CJ removal crucial in prosecuting GMA – House prosecution

February 24, 2012 12:17 pm 

MANILA, Feb. 23 – In light of the testimonies made by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima Thursday during day 23 of the impeachment of Chief Justice Renato Corona, members of the House prosecution panel firmly believed that the removal from office of Corona is vital in attaining justice against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

According to Secretary De Lima, Mrs. Arroyo and her husband, Jose Miguel planned to flee the country in November, 2011 to escape prosecution from a spate of serious charges being readied against Arroyo at that time.

De Lima alleged that Corona played a big role in the hasty issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) on a watch–list order against the former First Couple to give them an opportunity to escape.

“It was very clear from the testimony of Secretary de Lima that the Arroyos planned to leave the country in order to escape prosecution and that they nearly succeeded because of the hastily issued TRO,” House prosecution spokesman Rep. Romero Quimbo said.

Because of that episode, Quimbo said they are of the firm belief that as long as Chief Justice Corona is in office, it would be hard to prosecute Arroyo and make her accountable for her grave offenses when she was still president.

Meanwhile, House Deputy Speaker Erin Tanada alleged that Corona was precisely handpicked by Arroyo in order to protect the former president from the charges levelled against her.

For his part, Aurora Rep. Edgardo “Sonny” Angara said that the unyielding support given by Corona to Arroyo is concrete proof of his partiality and bias to Mrs. Arroyo as alleged in Article VII of the impeachment complaint.

In a related development, the House prosecution panel were elated with the declarations of Senate President and Presiding- Judge Juan Ponce Enrile that appeared to liberalize the acceptance of evidence in the impeachment proceedings.

Enrile declared that impeachment is not a criminal proceeding and, as such, do not need a quantum of evidence to impeach public officials.

His ruling paved for the admission of De Lima’s testimonies, which were moved to be stricken out by the defense, as part of the impeachment records.

“We were very happy with the turn of events and we look at this as a major victory. This vindicated the position of the prosecution from Day 1 of the impeachment trial,” Quimbo said. (PNA)

RSV/CMR

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