IMPEACHMENT TRIAL: Wednesday, May 23, 2012

At 2:09 p.m., the hearing was called to order.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER.  The continuation of the impeachment trial of the Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato C. Corona is hereby called to order.  We shall be led in prayer by Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla.

(Senator Revilla led the prayer.)

THE PRESIDING OFFICER.  The Secretary will now please call the roll of Senators.

THE SECRETARY.  The Honorable Senators:  Angara, Arroyo, Cayetano Allan Peter “Companero”, Cayetano, Pia; Defensor, Santiago; Drillon; Ejercito, Estrada, Escudero; Guingona; Honasan; Lacson; Lapid; Legarda; Marcos; Osmena; Pangilinan; Pimentel; Recto; Revilla; Sotto; Trillanes; Villar; the Senate President.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER.  With 22 Senators present in the Chamber, the Presiding Officer declares the presence of a quorum.

SEN. SOTTO.  Mr. President.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER.  The Majority Floor Leader.

REP. SOTTO.  May I ask the Sergeant-At-Arms to make a proclamation.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER.  The Sergeant-At-Arms is directed to make the proclamation.

SGT-AT-ARMS.  All presents are commanded to keep silent under pain of penalty while the Senate is sitting In trial on the Articles of Impeachment against Chief Justice Renato C. Corona.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER.  Majority Floor Leader.

SEN. SOTTO.    Mr. President.  I move that we dispense with the reading of the May 22nd  2012 Journal of the Senate sitting as an impeachment court and consider the same as approved.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER.  Any objection?  There being none, the May 22nd 2012 Journal of the Senate, sitting as an impeachment court, is hereby approved.

Majority Floor Leader.  The Secretary will please call the case before the Senate, sitting as an impeachment court.

THE SECRETARY GENERAL.  Case No. 002-2011..In the Matter of Impeachment Trial of Chief Justice Renato C. Corona.

SEN. SOTTO.  Mr. President.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER.  Majority Floor Leader.

SEN. SOTTO.  May we ask the parties and/or their respective counsel to enter their appearances.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER.  Prosecution?

REP. TUPAS.  Good afternoon, Mr. Senate President.  On the part of the House of Representatives’ prosecution panel, same appearance.  We are ready, Your Honor.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER.  Noted.  Defense.

JUSTICE CUEVAS.  For the defense, Your Honor, same appearance.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER.  Noted.

Majority Floor Leader.

SEN. SOTTO.  Mr. President, the Court is now ready for the continuation of the testimony of Chief Justice Renato C. Corona.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER.  What is the pleasure of the defense?

JUSTICE CUEVAS. Your Honor please, in conjunction with the commitment of this Representation to the entire Senate yesterday, I went to the hospital where the Chief Justice is now confined in order to bring him before this Court and testify, continue with the direct examination and cross-examination that may be allowed in connection with his defense. Unluckily enough, when we reached the hospital, Your Honor, we did not have the opportunity to talk with the Chief Justice. He is insulation and we were prohibited by the physician in charged from having a conference with him. Nevertheless, we were able to talk to Mrs. Corona, her daughter Carla and son Francis Corona, Your Honor, and from then, more especially from Mrs. Corona, I got the assurance that Justice Corona, Chief Justice Corona, Your Honor, he is willing to be back in order to continue with his direct and cross-examination question, Your Honor. But the stumbling block against that desire of Justice Corona, Your Honor, is his mental and physical condition, Your Honor.  He is still in the hospital, Your Honor. We will have no objection if a physician that will be designated by this Court see him at the hospital, conduct an examination of his person and mind, Your Honor and submit a report to this Court because we are fully convinced that he is really not in a position to testify considering his physical and mental condition.  In fact, he cannot stand up, Your Honor.  He is gasping for breath and I do not think that his condition will warrant an intelligible examination whether direct or cross-examination, Your Honor.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER.    Alright. What is the pleasure of the prosecution?  Do you need to cross-examine the Chief Justice?

