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Question of impeachment validity sparks Enrile-Cuevas exchange

InterAksyon.com
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA, Philippines - (UPDATE: 4:12PM)  The impeachment court on Monday denied the request of the defense to present evidence to bolster its bid to question the validity of the impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Renato Corona. In ruling on the issue, which occupied nearly two hours of Day 27 of the trial, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said Corona was granted due process when he was allowed to submit a reply at the House of Representatives on the impeachment complaint against him.

Enrile said, "188 members of the House filed that articles of impeachment to this House and…ordered respondent to file answer within 10 days which the respondent Chief Justice did and a reply was equally filed by the prosecution with respect to the answer filed by the respondent so that at least this court has followed the principle of due process that is demanded."

Enrile added,  "So therefore having made the ruling that this court assumed jurisdiction under full faith and credit given to processes of House of Representatives… as much as we want to accommodate the defense, this presiding officer regrets to deny the desire of the defense."

Enrile admonishes Cuevas

At the start of trial which resumed Monday after a weeklongbreak, he defense team had raised anew the question of the validity of the impeachment complaint, sparking a stern reminder from Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, who then called a break to consult senator-judges.

Cuevas told the court that Corona was denied due process as there was no determination of probable cause.

"There is no determination of probable cause; no evidence, no allegation to prove existence of probable cause yet public officer was immediately impeached," Cuevas said.

"What we are invoking is the right of the impeached public official to his right to due process and right to due process recognizes that it is available to all proceedings including impeachment proceedings," he added.

Presiding officer Enrile, however, said that as far as the court is concerned, the impeachment complaint is already a "verified complaint."

The exchange was triggered by the court ruling denying a defense motion to subpoena several members of the House of Representatives in order to testify on the circumstances of the verification of the complaint, which the Defense insists never happened.

Enrile told Cuevas: "As long as 100 of those who filed this verified this complaint, that is the verified complaint…we have gone through trial already and we proceeded to trial, the prosecution closed its presentation of evidence, it’s now the turn of the defense and I think it is the opinion of this court that it’s too late to raise the question of verification at this point."

Cuevas pointed out that they might seek remedy from the Supreme Court on this matter, to which Enrile replied: "This court is not willing to surrender its power to make a judgment in impeachment cases. And so if the decision of this court with respect to the existence of probable cause is reviewable by SC then in the opinion of this presiding officer than that would mean SC will override judgment of impeachment court. With most regret, we will deny any interference of the judgment of this impeachment court." With a report from Karl John Reyes, InterAksyon.com


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