Impeachment trial, in "rodeo" atmosphere?

AS IT APPEARS - Lorenzo Paradiang Jr. -

The guessing game seems a toss-up which senator-judges are for conviction of the respondent Chief Justice, vis-à-vis those for acquittal, reckoned from the 2/3 Constitutional required vote for conviction based on the 24-Senate complete membership.

Political kibitzers may not find an accurate gauge on individual leanings from the 13 to 10 vote favoring the SC TRO against the SIC. Even a cursory scan of the vote was surprising, with the majority that includes 5 or 6 likely for conviction, and one or two for acquittal.

But what is more intriguing, and sharply quirky, is the sudden “aggressiveness” of CJ Corona in assailing the SIC, that he now unequivocally petitions the SC to stop the trial in midstream. What emboldened the hitherto “passive” Corona – complete with both hands clasped in supplication, with eyes looking up – could be the alleged 64% opinion survey in his favor.

Is the CJ too optimistic that his colleagues would grant his petition to abort the impeachment trial? The SC magistrates who voted for the TRO voiding the SIC subpoena for Corona’s foreign currency deposits, hardly varied from the SC “bloc” voting, except for 2 or 3.

Another amusing aspect is the unique role of Senator-Judge Miriam Santiago. There is no question that as former judge and law professor, she is well-versed in trial technique and evidentiary procedure. She premised her vote for the SC TRO on confidentiality of dollar deposits on six grounds that synthesized her wide grasp of remedial law.

However, keen observers find an overdose of professorial bias, if not ego, in her “lecture” on Rep. Niel Tupas of the House panel. Imagine, thumbing him down curtly whenever he wanted to react, or berating him for alleged ineptness of the prosecutors. She also treated him like a law student, and ordering him to explain legal terms as “ratio decidendi”, “obiter dictum”, and “disputable presumptions”. Finally, she insulted the over-patient solon with: “I’ll give you a grade of 3”, or 75% lowest passing rating.

In fairness, however, to Senator-Judge Santiago, her discourse on lawyers – probably referring to the prosecution panel for possible “leakage” of fake bank accounts of CJ Corona with the PSB is only fit and proper. Resorting to such dirty tactics of adducing fake evidence is not only highly illegal, but grossly unethical. Indeed, the SC and the Judiciary in general disdainfully frown at attempts to put one over the Courts with fake documents as sources of “the fruits from the poisoned tree.”

Meantime, upon resumption of the trial, uncalled for lengthy “lectures” from the chair, and the increasing “debates” between opposing panels, inter alia, with the now “emboldened” SIC non-lawyer members, are getting to be in rural “rodeo” atmosphere. The trial is delayed by doses of dizzying “carousel”, coupled with “suspensions for one long minute”, and heavy drags of reading journal pages, and their mouthful “six-shooters.”

But above all, it’s a revelation that CJ Corona appears abandoning his muted disposition, replacing it with “aggressiveness”, including his supplemental petition specifically naming five senator-judges as “losing their cold neutrality… by acting as prosecutors”. Although denied by the SIC, CJ Corona is now a fighting bulldog ready to fight back.

In fact, Corona and his defense panel were caught with their guilty minds in their mouths when they “leaked out” in a press conference the naughty info that the Palace had offered P100 M “bribery” to each SIC member “to sway the outcome of the impeachment trial”. While apologies followed, this is an added indication that henceforth, the trail may become more merry and further messier.

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