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MANILA, Philippines – The truth, evidence and conscience will serve as the best guide for the senator-judges in handing the verdict on the case of Chief Justice Renato Corona, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said.
“I ask that you vote according to conscience, and the evidence. Convict Chief Justice Corona. May the truth be your guide, “ Belmonte said, summing up the closing statements earlier by Iloilo Representative Niel Tupas Jr. and Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Farinas before the Senate impeachment court.
On Wednesday, the prosecution team and the defense counsel of Corona were given one hour each to deliver their closing argument after 42 days in trial. Senator-judges are expected to vote on the case on Tuesday.
Corona’s acquittal or conviction---which would merit his removal from office---is seen to revolve around allegations that he did not make a faifthful reporting in his Statement of Assets Liabilities and Net worth (SALN), which prosecutors said constituted betrayal of public trust.
Belmonte, although not a member of the prosecution team, was allowed to make his entry of appearance in the impeachment court to deliver the final words in behalf of the prosecution team.
On December 12 last year, Belmonte led the 188 members of the House of Representatives in impeaching Corona, which sent the case to the Senate for trial. “Together we represent the people of this country: their values, their aspirations, and their sense of right and wrong. What is at stake here is the principle that those who do wrong will be held accountable by the system-- by the institutions set up by the people themselves,” Belmonte said.
Although divisive and tedious, going through the process was necessary, the House leader said, because the “people deserve something better.”
“We want a judiciary that is independent: not only of the influence of Malacanang, or Congress, but also from personal ambition and personal greed. We want a judiciary where no one can say anything offensive about our justices, because they truly live in the light of justice and integrity, and will willingly endure the harsh glare of public scrutiny, because they have nothing to hide,” he said.
Belmonte said the country does not deserve for another six years a chief magistrate like Corona.