Senate is prepared to comment on petitions for TROs stopping impeachment trial — Enrile

January 20, 2012 11:39 pm 

By Jelly F. Musico

MANILA, Jan. 20 – Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile has said the senators are ready to comment on the petitions for temporary restraining orders (TROs) filed before the Supreme Court in an effort to stop the Senate from sitting as impeachment court for the trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona.

”We have been given 10 days to answer. We cannot just give our comments. More or less, I knew already the answer but I can’t reveal it yet right now,” Enrile, the presiding officer of the impeachment court, said.

The SC has withheld its verdict on the motions for TROs by various individuals but required the Senate to respond within 10 days upon receipt of the request.

As this developed, Atty. Allan Paguia and Atty. Homobono Adaza reportedly filed their third urgent motion asking the SC to stop the impeachment proceedings which started last January 16.

Enrile, however, said “no one can interfere with us as long as we apply the Bill of Rights and the principle of due process and as long as we do an impartial and fair administration of justice.”

”You know there are only three branches of government. They're co-equal and independent from each other. Separate and independent but coordinated. Powers of government are divided into three parts assigned to three branches of government. One, the Executive, implements the law. The other, which is Congress, enacts the law. The third branch, the Judiciary, interprets,” Enrile, a veteran lawmaker, explained.

”Now the impeachment trial in the Senate is special. It is assigned to Congress and it involves the two Houses. One prosecutes and the other tries and decides the case but in this case, it does not mean that we become superior,” Enrile added.

The Senate president said the impeachment court has the sole power to try and decide an impeachment case.

”Now, if we commit mistake and we become arbitrary or tyrannical or oppressive in our decision, then maybe that will become an issue later on after we have done our work. But while we are doing the work, in our opinion, no one can interfere with us,” he clarified.

Enrile said the Senate will not abandon its Constitutional duty.

”In the same manner that if we ask the explanation of the SC, they also have to explain to us in the same manner that we will have to comply with their request that we explain our position with respect to the pending cases,” Enrile said.

Enrile said both the prosecution and defense panels “have birth pains” during the first four days of the impeachment trial but expressed optimism that everything will be smoother and fast next week."

So far, the prosecution team has presented a total of five witnesses and has 11 more to be presented starting next Tuesday when trial resumes at 2 p.m.

The prosecutors are trying to prove that Corona has amassed ill-gotten wealth that he did not declare in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth or SALN.

Under Article 2 of the eight articles of impeachment, the prosecutors impeached Corona for failure to disclose his SALN.

A total of 188 congressmen signed the eight articles of impeachment, accusing Corona of betrayal of public trust, culpable violation of the Constitution and graft and corruption.

The impeachment court adjourned last Thursday and will resume on Tuesday next week to give way to the celebration of the Chinese New Year on Monday. (PNA)

scs/jfm

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