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MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATE 2 - 3:24 p.m.) On the 40th day of his impeachment trial, Chief Justice Renato Corona finally took the witness stand in his own defense and prefaced his testimony to declare his conscience “clean” and, at one point, breaking down in tears.
“Mga minahamal kong kababayan, nandito ako sa impeachment trial upang tumupad sa aking pangako sa sambayanan upang magpaliwanag sa lahat (My beloved countrymen, I am here at the impeachment trial to fulfill my promise to the people to explain everything),” Corona said in a statement he read before he was sworn in to testify.
"Malinis po ang aking konsensya at ito po ay sinasabi ko sa sambayanang Pilipino. Uulitin ko po, malinis po ang aking konsensya (My conscience is clean and I am saying this to the Filipino people. I repeat, my conscience is clean)," Corona said in a statement he read before he was sworn in.
He also scored the Aquino administration, which he said used “the whole machinery of government against me, poured the whole force of the administration just to remove one person.”
"They broke all laws to fish for evidence against me. They attempted to pin me down via means that undermine our laws," Corona said.
He lamented that his trial had been marked by “anger, hatred, revenge against one person.”
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile interrupted Corona a number of times to ask how much longer he needed but allowed the magistrate to proceed.
And when private prosecutor Mario Bautista rose to object to Corona’s tirade against President Benigno Aquino III, Enrile cut him short and said the Chief Justice could continue.
Corona at times waxed defiant as when he said a senator he did not name threatened to expose him in public.
“Tingan natin (Let us see),” he said.
Corona also said there were three reasons why Aquino allegedly wants him ousted: Hacienda Luisita, the Tarlac sugar estate owned by the President’s family and which the Supreme Court ordered distributed to farmers; Aquino’s alleged desire to control all three branches of government; and the alleged takeover of government by the Left, as personified by presidential political adviser Ronald Llamas and his cohorts.
As Corona recounted what he said was his family’s “simple life,” he broke down in tears and Enrile declared a two-minute suspension.