REP. TUPAS.  Yes, we intend to cross-examine the Chief Justice as soon as he is back, Your Honor.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER.  Alright.  Is the defense finished?

JUSTICE CUEVAS.  Your Honor please, we tried our level best to procure a copy of the medical bulletin of Chief Justice Corona and we have it with us. We are willing—we are leaving—we are submitting it to the discretion of the Court, Your Honor, in order to prove our contention to the effect that he really is not in a position to testify mentally and physically, Your Honor.

We acknowledged the magnanimity and liberality—I would say over liberality of this Court in accommodating the defense, Your Honor, but our impediment now is not only personal, Your Honor. It is really medical. We have to apologize to the Court for all these. We never anticipated all these things.

Now, in connection with the alleged walk out, Your Honor, I wanted to adhere to the rule that investigate first before condemning or hear first.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER.  The counsel, please confine yourself to the matter at hand. Don’t digress.

JUSTICE CUEVAS.  Thank you, Your Honor.

REP. TUPAS.  Your Honor. Your Honor please. If we may …

THE PRESIDING OFFICER.  May I ask when your client will come?

JUSTICE CUEVAS.  Pardon, Your Honor.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER.  You tell us when your client can come here in this Court.

JUSTICE CUEVAS.  Well, according to the physician in charged, Your Honor, it may take him to Monday but I wonder, I said I’ll submit it to the court and I have no assurance …

THE PRESIDING OFFICER.  Alright.  You cannot assure us, then, we will make a ruling and this ruling will be—cannot be reconsidered by anyone.

Yes. What is the pleasure of the Gentleman?

REP. TUPAS.  Your Honor, we manifested that we intend to do the cross-examination even yesterday.  But, we just have some clarification or clarificatory question is one to the defense addressed to the Presiding Officer.  We just want to know, Your Honor, if they bringing back Chief Justice Corona, will they still continue with the direct examination or it would purely be already on the cross-examination?

JUSTICE CUEVAS.  Yesterday—Your Honor, pelase, with the kind permission of the honourable court.  Yesterday, I was making a manifestation when all this hoolabaloo take place, Your Honor, I started with the statement that – seeking the permission of the court to be able to conduct my direct examination before the cross-examination.  And we were not able to proceed anymore because of the unhappy incident that took place yesterday, Your Honor.  So, we will continue with our direct examination and after we are through, then, he will be ready for cross-examination, Your Honor.

REP. TUPAS.  The reason we asked that, Your Honor, is that—because if the Chief Justice is coming back only for cross-examination, then, the prosecution is willing to waive our right to cross examine.  We are not anymore cross examine.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER.  Very good.

REP. TUPAS.  Only for cross.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER.   What else?

JUSTICE CUEVAS.  Well, I’ll have to finish my direct, Your Honor.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER.  This Chair—are you through counsel?

JUSTICE CUEVAS.  Your Honor, please.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER.  Are you through?

JUSTICE CUEVAS.  Yes, Your Honor.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER.  Well, this court will give you until Friday to close your evidence.  After that we will consider the case submitted on the record.  On Monday, we schedule an oral argument. It will depend upon the court, whether after the oral argument, we render the judgment or we postpone it for another day.

So ordered.  (Gavel)

JUSTICE CUEVAS. Thank you, Your Honor, for the accommodation.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER.  The Gentleman from Taguig.

SEN. CAYETANO.  Good afternoon, Mr. President.  I just have one clarificatory question to the defense.  Good afternoon, Justice.

JUSTICE CUEVAS.  Good afternoon

SEN. CAYETANO.  Yesterday, the Chief Justice gave us a narrative, his testimony.  Will the defense be submitting any evidence, documentary or otherwise to back up the narrative, yesterday?  For example, he told us about his collecting or his accumulating or saving dollars since 1960s.  Will you show us any bank accounts that will show us, or anything that will back up his story, so to speak.

