Day 2 of Corona Impeachment Trial

January 18, 2012

The second day of the Corona impeachment trial at the Senate proved to be interesting and delved into several basic legal principles and procedures. The first involves marital and filial privilege as brought about by the denial by the impeachment court of the prosecution’s request to subpoena the wife and children of the impeached Chief Justice. Marital and filial privilege is found under Sections 22 and 24 (a), Rule 130 of the Rules of Court, which state to wit:

“Sec. 22.Disqualification by reason of marriage. — During their marriage, neither the husband nor the wife may testify for or against the other without the consent of the affected spouse, except in a civil case by one against the other, or in a criminal case for a crime committed by one against the other or the latter’s direct descendants or ascendants.”

 “Sec. 24.Disqualification by reason of privileged communication. — The following persons cannot testify as to matters learned in confidence in the following cases:

(a)The husband or the wife, during or after the marriage, cannot be examined without the consent of the other as to any communication received in confidence by one from the other during the marriage except in a civil case by one against the other, or in a criminal case for a crime committed by one against the other or the latter’s direct descendants or ascendants.”

The second legal principle tackled is the right to self incrimination. This issue cropped up when the impeachment court denied the prosecution’s motion to subpoena several documents related to the purchase of  properties allegedly acquired by Corona and his family through ill-gotten means. The right to self-incrimination is enshrined in the Bill of Rights and found under Section 17 Article III of the 1987 Constitution which provides that “no person shall be compelled to be a witness against himself”. It is worth mentioning that an ordinary witness may invoke the right but he may only do so as each incriminating question is asked. On the other hand, an accused in a criminal case (who is akin to an impeached official) may invoke the right, but unlike the ordinary witness, he  may altogether refuse to take the witness stand and refuse to answer any and all questions.

Another legal principle that was discussed is the right of the prosecution to alter the sequence of the presentation of evidence. A lengthy debate ensued during the trial but it was unclear on whether this was indeed the right of the prosecution or merely discretionary upon the court. Eventually, it was agreed that the prosecution should just rearrange the sequence of the presentation of their evidence.

The prosecution also seemed to have forgotten the best evidence rule and the manner in presenting documentary evidence in court when Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga, one of the prosecutors, admitted before the impeachment court that they did not have witnesses to authenticate “computer-generated” documents from the Land Registration Authority (LRA) on Corona’s alleged properties. The “computer-generated documents” may not pass the best evidence rule found under Section 3, Rule 130 of the Rules of Court, which states:

“When the subject of inquiry is the contents of a document, no evidence shall be admissible other than the original document itself.”

Trial Notes….The lack of trial technique and practice of the prosecution was very evident in today’s trial….The first issue was put to vote by the senators-jurors when Senator Alan Cayetano disagreed with Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile’s ruling to deny the issuance of the subpoena to Corona’s family members. Eventually, the Senate President was upheld through a 14-6 vote. Is this a portent of things to come?….Those voting to uphold were Senators Jinggoy Estrada, Vicente Sotto III,  Edgardo Angara, Joker Arroyo, Franklin Drilon, Francis Escudero, Gregorio Honasan, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Panfilo Lacson, Lito Lapid, Sergio Osmena III, Francis Pangilinan, Ralph Recto, and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. Those opposed were Senators Alan Cayetano, Pia Cayetano, Aquilino Pimentel III, Teofisto Guingona III, Antonio Trillanes IV, and Manuel Villar….The Supreme Court averted what could have been a constitutional crisis when it did not issue a TRO on the impeachment trial.

2 Responses to “Day 2 of Corona Impeachment Trial”

  1. thank you for this information……

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