MANILA - Veterans from the impeachment trial of former Chief Justice Renato Corona may be included in the prosecution team against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, House Justice Committee Chair Reynaldo Umali said Tuesday.
Umali, who might be the lead prosecutor of the House of Representatives, confirmed former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, who presided over the Corona trial, will play a role though the details are being worked out.
"He has already expressed his willingness to be part of the team. Wala pang definition of what will be the role he has confirmed that subject to final confirmation," he told reporters.
Umali also named Corona trial veterans Biboy Malaya, who was with the prosecution, and Tranquil Salvador and Dennis Manalo, who were with the defense.
"For one they are litigators. I'm sure they know their law. They know their case, they know their evidence...Yung sinasabi ni Chief Justice, sinasabi ng camp niya na wala kaming kaso, di naman siguro sasama ito kung sa tingin nila walang kaso. I think they will be able to help a lot, assist us when it comes to the prosecution when it reaches that point," he said.
Umali said these lawyers will participate in the impeachment trial on a voluntary and pro-bono basis.
Asked about veteran lawyer Estelito Mendoza, Umali said there has been no feedback yet because he "handles cases on a professional basis not so much as volunteers."
Aside from these, they are also looking at who among the congressmen may serve as public prosecutors.
“May caucus kami, I think Wednesday. Ire-raise ko ito para matapos kami dito...Ang criteria namin is that kailangan lawyer, kailangan litigator, and preferably with experience in the past impeachment trial. Yung 3 yun, and then discipline kasi iba-iba ito, gaya ng psychiatric, baka merong medico legal kami o kaya merong expert sa amin," he said,
"If not siguro we’ll get it from private counsels or prosecutors," he added, pointing out that the vice chairs of the committee enjoy an advantage.
The vice chairpersons of the committee are Representatives Vicente Veloso, Doy Leachon, Henry Oaminal, Arnulfo Fuentebella and Strike Revilla. Revilla, however, is not a lawyer.
The House may deploy as many as 11 congressmen as prosecutors in an impeachment trial. They may also employ private prosecutors as needed and these will serve under the command and supervision of the public prosecutors.
Umali also rebutted criticism from 15th Congress House Justice Committee Chair Niel Tupas on the slowness of the committee in transmitting the complaint.
"It's not just a matter of making certain conclusions, voting on whether she should be impeached or not at the same time. 'Yung time ni Cong. Junjun Tupas, kasi wala kami ganito, di dumaan sa committee kaya ngayon isa sa in-establish namin in the course of this proceeding is to define exactly what the impeachment process is all about at the committee on justice," he added.
The Umali-led committee last week ruled that there was enough grounds to impeach Sereno. Their group is expected to meet again on Monday for the approval of the committee report.