Prosecutors urge Corona to go on leave

by RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 27 2011 03:22 PM | Updated as of Dec 28 2011 07:12 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Impeachment prosecution panel has asked Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Renato Corona to go on leave pending his impeachment trial before the Senate.

Panel spokesman Rep. Miro Quimbo said, “It is incumbent on him to go on leave so that the SC as an institution cannot be further dragged, misused or abused by the respondent. Nakikita na natin iyan, we see the spokesman [Midas Marquez] of the SC constantly talking and defending the Chief Justice who is being sued in his individual capacity.”

Quimbo also took exception to Corona’s failure to sign and verify the answer filed by his legal defense team, saying the lack of verification may weaken the reply as it makes him unaccountable for any falsehoods in the response.

“The answer isn’t verified. If you look at the answer of the Chief Justice,  it's not verified. Verification gives the paper a degree of accountability. Di mo pwedeng basta ituro ang mga abugado dahil di ka nakapirma. Nakapagtataka [kung bakit] di nila vinerify," he added.

Quimbo, however, said the rules of the Senate say nothing about this.

Quimbo also told the courts not to let the Corona impeachment trial disrupt the wheels of justice.

“I urge other members of the judiciary to understand that the wheels of justice need to keep turning. All employees should keep doing their job. Matanda na sila, alam na nila dapat nila gawin," he said.

The prosecution panel also thumbed down calls for a gag order. Quimbo said “the public needs to know what’s happening since they are the actual complainants.”

Mario Bautista is lead private prosecutor

Quimbo also formally announced the appointment of lawyer Mario Bautista as lead private prosecutor. Bautista,he said, will be serving probono.

Bautista was also a private prosecutor in the impeachment trial of then-President Joseph Estrada.

Quimbo said other private prosecutors will be hired, but their names will be undisclosed for now.

Quimbo maintains no lawyer from the CVC Law firm is part of the private prosecution panel.

The chief justice’s reply is now being studied by the prosecution panel so it can respond within the 5-day deadline.

'CJ being made to account'

Quimbo also disputed some points in Corona’s answer. He denied the impeachment complaint is as an attack on the whole judiciary, as it is intended to strengthen the judiciary by holding its chief accountable.

He also denied there was a procedural lapse in the verification of the signatures of the congressmen-endorsers, saying the defense has to prove this.

He maintains the prosecution has more than enough endorsers. 

Quimbo also maintained that all the grounds for impeaching the chief justice have been amply discussed in Congress so nothing has been rushed.

Quimbo said it is Corona who is on a blitzkrieg by rushing the issuances of restraining orders and status quo ante orders.