Senate suspends impeachment trial until Monday

May 8, 2012 10:47 pm 

By Jelly F. Musico

MANILA, May 8 — The Senate, sitting as the impeachment court, on Tuesday granted the motion of the defense panel to give them 48 hours to prepare a motion to subpoena Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales and others in connection with the US$ 10 million bank deposits allegedly owned by Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona.

With this, Senate President and presiding officer Juan Ponce Enrile suspended the impeachment trial until Monday, cancelling the presentation of other witnesses including Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Leila de Lima who was supposed to take the witness stand again on Wednesday.

”The impeachment trial will resume on Monday to give the defense to prepare their motion to subpoena these persons who have knowledge in the 10 million dollar bank deposits,” Enrile said.

Enrile made the ruling on the request of defense lawyer Jose Roy III who assured the Senate presiding officer that Corona will testify in the trial if the Senate would subpoena the Ombudsman and others who filed a case against Corona involving the US$ 10 million deposit.

”We will resume on Monday,” Enrile ruled.

Aside from Morales, Roy said the defense would like to subpoena Akbayan party-list Rep. Walden Bello and former Akbayan party-list Rep. Riza Hontiveros and other petitioners in the case filed before the Ombudsman.

Harvey Keh, who divulged the alleged foreign deposits of Corona, will also be subpoenaed.

”I’m willing to sign the motion to subpoena these persons as your hostile witness,” Enrile assured the defense.

Despite the parliamentary courtesy, Enrile said that he was also willing to sign a motion to subpoena Rep. Bello, who is also a complainant before the Office of the Ombudsman.

Roy said the defense as well as Corona are “ready to meet this issue head-on” including the issue involving the alleged dollar deposit of the chief justice with the Philippine Savings Bank.

”When the chief justice testify, this question can be profounded at that time. I wish to assure you the forthright intention of the chief justice your honor,” Roy said.

“We will present the chief justice… definitely,” he assured.

House prosecution spokesman House Deputy Speaker Lorenzo "Erin" Tanada III has called the move of the defense as shifting of strategy but "it’s a welcome shift."

In a television interview, defense lawyer Tranquil Salvador said Cornoa would testify, thus “no need to sign waiver on his bank records including dollar accounts.”

Roy, in a separate interview, said Corona gave him instructions to announce that the Chief Justice would like to testify.

In another television interview, Hontiveros said she was more than willing to testify.

”With all due respect, I also call on Corona to categorically state he will testify so we can bring closure to this trial,” Hontiveros said.

Senator Panfilo Lacson said if Corona would take the witness stand and invoke law on foreign deposit accounts, "we will be back to zero." (PNA)

RMA/lgi/JFM

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