Senators defend Aquino vs. Corona camp accusations

Senator-judges denied allegations that President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III is convincing them to vote for Chief Justice Renato Corona’s impeachment.

Retired Associate Justice Serafin Cuevas, Corona’s lead counsel, said the defense is concerned over reports that the president himself is influencing members of the impeachment court, even if it meant “[voting] against what they really feel.”

However, Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero defended the President and debunked such allegations that the chief executive is doing the rounds among senator-judges to convince them to vote against Chief Justice Renato Corona in his impeachment case.

The senator said he was with the President last week and during the entire course of their conversation, there was never a mention about the accusation lodged by the Corona team.

“PNoy and I are friends. We talk for about an hour about a lot of things. To be fair and factual about it, he did not bring up the issue nor even mentioned about it,” Escudero said.

I am speaking on a personal standpoint and knowing PNoy, what Atty. Cuevas is accusing him of is out of the president’s character. He won’t do such a thing,” he added.

Meanwhile, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, presiding officer of the impeachment court, said he has not heard from any of the senators that Aquino is talking to them regarding Corona’s trial and that he sees nothing wrong if Aquino is indeed speaking to the judges.

“Both sides can talk with the senators. It’s up to the senators to exercise their circumspection,” Enrile said in an interview.

However, members of the prosecution panel of the House of Representatives said they barred themselves from talking with the senators to avoid speculations that they are influencing the decision of the judges.

We, as lawyers, don’t see it fit to talk with the senator-judges,” said Cavite Rep. Joseph Abaya who is part of the 11-man prosecution team.

Nevertheless, Enrile stressed, “the behavioral requirement in this impeachment process is addressed to the individual discretion of the members of the Senate.”

TRO sought

Lawyers Homobono Adaza and Alan Paguia had asked the Supreme Court to issue a temporary restraining order stopping the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona pending the High Court’s resolution on the merits of their petitions which they earlier filed.

In a three-page urgent motion, Adaza and Paguia asked the High Tribunal to set their petition–questioning the legality of the impeachment–for oral argument.

“The attempt at impeachment of the chief justice will affect the fate and destiny of our country and our people, specifically the Constitution, the rule of law and all institutions of government,” they stressed.

The SC will resume its regular sessions on January 17.

In a 23-page petition, Adaza and Paguia asked the SC to declare as unconstitutional the impeachment complaint and articles of impeachment against Corona which they averred were not verified by the overwhelming majority of the complainants.—Journal with  Hector Lawas





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