JUSTICE CUEVAS.  I do not think, if, Your Honor, please, that we will have to go to that extent.  In other words, the testimony he had made yesterday will lie entirely on his credibility and the validity of his assertions, Your Honor.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER.  Well, anyway, Mr. President, I will not argue with that, the good defense counsel stated it very eloquently, we will rely on his credibility, so we will decide on that, because if he will be able to submit or the defense was able to submit, then, we can tie up the testimony, narrative, with some other form of evidence and that would have been better for the court.  But, anyway, I will not argue and I  accept the explanation of the defense.

JUSTICE CUEVAS.  Thank you, thank you.

SEN. CAYETANO.  Thank you, Mr. President.

JUSTICE CUEVAS.  Thank you, Mr. Senator.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER.  Friday, at two o’clock, we will grant you to finish your evidence, Friday, at two o’clock in the afternoon.  After that, if you do not submit your evidence, we will consider the matter submitted on the record, we will consider the statement of the Chief Justice yesterday as a part of his testimony and defensing chief, and we will consider the case submitted on the basis of the evidence presented in this court.   On Monday, you prepare for the oral argument and we will render a decision thereafter or maybe at the very least, on Tuesday.

So ordered.  (Gavel)

SEN. SOTTO.  Mr. President.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER.   The Majority Floor Leader.

SEN. SOTTO.  Thank you.  Just to clarify also if we will push through, as scheduled, the oral arguments or closing arguments on Monday, will the Presiding Officer give a definite hour for each side.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER.   One hour for each side.  You can allocate this time of one hour for each side among yourselves.  That includes the opening and closing argument of the prosecution and one hour for the defense to argue the case in favour of the respondent.

SEN. SOTTO.  Will that be a maximum of two speakers per side, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDING OFFICER.  Two or three, it depends upon them.  But in the case of the prosecution, the rule says opening and closing argument.  So two-two.

JUSTICE CUEVAS.  No rebuttal, Your Honor, on the part of the defense.  We were merely pleading, Your Honor, that the main argument be allowed to ask, even let’s say, 40 minutes or 45.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER.  It’s up to you.  We give an even time to both sides to be fair.

SEN. SOTTO.  But…

REP. TUPAS.  Your Honor.

JUSTICE CUEVAS.  But the sequence, Your Honor.

SEN. SOTTO.  Mr. President, may I…

JUSTICE CUEVAS.  We seek enlightenment, Your Honor.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER.  We follow the rule of this House.

SEN. SOTTO.  May I clarify for them, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER.  You better study the rules of the House.

JUSTICE CUEVAS.  Thank you, Your Honor.

SEN. SOTTO.  Mr. President, may I clarify for them.  One hour for the prosecution.  You may use it as you wish like 30 minutes for the first speaker, 25 minutes for the second speaker and five minutes after the defense for your closing.  And as far as the defense is concerned, one hour for their two speakers.

REP. TUPAS.  That’s very clear, Your Honor, the prosecution will deliver the closing argument.

SEN. SOTTO.  Yes.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER.  Well, that is the rules of this House.

SEN. SOTTO.  That is the rules.

REP. TUPAS.  Thank you so much, Your Honor.

SEN. SOTTO.  So with that, Mr. President, may I—may we recognize Senator Pimentel, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER.  The Gentleman from Misamis Oriental.

SEN. PIMENTEL.  Just a reminder, Mr. President, to the defense panel to be ready with their formal offer of documentary exhibits on Friday.

JUSTICE CUEVAS.  We will, Your Honor.

SEN. PIMENTEL.  Thank you.

JUSTICE CUEVAS.  Thank you, Your Honor.

REP. TUPAS.  With respect to that,…

THE PRESIDING OFFICER.  Apropos to this, the members of this court will follow the rules provided for impeachment cases.  Each one will be asked of his judgment that he will render on this case personally and he will have two minutes to explain his vote subject to the discretion of the Presiding Officer to extend it, if there’s a need for it.

