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MANILA -- (UPDATE, 6:08 p.m.) The defense lawyers of Chief Justice Renato Corona on Monday asked Senator-Judge Edgardo Angara to inhibit himself from the proceedings due to conflict of interest.
Defense spokesman Rico Quicho declined to give more details on the motion pending discussion at the impeachment court but confirmed that the motion to inhibit was filed today.
"We raised the possibility of a situation of conflict of interest," Quicho told reporters. Angara's son, Rep. Sonny Angara, is a spokesman for the prosecution team.
Asked why the motion was filed only now, Quicho said: "Ngayon lang naging malinaw ang mga facts (The facts became clear only now)."
In response to the motion, Angara Sr. categorically said he will not inhibit himself at the impeachment trial.
“I won’t inhibit myself period. It is our constitutional duty to perform our task as senator-judge in an impeachment trial. Besides, i have nothing to do with the appointment of my son (Quezon Rep. Sonny Angara) as spokesperson of the House prosecution panel,” Angara said after the trial adjourned.
Angara said that the argument laid down by the defense panel at the impeachment court for his inhibition “is baseless.”
For one, he said, his son Sonny is not a party to the litigants nor will benefit from any result or outcome of the trial.”
“If the brother or son of the Senate president is the spokesperson of the prosecution, do you think it will diminish the credibility and impartiality of the Senate president in presiding the impeachment trial?” he argued.
He said that he and his son have not talked to each other since the trial in order the preserve the integrity of the process and erase doubts that there are “connivance” between him and the prosecution.
“For the last five months, the impeachment trial has caused a barrier for family bonding. We have not talked nor consulted each other on the impeachment trial,” Angara said.
Meanwhile, Senator Lito Lapid shared Angara’s sentiment and urged his colleagues not to be pressured into not performing his duties under the Constitution.
“Kung ako si Sen. Angara, hindi ako mag-iinhibit kasi it is our rights and duties under the Constitution na ipagtanggol namin ang aming bayan (If I were Sen. Angara, I will not inhibit because it is our right and our duty under the Constitution to defend our land),” Lapid said.
The prosecution team blasted the defense panel for asking Senator Angara to inhibit from voting in the trial, calling it an “ambush.”
“They’ve been planning to do it, they only did it at a time when it appears that it’s going to be an ambush,” Marikina Representative Romero Federico Quimbo said in a news conference.
Aurora Representative Juan Edgardo Angara, son of the senator and another prosecution spokesman, said the motion is tantamount to a “vote for acquittal.”
“This is a vote for acquittal, because you wont be able to reach the needed 16 votes,” Angara said.
Parrying the defense team’s charges that special favors have been granted to the Aurora special economic zone that could influence the vote of the senator, Representative Angara said that the province indeed got a huge budget in the past few years but his district rightfully deserved it.
Quezon Representative Lorenzo Tanada III, another prosecution spokesman, said the motion is unfair to the Angaras, saying both lawmakers would be deciding on their own.
“I think it’s a desperate move by the defense to try to impute certain malicious thoughts on the people’s minds that both don’t have the independent minds needed to make certain decisions,” Tanada said.