Sotto says oral arguments remain crucial for senator-judges

May 28, 2012 12:38 am 

By Jelly F. Musico

MANILA, May 27 – Senate Majority Floor Leader Vicente Sotto III said on Sunday that the oral arguments set on Monday remain crucial as these would help him and other senator-judges to "tie up loose ends" before coming up with their final verdict on the impeachment case of Chief Justice Renato Corona.

”There are some of us who are still contemplating. Like me, I would listen up to the oral arguments before making my decision. All the information should be extracted. It’s like tying up loose ends,” Sotto said in an interview over radio dzBB.

For this reason, Sotto said the Senate, sitting as impeachment court, has decided to set another day on Tuesday for the final verdict to give the senator-judges one night to review their decision after hearing the oral arguments.

“There might be compelling statement or reason that both sides will give. Some of us who have not fully made up their minds unless they have a good picture of the proceedings, cannot really give decision right away. So to be fair to everyone, tomorrow (Tuesday) is the best,” said Sotto,

Sotto said he will propose on Monday to have the vote on the impeachment case on Tuesday.

”That will give us time to explain our votes, write down what we want to explain in our votes,” he said.

While the rules strictly provide only two minutes for the senator-judges to cast and explain their respective vote, Sotto said Senate President and Presiding Judge Juan Ponce Enrile might allow each member of the court a two-minute extension.

”It will depend on the discretion of the presiding officer because there are some senators who might request for an extension to explain their vote. But as much as possible, we will limit it to two minutes,” Sotto said.

Sotto said the senator-judges will cast their votes in alphabetical order, hoping that the public will eventually accept whatever verdict the Senate will render on the case.

He explained that the senators need not vote in all the three remaining impeachment complaints if the prosecution will be able to get 16 votes to convict Corona right in the first article.

The House prosecution originally submitted eight articles of impeachment complaints but midway of the 42 days of trial, these were reduced to only three — Articles 2, 3 and 7.

”We will decide on the three articles of impeachment complaint individually. If there is no conviction in Article 2, we will proceed to Article 3 and then Article 7 if there is still no conviction. If the verdict in Article 2 is conviction, we will no longer proceed in the next Article,” Sotto explained.

Article 2 refers to the alleged failure of the chief magistrate to disclose all his assets, including his dollar and peso bank deposits, in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth or SALN.

On the other hand, Article 3 accuses Corona of committing culpable betrayal of public trust, while Article 7 tackles his alleged partiality in granting the temporary restraining order (TRO) in favor of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and husband Mike Arroyo to allow them to leave for abroad to escape prosecution. (PNA)

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