In a historic first, an impeached official faces both his accusers and his jurors on a day that could make or break the case against him.
Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona takes the witness stand today to testify on the charges against him, particularly that he was committed culpable violations of the Constitution and betrayal of the public trust for failing to make public his statements of assets, liabilities, and net worth, and for allegedly showing partiality towards former President Gloria Arroyo in several cases decided on by the high tribunal.
Addressing his colleagues at the start of today’s impeachment proceedings, presiding officer Juan Ponce Enrile reminded the senator-judges that they were not conducting an “inquiry in aid of legislation.”
Rather, Enrile said that the senators were here to be “hearers of facts.”
“In the course of the trial and judgement, we will interpret the law according to our best (rights). We are receivers of evidence from the prosecution and defense. We are not an inquisitorial court,” Enrile reminded the senators.
Corona arrived at the senate building a few minutes early, and was ushered into a waiting room. Corona had come from the Supreme Court offices in Padre Faura, where supporters and court employees staged a rally to support him.
Defense counsel Serafin Cuevas, in his opening remarks, expressed concerns over the possibility that some may try to influence the senator-judges. In addition, Cuevas said he was concerned that his client would be judged, not just by the impeachment court, but by the public in general as well.
Cuevas stressed the need for “political neutrality,” wherein senator-judges would exercise their “public duty” regardless of “their party affiliation.”
Enrile for his part assured Cuevas that the senator-judges would “judge this case on the basis of the evidence presented to us by the prosecution and the defense.”
“No one of us here, including this chair, will attempt to influence the minds of any of the 23 souls acting as judges in this impeachment trial,” Enrile said.
Addressing the public watching from the gallery, Enrile said the senate will strictly implement the prohibition against “any expression of approval or disapproval.”
“No clapping or shouting or unnecessary commotions,” Enrile said.
Corona arrives at the senate building. Video by NBN4