Drilon, Tatad clash over pro-prosecution controversy

by Jojo Malig, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Jan 19 2012 10:05 PM | Updated as of Jan 20 2012 06:30 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Senator Franklin Drilon and former Senator Kit Tatad engaged in a heated argument on the sidelines of the impeachment trial of Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona at the Senate on Thursday.

Tatad, who was in the audience, accused Drilon of acting like a part of the prosecution team.

"Why? What's your problem? You disqualify me, you disqualify me!" Drilon allegedly replied, according to Tatad.

Tatad told media that while senator-judges can ask questions, they should not help either prosecutors or defense lawyers in squeezing information from witnesses.

Tatad, according to witnesses, accused Drilon of "going out of line."

"Nagkaroon kami ng kaunting sagutan ni Senator Drilon, " said the former senator and information minister of the Marcos government.

He said he considers Drilon as a friend because he was Senate majority leader while the latter was Senate president.

"Ang sabi ko, you are doing a good job pero you're beginning to sound like you're a member of the prosecution," Tatad told dzMM.

Drilon also then allegedly told Tatad to join the defense panel.

"Ang sabi ko, I'm not here to sit with the defense panel. I'm here to write a book on the impeachment," Tatad said.

The incident happened during a recess in the trial.

Drilon later declined to discuss the issue with media.

"Ayaw ko nang ikuwento. Maliit na bagay iyon. Let's talk about the impeachment trial," he told dzMM.

Drilon also declined to give his opinion why prosecutors had difficulties in the first few days of the trial. "Siguro, sa kanila mo na lang tanungin."

Drilon explains SALN request

He said he had to ask for Corona's statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALNs) from Supreme Court Clerk of Court Enriqueta Vidal on Wednesday because it was required by the impeachment court.

"Kaya ko po hiningi iyan, iyan ang hiningi ng husgado. May subpoena. Kaya tinanong ko kung dala niya [Vidal] iyung dokumentong hiningi ng husgado," he said.

"Hindi ko alam na dala niya eh," Drilon said. "Sa mga unang interview, sinabi niya na hindi niya dala."

"Ako'y nagtanong lamang. Sinabi ko na kung hindi ka pinapayagan ng Korte Suprema na dalhin iyung SALN ni Chief Justice, susundin mo ba ang utos ng impeachment court," he said.

"Sinabi niya, 'dala ko na ngayon,'" he added.

"Nagulat din ako," Drilon said.

He said he issued the questions for the impeachment court and not the prosecution.

"Wala pong relasyon iyon sa prosecution," he said.

The defense panel, meanwhile, said Drilon acted like a part of the prosecution because of his line of questioning of witnesses.

Atty. Jose M. Roy III, one of Corona's lawyers, said the defense panel will either file a complaint before the Supreme Court or ask Drilon to inhibit if he commits "grave abuse of discretion." - with reports from Jing Castañeda, ABS-CBN News; dzMM