Tupas denies wrangling within the prosecution team

March 3, 2012 1:56 am 

MANILA, March 2 -– Lead prosecutor Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas Jr. denied on Friday the reported wrangling within the House of Representatives' prosecution panel in the impeachment trial of Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona.

"No division within the prosecution," he said in an interview.

House prosecution team spokesman Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo "Sonny" Angara also downplayed the reported bickering allegedly triggered by Tupas’ decision to drop Supreme Court Associate Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno as a possible witness in the Article 7 of the Impeachment Complaint.

"The withdrawal of other evidence was the decision of the whole prosecution team," he said.

Tupas said the prosecution will no longer file a motion of reservation to present Sereno to take the witness stand against Corona.

Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Teddy Casino, Gabriela party-list Rep. Emmi de Jesus, and ACT Teachers party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio earlier assailed Tupas for allegedly "unilaterally dropping Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno as a vital witness in Article 7."

They demand that the prosecution continue to exert efforts to pave the way for Sereno to appear in court to prove the partiality of the chief justice to former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

"We are not only disappointed, we are aghast. This is a treachery of previous unities in the prosecution to rest the case and, together with the dollar accounts in Article 2, make a reservation for Sereno’s testimony on Article 7," the three lawmakers belonging to the Progressive bloc at the Lower Chamber said.

"We wonder who ordered Tupas to close the door for Sereno’s testimony. This is alarming and appears part of a series of acts to downplay Corona’s connection to GMA," they added.

The solons said that when they filed the impeachment complaint, "it was clear that Corona was being made to account for his partiality and subservience to Arroyo. And now that aspect of the case is being weakened by the lead prosecutor himself."

Tupas said the prosecution will no longer file a motion of reservation to present Sereno, but they would still pursue to file a motion of reservation on Corona’s dollar account which the SC disallowed through a temporary restraining order (TRO).

The House prosecution is set to submit its formal offer of evidence against the chief magistrate following withdrawal of five of the eight articles of impeachment complaint and the termination of presentation of witnesses and evidence with one reservation.

In order to give the defense team a chance to study the offered evidence until March 8, the impeachment court suspended the trial until March 12 to also give each senator-judge the opportunity to go over the evidence.

The impeachment trial adjourned last Wednesday after the prosecution team withdrew the Articles 1, 8, 4, 5 and 6 and rest the case on Articles 2, 3 and 7 where the prosecutors presented 25 witnesses and 247 documentary evidence.

Tupas believed that they have already presented strong case under the Article 2 which refers to the non-disclosure of the statement of assets, liabilities and net worth; Article 3 which accused Corona of lack of competence, integrity, probity and independence; and Article 7 on the issuance of TRO against travel ban issued by Department of Justice against former President Arroyo. (PNA)

scs/LGI/JFM

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