Lead defense counsel of impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona, Serafin Cuevas, a former associate justice in the Marcos Supreme Court who has been impressing the public with his vast knowledge of legal technicalities and legal maneuvers— proved himself ham-handed at cross-examination. He blew his cross-examination of BIR (Bureau of Internal Revenue) Commissioner Kim Henares and BPI (Bank of the Philippine Islands) branch manger Leonora Dizon.
Is the Supreme Court superior to the Impeachment Court or is the Impeachment Court supreme within its ambit? That is the question of the moment.
Lawyers will always cite the Constitutional provision that favors their argument. One side will point to Art VIII Sec 1 (The Supreme Court has the power and the duty “to determine whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the Government”) and the other side will cite Art X1 Sec 6 (“The Senate shall have the sole power to try and decide all cases of impeachment”). Either argument is solid so the question, if neither side gives in, will have to be resolved arbitrarily.
Last December, impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona said he would answer the charges against him point by point. Bring it on, right? But so far, instead of answering the charges, his lawyers have objected to practically every land title and mis-declared SALN (Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth) the prosecution has tried to present.
The defense strategy has been to prevent battled-tested private prosecutors from arguing points of law and limiting them to direct examination of witnesses; convincing senator-judges that the headings of the articles of impeachment are the substance of the charge; and that the bar of impeachment should be raised above and beyond anyone’s reach.
Frustrated over having to keep up with Sen. Miriam Santiago’s rapid-fire tirades at the trial of impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona, the Sign Language Association of the Philippines (SLAP) decided that henceforth the interpreter on duty will simply point a finger to his temple and move it in a circular motion whenever Miriam speaks. Just kidding.
Over the weekend, Sen. Santiago told dzBB radio that she had a brain scan after her blood pressure shot up following her full Brenda on private prosecutor Atty. Arthur Lim.
Before yesterday’s hearing, I thought I had the defense strategy figured out: Tie the hands of the prosecution; block the submission of evidence by raising legal technicalities; confuse the public with legal gobbledygook; and distract everybody with the hairdo of Justice Cuevas. I figured wrong. I didn’t see the secret weapon of the defense: a remote control device to activate the motor mouth of lead prosecutor Iloilo Representative Niel Tupas.
Less talk, less mistake! Hasn’t anybody told Tupas that?
Gloria Arroyo wrote in the intro to her three thousand word rant against President Aquino, “I wrote this article (It’s the economy, student) on and off in my spare time during my house recuperation, re-hospitalization and hospital detention from October to December 2011.” Mukha nga.
That’s why Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda dismissed it as “a political manifesto disguised as an economic paper” presented at “a press briefing masquerading as a colloquium.”