Solon wants Corona impeachment trial fast-tracked

February 19, 2012 11:26 am 

By Catherine J. Teves

MANILA, Feb. 18 – Bayan Muna Partylist Rep. Teddy Casiño is urging the parties involved in Chief Justice Renato Corona's ongoing impeachment trial to focus on main issues against the accused so court proceedings can move at a faster rate and be concluded as soon as possible.

He made the call, saying the trial's "too tied to side issues" like sources of documents the prosecution's Oriental Mindoro 2nd District Rep. Reynaldo Umali and Quezon City 3rd District Rep. Jorge Banal now claim to possess.

Both prosecution and defense teams' fumblings only muddle main issues against Corona, Casiño said.

"I hope the Senate impeachment court won't be side-tracked by all these," he said during Saturday's Forum @ Annabel's in Quezon City.

Casiño noted that the trial attracted so much public attention that even legislative work was nearly halted.

"I think it's a reality that legislative work in Congress has been in suspension because of the impeachment trial — the court proceedings must be finished as soon as possible so we can move on," he said.

He raised need for his colleagues to remain focused on their legislative agenda, particularly warning that the country must be able to remain afloat amidst prevailing bleak international financial conditions.

"With another round of economic crisis looming, we have nowhere to turn to but ourselves," he said.

Casiño reported attending in Davao City last week a public hearing on possible amendments to the law governing 'barangay' micro-enterprises nationwide.

"Livelihood generation's lacking so we must strengthen support for such micro-enterprises," he said.

For his part, Umali agrees the impeachment trial must not derail work in government.

"Work must go on," he said at the forum.

He reported allocating time to following up his infrastructure projects in Oriental Mindoro.

The Mindoro Oriental lawmaker acknowledged that not much was accomplished during the trial this week when proceedings focused on Corona's accounts at the Philippine Savings Bank (PSBank).

"I think that's still good for the prosecution because we're nearing the truth as new details surface almost everyday, however," he said.

Such details include the closing of three accounts of Corona at PSBank on Dec. 12, 2011 when House members filed before the Senate their impeachment complaint against the chief justice.

Private prosecutor Demetrio Custodio reportedly said the accounts' closure shows Corona's attempt to conceal certain wealth.

Defense team lawyer Rico Quicho assured Corona's side raises its concerns before the Senate impeachment court not to muddle the proceedings.

"If a question is objectionable, it's our obligation to say so," Quicho said during the forum.

He noted such helps "to ensure the law's real intent will be served."

Earlier, Umali said a "small lady" handed him at the Senate this month documents on Corona's PSBank accounts. He's standing by such story.

Reports said Senator-Judge Jinggoy Estrada already called on the "small lady" to face the impeachment court.

Before senator-judges this week, Banal reported retrieving from the gate of his house an envelope containing documents on Corona's PSBank accounts as well.

Banal admitted approaching PSBank Katipunan branch manager Anabelle Tiongson to inquire about the accounts.

Tiongson testified at the trial she turned down Banal's request.

Corona's camp is reportedly considering to file criminal charges against Banal for allegedly violating the bank secrecy law by attempting to look into the accounts.

The defense maintains it is illegal to look into or inquire about a depositor's bank account without this person's permission. (PNA) scs/CJT/utb

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