SEN. SOTTO.  Senator Pangilinan, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER.  The Gentleman from Pampanga.

SEN. PANGILINAN.  Thank you, Mr. President.  Mr. President, just on another matter and I would like the lawyers for the Chief Justice to respond.  In view of his appearance yesterday before this impeachment court and having gone through direct examination, may we know what is the status of the petitions that he filed before the Supreme Court.  Do we take it to mean na dahil humarap na sya po rito ay inaatras na nya ang mga petisyon sa Korte Suprema?

JUSTICE CUEVAS.  No, that cannot be done just like that, if Your Honor please.  If the petitions are pending, they are valid and effective, there must be a motion for withdrawal or a motion, and there must be a resolution of the Supreme Court on that matter.  But there had been no motion to with—in  fact we were about to file  a motion for an early resolution and first to set the cases for oral argument.  No action as yet had been rendered on our motion, Your Honor.

SEN. PANGILINAN.  So his appearance here yesterday is not an indication of his, well, his withdrawal of the petition before the Supreme Court.  Because the petition questions the jurisdiction of the impeachment court, questions, well, another issue is I think the violation of his  constitutional rights.  So that has not been withdrawn.

JUSTICE CUEVAS.  That has not been withdrawn, Your Honor.

SEN. PANGILINAN.  Despite his appearance here yesterday.

JUSTICE CUEVAS.  Because we have no other alternative.  He must be here, otherwise the case against him may be decided without any appearance in here.  That is our predicament, Your Honor please.

SEN. PANGILINAN.  Well, we thank the counsel for the defense.

SEN. SOTTO.  Mr. President, Senator Francis Escudero wishes to be recognized.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER.  The Gentleman from Sorsogon.

SEN. ESCUDERO.   Thank you, Mr. President.   Just a few questions to the defense counsel.  Justice Cuevas, Chief Justice Corona yesterday said he was going to sign a waiver, and he signed a waiver in front of all of us, but that it was conditional.

If all 188—if all the prosecutors and all the 188 complainants, plus one of our colleagues, would sign it as well,—I actually am envious of Congressman Fariñas because he did not sign, he’s not part of the 188 and he does not have to sign the waiver but may I ask, first, where is that waiver right now?

JUSTICE CUEVAS.  I think it is still with him, Your Honor.

SEN. ESCUDERO.  It’s with him?

JUSTICE CUEVAS.  But copies were circulated yesterday.  I am not aware—We have copies, Your Honor, but it was not circulated as expected, Your Honor, because of the condition that was mentioned by the Chief Justice in his opening statement.

SEN. ESCUDERO.  I take it that all, without exception, should sign.  That’s his condition.

JUSTICE CUEVAS.  That is my understanding, if Your Honor, please.

SEN. ESCUDERO.  May I ask the prosecutors if anyone has already signed it, out of curiosity?

REP. TUPAS.  None.  None, Your Honor.

SEN. ESCUDERO.  But the forms are still with you?

REP. TUPAS.  I haven’t seen the form, Your Honor.

SEN. ESCUDERO.  It was returned?  So, I take it it is still with the Chief Justice.

JUSTICE CUEVAS.  It must be with him, Your Honor.

SEN. ESCUDERO.  I also remember, Mr. President, Your Honor,—I raise this issue because I read the transcript of the Chief Justice’s testimony and he said that if nobody or if not all of them will sign, that he will instruct his counsels to rest their case.  May I ask if that instruction has been given already or if he is still too ill to—Or how much time is given to gather the 188?

JUSTICE CUEVAS.  I have not talked to him.  I attempted for almost two hours this morning.  In fact, we were a little bit late in coming here because of the traffic.  But I cannot communicate with him in connection with matters dealing with this impeachment case, Your Honor.

