the incident yesterday. He said he himself was so frustrated that “fate was not with us.”
“It’s quite unfortunate at this point, when we feel we have already gained momentum. It’s so frustrating to go through that kind of experience,” he said.
Manalo said one thing is for sure, Corona is not giving up.
“My assessment is, this guy is not going to throw in the towel. Even against the wishes of his doctors and his family, he will fight this through to the end,” he said.
Corona took the witness stand on Tuesday in a bid to convince the public and the Senate impeachment court of his innocence.
In his prefaratory statement, Corona said he appeared in his impeachment trial as he had promised to the public, as well as to fight the administration which, he claimed, has been persecuting him.
He criticized President Benigno Aquino several times in his statement. He said one of the reasons for his impeachment was due to the wrath of a “hacienderong Pangulo,” referring to an earlier decision of the Supreme Court to distribute the Cojuangco-owned sugar estate in Tarlac.
Manalo said it was explained to them that five minutes before the end of Corona’s statement, the chief magistrate was already feeling disoriented and was about to throw-up.
“He could not wait for the ruling anymore, it was quite unfortunate it happened that way…sana nakapagpaalam,” he said.
Manalo said he tried talking to the chief magistrate at that point, but a certain “Dr. Banzon” at the Senate asked him not to anymore. “Maybe the doctor was already sensing there was a [possible heart attack].”
Corona then went towards the basement after coming from the Senate plenary hall. Manalo said, however, that “there’s a protocol in so far as the SC security is concerned. They know that if the CJ leaves a room, magra-radyo na agad ang mga yan.”
He said it is easy to determine if Corona is lying. “You ask the Senate doctor and Medical City.”
Host Pinky Webb asked Manalo: “Why did CJ consult his son-in-law first?” Manalo answered: “If you have a relative doctor, who would you ask first? It’s only natural that you go to your family first.”
It is very likely that Corona will not be able to go to the Senate today amid a warning from an irate Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile. Yesterday, Enrile said Corona should return or the Senate will already decide sans his testimony.
“There are provisions in the rules for a postponement, we are constrained to invoke [that] even if there will be a tremendous impact on our case,” he said.
While senators have postponed sessions in the past for humanitarian reasons, “we are now at their mercy,” he said.
“Even if we get a postponement, we don’t know how it will affect the case as a whole,” he said.
Manalo asked the public to wait for Corona to finish his defense.