Five out of eight impeachment charges against Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona dropped
- By Barbara Mae Dacanay, Bureau Chief
Manila:Â The prosecution dropped five of eightÂ impeachment charges against Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona at the end of presentation of evidence at the Senate, which served as an impeachment court on Tuesday.
Instead of accepting defeat with the prosecution’s inability to compel associate judges and other Supreme Court employees to testify against Corona at the impeachment trial, Congressman Neil Tupas said, “The prosecution rests its case. We have a strong case.”
The prosecution will no longer present evidences after it has presented 25 evidences and 397 documents to support theÂ impeachment claims, said Tupas, adding these includedÂ complaints that Corona failed to file his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth; that he lacked competence, integrity, probity, and independence; and he was partial in granting a temporary restraining order on the justice department’s watch-list order against former president Gloria Arroyo last year.
“We have proven that the chief justice committed betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the Constitution… and betrayal of public trust,” said Tupas.
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile asked the prosecution to formally file a motion to drop five impeachment charges against Corona.
The defense was scheduled to present evidence and witnesses before the impeachment court, said defense lawyer Serafin Cuevas.
The prosecution’s early termination of presentation of evidences occurred at a time when the Supreme Court issued a resolution that employees of the high Court could not testify at the Senate’s impeachment trial. It was in response to the Senate, which issued a subpoena to two low-ranking employees.
On Monday, the Senate refused the request of the prosecution to issue a subpoena to its witness, the High Court Associate Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, adding that it is preventing a “collision of two co-equal bodies of government”.
In response to the Senate snub, Congressman Neri Colmenares delivered a letter and formally invited Sereno to attend as a witness of the prosecution at the Senate impeachment trial on Thursday.
At the same time, the prosecution also rested its case after millions of followers attended a religious gathering of the non-Catholic Church of Christ (INK) at Manila’s central Luneta Park. INK held simultaneous rallies in Mindanao, southern Philippines and in Visayas, central Philippines.
INK’s nationwide evangelical mission was a show of force for Corona, observers said. His lawyer Serafin Cuevas is an INK member and INK’s lawyer.
Corona was invited by the INK, but he did not attend the event.
President Benigno Aquino did notÂ attend the event despite INK’s invitation. The INK supported him in the May 2010 elections.
The INK can command three million block votes from followers, the reason why politicians often seek its assistance during elections.
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