Impeachment court may hold weekend trial

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Friday, May 25, 2012

MANILA (Updated 10:23 a.m.) – The Senate, sitting as impeachment court, is ready to hold trial on Saturday and Sunday if there is a need, even as impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona is set to return to the witness stand at 2 p.m. on Friday despite his health condition.

Corona was admitted at The Medical City in Pasig Tuesday night after having difficulty in breathing and dizziness due to hypoglycemia or low blood sugar.

Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III said Senate President and Presiding Officer Juan Ponce Enrile has already set the oral arguments on Monday and vowed to come up with the court’s verdict on or before the May 31 deadline to finish the historic impeachment trial.

“The Senate President and the senator-judges are ready to work on Saturday and Sunday. We cannot extend this trial anymore,” Sotto said in radio dzRH interview on Friday morning.

Sotto explained the five-month impeachment trial has already affected the Senate legislative works.

“We can no longer prolong this trial. The country is bleeding due to this issue. Our legislative work is also suffering. We should stop the bleeding whether he (Corona) will testify or not,” Sotto said.

Doctors of Corona advised him not to go back to the witness stand due to his poor health condition, but he defied this, signing a waiver just to respond to the impeachment court’s ultimatum for him to return to the witness stand within 48 hours.

Sotto admitted that Corona impressed the senator-judges when he signed a waiver authorizing government entities to open all his peso and dollar deposits but everything changed when he set a condition asking the 188 House of Representatives complainants and Senator-Judge Franklin Drilon to also sign the same waiver.

“When he signed the waiver, me and Senator (Panfilo) Lacson looked at each other because this is what we’re waiting for, which is to open for public scrutiny his wealth. But suddenly, everything changed when he set condition,” Sotto said.

If reports are true that Corona will finally submit a waiver without condition, Sotto said the chief magistrate might still get the sympathy of the public.

“Many will believe him if he will give that waiver without any condition and if he will do that, the Senate President is ready to work Saturday and Sunday,” Sotto said.

For its part, impeachment prosecutors welcomed Corona's willingness to return to the stand but urged the beleaguered Supreme Court official to refrain from creating "more drama" out of the proceedings.

“We are hoping we will not see same kind of drama we saw on Tuesday,” Aurora Representative Sonny Angara, a spokesperson for the prosecution team, said in a press briefing.

“Just answer the questions so that we’ll already be able to conclude this trial,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Office of the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms (Ossa) has designated holding areas for reporters, cameramen and photographers who will cover the second appearance of Corona in his own impeachment trial.

“Designated media areas will be at the ground floor lobby and the second floor of the Senate Building. The hallway from the session hall to the executive lounge at the second floor as well as the basement will be strictly off limits to the media,” according to a media advisory from Ossa.

The Ossa also advised the accredited media members to wear their identification cards and media passes. (PNA/Sunnex)

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