Comparisons can not be helped

AS IT APPEARS - Lorenzo Paradiang Jr. -

One human aberration is the likely tendency to make comparisons in lifestyle, mannerisms, speech or actuations. A common plaintive comment is: “I hate comparisons. I have my own unique personality, beliefs, habits, etc. that need not draw any comparison.”

Almost always, comparisons are as permanent as change, what with preconceived standards or norms of human behavior. For instance, good is stressed to differentiate it from evil; or, the competent is ranged against the incompetent, etc.

Take the on-going impeachment against Chief Justice Renato C. Corona of the Supreme Court. Even as early as the first and the second trial dates before the Senate as Impeachment Court, comparison runs on passionate manner, vis-à-vis the competence or ineptness between the prosecution and the defense panels.

Item 1 – The prosecution lead prosecutor, Rep. Niel Tupas, chair of the House Committee on Justice and Congressmen members, who are not in law practice, are reinforced with private practitioners but of no known ability. Definitely, Tupas isn’t a brilliant prosecutor. So far as shown by the first private prosecutor of Article 2, he is likewise of average capability. In fact, relying on the computer-generated documentary evidence, he didn’t bother to establish the “basis”, say, source of the document, its official custodian, authenticity of the evidence, etc. And for Corona’s SALN, he even forgot to “qualify” the witness as to his name and other personal circumstances. Simple examinations on marked documents were ineptly done. Initial rating: Not passing.

The defense team has Retired Associate Justice Serafin Cuevas, also former Secretary of Justice, Remedial Law professor and Bar reviewer, wily cross-examiner, and a quick thinker. Acting as lead defense counsel, he expertly “herds” the defense team, obviously an active law practitioner. Justice Cuevas knows his trial technique, and quick on the up-take when to object, the specific ground, and a dash of subtle “lectures”, conscious as well that both he and the presiding magistrate observe mutual respect, and very articulate. Rating so far: Excellent.

Item 2 – Senator-Judges Franklin Drilon, Alan Cayetano, Francis Escudero, and even Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile seemed “compelled” to pose their clarificatory “2 minute” privilege in laying the “basis” for documentary evidence – sampled by Presiding Judge Ponce Enrile that got the smirk of Cuevas – in eliciting basic facts.

For instance, Escudero pointed out in Article 2 of the Impeachment on the “final” form, and allegations on Corona’s SALN, used as “probable cause” or specific “cause of action” such term as “suspected”, or “allegedly”, neither factual nor specific “probable cause”. The Articles of Impeachment were “railroaded” hastily that the 188 Congressmen signed them without reading, much less studying, such that, three Cebu Congressmen had an excuse of not signing the Articles. Any average law practitioner doesn’t commit such over-hasty “blunder” in ordinary pleadings, much more for impeachment indictments of no less than the Chief Justice.

Item 3 – The defense team is a well-oiled machine led by chief operator Justice Cuevas, whereas, the prosecution team appears disorganized and, its entire case theory lacks unified thrusts, as evidenced by haphazard presentation sequence, catching the defense by “surprise.” And, the prosecution relies so much on investigative media reports.

 So far, the incompetence of the prosecution panel is very glaring. The much-abused “excuse” that being lawmakers and not allowed to practice law, say, for a full tenure of nine years at a stretch, doesn’t “excuse” them from ignorance of very basic and elementary knowledge of trial technique, the law on evidence, presentation of direct examination, etc. It’s obvious that law students in “Practice Court” class could be better oriented on moot court trial procedure and technique than the prosecution panel as Week 1 of the trial has shown.

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