Senate gives CJ’s defense panel until Friday to complete evidence

May 23, 2012 9:49 pm 

By Jelly F. Musico

MANILA, May 23 – The Senate, sitting as impeachment court, on Wednesday gave the defense panel of Chief Justice Renato Corona until Friday to wrap up evidence even as the court considered the testimony of Corona last Tuesday as part of the presented evidence.

”This court will give you until Friday to close your evidence. After that we will consider the case submitted on the record,” Senate President and presiding officer Juan Ponce Enrile told defense lead counsel Justice Serafin Cuevas during Wednesday’s 41st impeachment trial.

Enrile announced that an oral argument has been sent on Monday and the render of judgment on Tuesday or Wednesday, when both the prosecution and the defense panels have been granted only one hour to argue their respective case.

“On Monday, we schedule an oral argument. It will depend upon the court whether after the oral argument, we render judgment or postpone it for another day,” Enrile said.

Enrile made the ruling as the defense panel failed to assure when it will bring back the chief magistrate to the witness.

Corona was brought to the intensive care unit (ICU) of Medical City at 1 a.m. on Wednesday where he was reportedly being treated for “possible acute coronary syndrome or heart attack.” He is needed to be monitored closely for the next 48 hours.

Cuevas, however, got assurance from Corona’s wife Cristina that “the chief justice Corona is willing to be back in order to continue with his direct and cross examination questions.”

”He is still in the hospital your honor and he is in sedation. We are fully convinced that he is not really in a good position to testify, considering his physical and mental condition. In fact, he cannot stand up, he is gasping for breath,” Cuevas said.

With this, Enrile allowed the defense to finish its evidence at 2 p.m. on Friday without any extension.

”After that, if you do not submit your evidence, we will consider the matter submitted on the record and we will consider the statement of the Chief Justice yesterday (Tuesday) as part of his testimony,” Enrile said.

Last Tuesday, Enrile threatened the defense to strike out Corona’s testimony from the court’s record if Corona will not return to the witness stand after he suddenly left the session hall after his almost three-hour testimony where he denied owning 82 dollar accounts amounting to US$ 10 to 12 million.

In fact, the visibly upset Enrile ordered to close all the doors to prevent Corona from leaving the Senate building.

The defense later explained that Corona did not walk out but was forced to leave the witness stand due to hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. He is a diabetic.

Defense panel spokesman Atty. Tranquil Salvador thanked the court for considering the lengthy statement of Corona last Tuesday as part of the defense’s evidence.

”We are very thankful to the impeachment court for considering the statement of the Chief Justice where he answered all the allegations,” Salvador said.

Meanwhile, lead prosecutor Rep. Niel Tupas of Iloilo said the prosecution would waive the right to cross-examine Corona if the chief magistrate would come back just for the cross-examination.

”If the Chief Justice is coming back only for cross-examination, then the prosecution is willing to waive the right to cross examine. We will not cross examine anymore,” Tupas said.

Cuevas, however, clarified that the defense was about to conduct direct examination to the respondent when Corona left the session hall. (PNA) RMA/jfm

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