May 25, 2012 · Posted in: General
FOR WEEKS, prosecution lawyers had been asking impeached Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona to sign a waiver for him to disclose all his bank and financial assets.
But now that they have that waiver, why is it that no one is interested in using it?
Senator-Judge Francis Escudero asked this question after both defense and prosecution lawyers announced that they were no longer presenting any witnesses in Corona’s impeachment trial.
On Friday, Corona announced that he was submitting to the senate impeachment court the waiver that he signed last Tuesday authorizing all banks and financial institutions to disclose to the public the contents of peso and dollar accounts under the name of Corona.
Interestingly, both defense and prosecution panels announced minutes later that they were no longer interested in grilling Corona, or in summoning new witnesses. This apparently left the senator-judges in a bind, as the waiver opened a new door that neither side wanted to use.
After a caucus by the senator-judges, presiding officer Juan Ponce Enrile said the senate impeachment court has no authority to subpoena witnesses on its own, as it is only allowed to hear evidence. “Given the fact that we are not supposed to produce evidence for either the defense or prosecution, so we just take note of this waiver,” Enrile said.
Escudero asked lead prosecutor Niel Tupas why prosecutors had been hounding Corona all this time to sign such a waiver, only to ignore the waiver now that it was being handed to them on a silver platter.
“Nagbotohan pa kami kung gagalangin ang TRO ng Supreme Court, pero ngayong bukas na (ang bank accounts), parang wala nang interesado bigla?” Escudero told Tupas. “Di ko maintindihan yun.”
Tupas said that since the defense was no longer presenting any new evidence, the prosecution had also decided to rest its case and no longer present any rebuttal evidence.
Escudero however said that it was unfortunate that no one was taking advantage of the waiver signed by Corona to strengthen the arguments of either the defense or the prosecution.
“Sa panig namin, maliwanag na hindi pwede magprisinta ng ebidensya,” Escudero told Tupas. “Malaking kawalan ang pagkakataong binibigay nito para mapalakas ang posisyon ng magkabilang panig. Pero hindi namin kayo didiktahan.”
After Escudero raised this point, defense counsel Serafin Cuevas said that Corona had indicated that he already felt weak and would like to be excused. Enrile allowed Corona to step down from the witness stand just after five in the afternoon Friday.