SEN. ESCUDERO.  Kindly convey that we wish him well and I hope he recovers fast from …

JUSTICE CUEVAS.  Thank you.  Thank you, Your Honor.

SEN. SOTTO.  The President Pro Tempore, Mr. President, Senator Jinggoy Estrada.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER.  The Gentleman has the floor.

SEN. ESTRADA.  Thank you, Mr. President.

Mr. Lead Counsel of the Prosecution, just to satisfy my curiosity, are you willing to sign the waiver?

JUSTICE TUPAS.  Hindi po siguro—Ako, personally, it is not the issue po dito sa impeachment.  It is not the issue here.  The issue here is the waiver promised by the Chief Justice.  And we do not want to divert the issue.  To us, it is a non-issue for the prosecution.

SEN. ESTRADA.  So you are not willing to sign the waiver?

JUSTICE TUPAS.  We will not sign.

SEN. ESTRADA.  All right.  Thank you.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER.  Majority Floor Leader.

SEN. SOTTO.  Senator Drilon, Mr. President, wishes to sign—(Laughter)—I mean wishes to be recognized.

SEN. DRILON.  Obviously, I will not sign …

THE PRESIDING OFFICER.  (Gavel)  Will you kindly refrain from disrupting the proceedings, please.

SEN. DRILON.  I report all my assets in my SALN.  There is no requirement that we waive our—that we open up our bank deposits because if that is the case, that would be disastrous to our banking system.  Now,—But having said that, on record, I will not sign any wiaver.

But let me read the portion of the Chief Justice’s statement:  “Isusumite ko po ang aking waiver sa kinauukulan kapag kumpleto na ang pirmadong 189 waivers.  Kung hindi sila papayag sa hamong ito, bibigyan ko po ng direktiba ang aking defense panel na i-rest na po ang aking depensa.  Tutal wala naman silang napatunayang paratang laban sa akin.  Maraming salamat po.”

Obviously, there is already an automotive directive to the defense panel that the cace of the respondent will be rested if any of the 189 will not sign the waiver.  None of the 189 will sign the waive.  It is therefore clear that the instructions is automatic.  The defense panel is being instructed by no less than the respondent to rest its case.

May we know now the position of the defense panel?

JUSTICE CUEVAS.  I have not received any instruction up to now.

SEN. DRILON.  The instructions, Mr. President, were done in open hearing.

JUSTICE CUEVAS.  That is correct.

SEN. DRILON.  And found in the Journal.

JUSTICE CUEVAS.  That is correct, but that is futuristic, Your Honor.  “I will”, I will ask or instruct my defense panel to close the evidence, so it is future, Your Honor.  It is not I instruct them.  It is not a mandated instruction, Your Honor.

SEN. DRILON.  So, it is entirely possible that the Chief Justice will change his mind.

JUSTICE CUEVAS.  I am not the Chief Justice, how can I answer for that?

SEN. DRILON.  You said, it is futuristic.

JUSTICE CUEVAS.  Yes, sapagkat kung kanilang matutugunan itong aking binanggit dito, aatasan ko ang aking defense counsel na mag-submit na ng ebidensya—to close the evidence.

SEN. DRILON.  Salamat po Ginoong Pangulo.

JUSTICE CUEVAS.  Salamat po.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER.  Majority Floor Leader.

SEN. SOTTO.  Mr. President, may I ask the Sgt.-at-Arms to make the proclamation.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER.  The Sgt.-at-Arms is directed to make the proclamation.

THE SGT-AT-ARMS.  Please all rise.  All persons are commanded to remain in their places until the Senate President and the Senators have left the session hall.

SEN. SOTTO.  Mr. President, there being no other business for the day, I move that we adjourn until two o’clock in the afternoon of Friday, May 25, 2012.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER.  Is there any objection?  (Silence)  There being none, this trial is hereby adjourned until two o’clock in the afternoon of Friday, May 25th 2012.

It was. 2:31 p.m.

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