PRESIDING OFFICER Juan Ponce Enrile issued a stern warning to defense counsels and Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona to show respect to the senator-judges who were hearing the impeachment complaint against him after Corona walked out of the session hall Tuesday afternoon.
Defense counsel Serafin Cuevas was quick to mollify Enrile, saying that Corona was forced to leave because he was suffering from hypoglycemia, or low sugar levels in the blood, chest pains, difficulty in breathing, and dizziness.
Enrile had immediately ordered the locking of all doors of the Senate after Corona walked out of the session hall after delivering an opening statement that lasted more than two hours.
After half an hour, Corona was wheeled back into the session hall on a wheelchair, his tie loosened and his coat removed. Corona had reportedly gone to the Senate basement where his vehicles had been parked.
Enrile was clearly angered by the incident, and proceeded to berate Cuevas while Corona sat in his wheelchair with his head bowed and his eyes closed.
Enrile pointed out to Cuevas that the senate impeachment court had shown courtesy to Corona by allowing him to speak for almost three hours.
“I have high respect for the Chief Justice and I have higher respect for the institution that he represents, but I equally demand respect for the institution that I represent and I am not going to allow any slight, any abuse of authority against this court,” Enrile said.
Enrile brushed aside explanations from Cuevas that Corona was suffering a medical condition. Enrile said Corona could have just excused himself formally.
“The Chief Justice knows the decorum in court. He could have said he is not feeling well, may I be excused by the court? The fact is that he said, I am the Chief Justice and I want to be excused,” Enrile said.
Enrile also warned Cuevas that if Corona does not want to be subjected to direct and cross examination, then the impeachment court would be forced to strike out his statements before the court, and rule on the basis of evidence already on the record.
Cuevas was profusely apologetic, and asked for forgiveness in behalf of his client.
To this, Enrile, in deference to Corona’s condition, agreed to defer the trial to Wednesday.