Taking advantage of the five-week break in the impeachment trial at the Senate, two members of the defense team of controversial Chief Justice Renato Corona yesterday came to Bacolod and told Negrenses to be wary of what they call “half-truths and lies” being peddled and propagated by those who want his ouster from the Supreme Court.
Defense team members Karen Jimeno and Rico Paolo Quicho yesterday said they are convinced that Corona will be acquitted by the Senate acting as impeachment court, stressing that no evidence has been presented, except a piece of paper that contained “allegations.”
“The evidence presentedwas only based on news reports,” Quicho said.
He claimed that the verified complaint, signed by members of the House of Representatives under threat and forwarded to the Senate, was hastily prepared.
“They made accusations first before looking for evidence,” Quicho told participants of a forum at the Benjamin Hall in Bacolod City, that was attended by more than 100 Negrenses, among them former Bacolod Rep. Monico Puentevella, Bacolod Councilor Carl Lopez, some members of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines-Negros Occidental chapter, businessmen and supporters of defeated presidential candidate Gilbert Teodoro.
“If they can do this against Chief Justice Corona, how much more to an ordinary individual, who will not follow what they want,” he said adding that this will send a chilling effect to the public.
Corona is undergoing an impeachment trial for allegedly omitting to include properties in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth, and allegedly jeopardizing his integrity for flip-flopping on final and executory cases.
Jimeno rallied Negrenses to stand by the rule of law, and shared the observation of her colleagues in the defense team about the “fishing expedition” of the prosecution to gather evidence during the impeachment court hearing.
A day before the forum, Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda and his deputy, Abigail Valte, were in Bacolod City.
Valte denied that they were in Bacolod to make a pitch against Corona, stressing that their visit was aimed atdiscussing the work of the President Benigno Aquino III, and to listen to the concerns of the Negrenses.
Lacierda had said that President Aquino has taken a stand against Corona because he wants judicial reform. He does not want to control the judiciary, he said.
While Corona and his wife are willing to take the witness stand, Quicho said they are not inclined to let them, because they have enough evidence to rebut the allegations of the prosecution panel.
The impeachment trial will resume on May 7.
Quicho said they expect to present evidences in two to three weeks.
He also said that they strongly believe there is an organized attempt to besmirch the reputation of Corona to force him to resign, andreplace him with someone, who may be controlled by the appointing authority, which, he said, is a dangerous move.
But as long as Corona is still there, the independence of the judiciary will be assured, he claimed.
Five of the eight impeachment charges were dropped by the prosecution panel, and indicates that they do not have strong evidence against the Chief Justice, Quicho said.
Of the 45 properties allegedly owned by Corona and his family as claimed by the prosecution panel, only five have been confirmed and explained thoroughly by the Chief Justice, while the rest are mere fabrications, he added.
Quicho also said they expect the Senate judges to resolve the impeachment complaints, based on the evidences presented.* GPB