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MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATE, 7:06 p.m.) One of the lawyers of Chief Justice Renato Corona was cited in contempt Monday when he alleged that the senator-judges were being offered P100 million to convict the chief magistrate.
The Senate, which is currently sitting as an impeachment court, would meet in a caucus to decide on the penalty to be imposed on lawyer Jose Roy III, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said.
"This court must assert its dignity and honor in this proceeding. We are going to think about the penalty commensurate to the degree of what is considered to be an accusation against the members of this court," Enrile said during Monday’s trial.
Enrile said that Roy’s statement was “rather serious,” adding that “in effect it suggests that this court could be paid in making a decision.”
In a press conference called by the defense panel last month, Roy said that the panel received information from a source that Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa was calling up senators and dangling a P100-million bribe to defy the Supreme Court decision against opening of dollar accounts allegedly owned by Corona.
He later apologized to the senator-judges for his statements.
In a separate ruling, the impeachment court said it would no longer impose penalty on lawyer Vitaliano Aguirre, the prosecution’s private lawyer who was also cited in contempt for putting his hands over his ears while Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago was talking. Aguirre had withdrawn from the roster of private prosecutors and apologized to the senators.
"Why only me, it was a concerted efforts from us, why singling me out," Defense panel Atty. Jose Judd Roy III said in an interview after the trial.
After the trial, in a press conference, Roy said: "My apology and the apology of the defense. We stand by our actions. I accept your judgment and I thank you for sparing defense counsel. Be that as it may, it is my privilege to serve the penalty…I honor judgment of the court."