Lawmakers hit defense team for trying to discredit senator-judges in ongoing impeachment trial

February 13, 2012 12:25 pm 

By Lilybeth G. Ison

MANILA, Feb. 13 — Lawmakers assailed on Monday the defense team of Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona for trying to discredit senator-judges to sway the outcome in the ongoing impeachment trial of the chief magistrate.

Marikina City Rep. Romero Federico "Miro" Quimbo, one of the spokesmen of the House of Representatives' prosecution panel, described as virtually a "hostage-taking" the allegations of the defense in its press conference Sunday evening against the senator-judges so as to force them for an acquittal on the case.

"We witnessed (during the press conference last night) how the chief justice led a hostage-taking of the senator-judges, the impeachment proceedings and the quest for transparency and accountability. Using rumors and hearsay evidence, which ironically they (defense) had been opposing regularly throughout the hearing, counsels for the chief justice practically put a gun on the senator-judges to scare them," he said.

Quimbo said the timing could not have been more suspicious as the senators are about to decide in a caucus Monday morning whether to go ahead and open the supposed dollar bank accounts of the chief magistrate.

"The defense with its declaration (last night) seeks to discredit the entire Senate impeachment court and all decisions it will be making in the next few days in their desperation to prevent the disclosure of the bank accounts. Are those accounts so substantial that they want to prevent its opening? They are already conditioning the minds of the public to cast doubt on the independence of the Senate," he said.

"We pray that the Senate will not be swayed by these reckless and malicious imputations coming from the defense. It is our hope that the constitutional proceedings happening in the Senate will continue until its conclusion. Let the truth come out," he added.

Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares, member of the House prosecution panel, said the defense's accusation was "a declaration of war on the Senate intended to blackmail the senators into voting to abandon subpoena of dollar accounts."

Right from the start of the impeachment trial of the chief justice, Colmenares said, Corona's camp has been trying to discredit the Senate impeachment court and the senator-judges.

"This latest attack is blackmail; saying to the senators you vote with us not to open the dollar accounts or we will charge you with accepting bribe," he said.

Colmenares also accused the defense of trying to "lay the ground for walking out. They were hinting that they will not accept a Senate decision to implement subpoena (for the opening of the dollar accounts of the chief justice) because of the bribery."

Meanwhile, Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casino will lead the House Makabayan bloc in filing on Monday a proposed resolution expressing in the strongest terms the sense of the Lower Chamber that the Supreme Court's temporary restraining order (TRO) against the Senate impeachment court on the opening of the foreign currency deposit accounts of the chief justice as "an attack on the constitutional mandate of Congress and a form of sabotage to derail the impeachment proceedings."

"By restraining the impeachment court from finding out the truth of CJ Corona’s multiple dollar accounts, the Supreme Court is courting the Filipino people’s anger for hiding the truth. By abusing their powers to protect one of their own from public accountability, the SC is treading on dangerous ground," the draft resolution said.

"We condemn the SC’s move as an attack on the power of the House of Representatives to prosecute impeachment complaints and call on the Senate not to back down on this blatant challenge to its authority," it added. (PNA)

scs/LGI/mec

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