Angara hits Corona team's delaying tactic

- Manny Galvez -

BALER, Aurora, Philippines  – The motion seeking to inhibit Sen. Edgardo Angara in the ongoing impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona shows the inefficiency of the defense panel to defend the chief magistrate, the senator-judge said.

Angara echoed the suspicion of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile that the defense, led by chief counsel retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Serafin Cuevas, may have been unprepared, which is why it resorted to this delaying tactic.

“Maybe Senate President Enrile is right that the defense is unprepared. They want to win on a mere technicality,” he said.

On Monday, Cuevas’ team filed the seven-page motion to inhibit Angara, citing that the approval of the billion-peso government projects in his home province could affect his partiality in favor of the Aquino administration.

The supposed projects included the P1.66-billion Baler-Casiguran Road and the P798.56-million bridge project in Barangay Umiray, Dingalan.

“The scale and timing of these projects appear more as political favors and inducements, rather than just honest-to-goodness responses to development concerns,” the defense said. 

They also noted that the senator’s son, Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara, is one of the spokesmen for the House prosecution panel.

The elder Angara was irked over the insinuation that the role of his son as prosecution spokesman and the recent approval of the Baler-Casiguran Road were made in exchange for his vote to convict Corona.

“They are insinuating that my vote has already been bought,” he said. “And to demonstrate how malicious this insinuation is, they say in their concluding paragraph: The only way, you, Senator Angara, can redeem yourself is to vote for acquittal.”

“If you are trying to inhibit me along that line, then maybe Senate President Enrile should also inhibit because his son voted for the impeachment and Sen. Jinggoy Estrada’s brother voted, too,” Angara pointed out.

The senator-judge explained that the Baler-Casiguran Road project was proposed three years ago during the administration of former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, not during the time of President Aquino.

“They were asking why NEDA (National Economic and Development Authority) approved the road project? It was me who negotiated the funding for the project with the Korean government, not the Aquino administration. The only thing that happened in this administration is that it was approved by NEDA, which is required for all foreign-funded projects,” he clarified.

Angara said the motions to inhibit him and other senator-judges like Ralph Recto, Franklin Drilon and Francis Pangilinan are meant to discredit the impeachment court.

“One way or the other, we are all affiliated with one party and all of us except possibly one or two parties are all supportive of the government’s program. There is no other interpretation I can read from this accusations of the defense, except to destroy the credibility of this impeachment court – destroy the one pillar of justice, the Senate, that can stand up even to the Supreme Court and the President,” he said.

Enrile earlier dismissed the motion, saying, “I assure you none of you can sway us in one way or the other. And if you have any reason to believe that we are dishonest, say so candidly and openly and we are ready, willing and able to defend ourselves.”

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