CJ given until Friday to return

by Ira Pedrasa, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at May 23 2012 02:37 PM | Updated as of May 24 2012 07:02 AM

MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) - Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said the impeachment court may decide the case of Chief Justice Renato Corona on Tuesday.

He gave the defense the chance to present Corona, who is still in the hospital, until Friday at 2 p.m. to continue his testimony.

Enrile set the oral arguments for both parties on Monday. Both will be given an hour each to present their case. This means the prosecution will no longer provide any rebuttal evidence.

“This court will give you until Friday to cross your evidence, then we submit the case [for resolution]. On Monday, we schedule the oral arguments. It will depend on the court whether we submit our vote [after] or suspend to another day,” he said.

Cuevas had informed the court that Corona will not be able to return to the impeachment court until Monday next week due to his illness. He said Corona’s doctors were monitoring the chief justice for 48 hours after assessing a near “heart attack” last night.

Cuevas said he went to The Medical City Wednesday morning in an attempt to discuss the case with Corona, but physicians prohibited him from talking to his client.

However, he got an assurance from the family of the chief magistrate that “he is willing to be back in order to continue with his direct examination.”

Cuevas said the only “stumbling block” is Corona’s physical and mental situation. “We have no objection if a Senate doctor conducts [an examination] and submits a report.”

Cuevas added they got a medical report attesting to Corona’s medical condition. “We acknowledge the magnanimity and the over-liberality [of the Senate] in accommodating us, but the issue now is medical.”

No assurance

Enrile asked Cuevas for an assurance on when Corona would be able to return to the witness stand.

Cuevas said the chief magistrate may come back on Monday but there was “no assurance.”

This finally prompted Enrile to order the oral arguments on Monday.

Lead prosecutor Niel Tupas Jr. said they are willing to waive their right to cross-examine the magistrate.

Many observers 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 also suffered from hypoglycemia.

An irate Enrile had said Corona should return or the Senate will already decide the case sans his testimony.

Conditional Waiver

On Tuesday, Corona signed a waiver in open court allowing government agencies to look into his bank accounts to show he is not hiding anything.

He authorized all banks which have his and his wife's dollar and peso deposits to disclose whatever is needed by government agencies such as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), Land Registration Authority (LRA), and Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).

However, he asked all 188 impeachment complainants plus Senator Franklin Drilon to sign a similar waiver.

Escudero asked Cuevas on Wednesday if this was a conditional waiver. “I take it at all, without exceptions, that all should sign. That’s his condition?”

Cuevas answered: “That’s my understanding.”

Senator Jinggoy Estrada then asked Tupas if he was going to sign a waiver. The lead prosecutor said, “It’s not the issue here…We will not sign.”

Drilon also stood up and told the court: “I report all my assets in my SALN [Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net worth]. There is no requirement to open the bank accounts. Otherwise, this would be disastrous to the industry. Having said that, I will not sign a waiver.”

Drilon later reminded Cuevas that Corona mentioned he would be directing his defense to rest his case if all 189 individuals will not sign a waiver.

Cuevas said, “I have not received any [directions] until now.”

Drilon replied, “it was done in open court,” to which Cuevas said, “That’s futuristic.”