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MANILA, Philippines -- While debating with Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile on the inclusion of Chief Justice Renato Corona’s alleged use of public funds for his personal use, Ilocos Norte Representative Rodolfo Farinas caused jaws to drop when he said the impeachment complaint against the magistrate was badly crafted.
Farinas, the deputy lead prosecutor of the House of Representatives, acknowledged that he was not among the 188 lawmakers who signed the impeachment complaint because he was not able to read the entire document.
"Mabagal kasi akong bumasa eh, kaya nung prinisenta sa’min ‘yan … nung nakapirma na ‘yung panghuli -- maraming speed reader kasi diyan eh -- dahil sobra-sobra ang pumirma na, 188, ‘di na kailangan ang pirma ko at masama pagkagawa ng complaint (I read slowly and when the complaint was presented to us … when the last one had signed -- there are many speed readers there -- because so many had already signed, 188, my signature was no longer needed and the complaint was badly done)," Farinas said.
But at a press briefing, Farinas, while maintaining that the complaint was “not as good as it could be,” clarified that this did not mean it is defective.
"Ang sukatan, kung ano ang alegasyon. Kaya maliwanag ang alegasyon ay gumagamit siya ng kaban ng gobyerno para sa sarili (The yardstick is the allegation. And it is clear that the allegation is Corona’s use of public funds for himself)," Farinas said.
Farinas’ fellow impeachment prosecutors said he was merely expressing his personal opinion but noted that his inclusion in the prosecution panel showed he believed in the complaint against Corona..
Debate with Enrile
Farinas’ debate with Enrile started when the Ilocos lawmaker stood up to say Corona is accused if dipping into the public coffers for his own benefits.
Enrile pointed out that this is not included in the articles of impeachment.
The Senate had also ruled earlier that evidence of Corona’s alleged ill-gotten wealth was inadmissible in Article of Impeachment No. 2, which deals with the Chief Justice’s failure to disclose his statement of assets, net worth and liabilities.
Farinas maintained that the grounds he laid down were in the body of the impeachment complaint.
But Enrile retorted: "Ang problema sa grounds niyo, wala eh. Hindi kami boboto sa paragraphs kundi sa articles of impeachment (The problem with our grounds is that they are not there. We will not be voting on paragraphs but on the articles of impeachment.”
He also clarified the difference between his position and that of the Chief Justice when Farinas said they were on the same footing.
"Kakaiba ang nasasakdal dito, ang titulo ng Chief Justice kasama ang kanyang pwesto. Ako, ‘yung titulo ko na Senate President hindi kasama ang titulo na senador, hindi kasama ‘yun. Hindi puwedeng tingnan ang Chief Justice na hindi matatanggal sa pwesto sa mahistrado. ‘Yun ang kaibahan naming dalawa. Kaya hindi tama ‘yung sinasabi ninyo na pareho ang katayuan ng Senate President at CJ bilang pwesto (The one who stands accused here loses not just the title of Chief Justice but also the position. If I lose the title of Senate President I do not lost the title of senator, that does not come with it. ," Enrile said.
When Farinas still continued to debate with Enrile, the Senate President said: "Tapos na tayong magsalita. Testigo (We’re done talking. Witness)!"