Corona impeachment prosecution continues to be out-classed by defense team

Today’s impeachment trial session (evaluating the bid to impeach Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona) seems to have been about the rigour around which the proceedings are being conducted by the senator-judges led by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile. One of the more revealing moments of the session was around the way the prosecution called for a more “liberal” and “flexible” enforcement of the rules of the trial. Some interpret this as an admission on the part of the prosecution that the evidence they present is not solid enough to withstand the scrutiny not only of the defense but of the more astute among the senator-judges. According to Rep. Neil Tupas, lead prosecutor of the House prosecution panel, the rigour being applied to the proceedings “has unduly restricted during the last two days the presentation of the evidence by the prosecution”. Enrile’s response was swift and sharp…

“What way do you want me and the court to be more flexible? Are you suggesting that we should allow misleading questions? Are you suggesting that we should allow hearsay evidence? Are you suggesting that we should allow argumentative questions?”

Tupas said this was not his intention and reiterated that they just want “flexibility” without sacrificing “due process.”

“If you want me to relax the rules, then tell me how I must do it and to what extent. [I am willing to] bend, accommodate [your suggestion to] show you that this court is not for or against anybody… but I must conduct this proceeding in an orderly manner,” [Enrile] said.

Tupas reportedly “could not explain what he wanted from the Senate”.

Just like the evidence being presented by the prosecution, not to mention the Articles of Impeachment itself which defines their very case, it seems that even simple requests that the court be “flexible” and “liberal” cannot be qualified by Tupas. Indeed, Senator Miriam Santiago showed the prosecution how such questions should be framed and submitted her suggestions on criteria for qualifying evidence, the rigour with which it is evaluated, and the manner with which its essence and context is presented.

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Then again there is a more subtle point that Tupas may need to comprehend. Step back from the whole “debate” around how “liberal” or “flexible” the impeachment court should be and regard what is really at work here. Tupas and the prosecution team are evidently handily outclassed by Corona’s defense team. As such whether it is a strict or a “liberal” application of the rules, the defense will make minced meat of Tupas’s team. Tighten the way the rules are enforced and we will likely get more of the same of Tupas’s whining. Loosen up on applying these rules and the defense team will also have more latitude to apply their brilliance to the destruction of the prosecution case.

Either way, Tupas and his guys lose. The only way they can win is to learn to be better trial lawyers.

That’s going to have to be a real hardcore crash course. Even a simple question on the presumption of innocence put forth by senator-judge Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan, while swiftly responded to by defense team leader Serafin Cuevas, momentarily stumped Tupas. Honasan’s question was around whether the basic principle of presumption of innocence is being upheld by all parties in the proceedings. Of course Cuevas, being in the defense team would re-assert that basic principle. Tupas did too (eventually), but then, he could’ve at least pointed out that as the prosecution in this trial, they necessarily need to hold a position of applying a kind of hypothesis of guilt to guide their efforts to present evidence and their arguments around these. He could have even argued to the contrary on the basis of the nature of the impeachment trial as not strictly being a criminal proceeding (a point also argued by UP Law professor Florin Hilbay) and therefore not one where presumption of innocence is fully applicable. It wouldn’t have mattered anyway, as a campaign to demonise Corona (many instances of which Tupas himself seems to have led) has been in full swing over the last several months regardless.

Recall then the fiery speech delivered by Tupas at the opening of the impeachment trial where he ended with this…

In closing, the message of the House, as the representatives of the people, is the same as that given by Oliver Cromwell when he dismissed England’s Long Parliament on April 20 of 1653. Before God and country, we say: “It is high time for us to put an end to your sitting in that place, which you have dishonored by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice, you are an enemy to good government, as you have sold your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas Escariot betrayed your God for a few pieces of gold. Depart I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!”

It seemed that a presumption of innocence was clearly anything but what the prosecution applied at the time (fair enough, in a sense, considering they are the prosecution after all). Now however, in the way Tupas balks at responding with the same conviction to Honasan’s simple question, it seems we are seeing the toll that days of unconvincing performance from the prosecution is taking on Tupas’s resolve.

38 Replies to “Corona impeachment prosecution continues to be out-classed by defense team”

  1. “…a simple question on the presumption of innocence put forth by senator-judge Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan,..”

    Many viewers thought that Senator Honasan’s point of clarification was just a pa-EPAL (puma-papel). I hope he was not the one alluded to by Senator Miriam Santiago.

    At least EPAL is much better that PALpak, as what many thought happened, again, to the prosecutors. 🙂

  2. quimbo in post session conference
    ” everybody in the country knows he has ill gotten wealth”
    the stupidity of such a comment epitomises the rank amateur approach, lack of legal principles, and a desperation tempered i suspect with frustration at tupas himself who really dropped the ball today.

    meanwhile, interesting that lapid and abs-cbn announce today they have signed a contract to do a teleserye and possibly a film later in the year!
    not very subtle.

    i wonder what quimbos views are on integrity and conflict of interest, and more importantly the 5 abs-cbn lawyers on the prosecution panel.

    shameful and shameless

    1. These people have no shame in using indefinite pronouns (us, all, everybody, etc.) to stress their pomposity.

      ”everybody in the country knows he has ill gotten wealth”

      Pwe! May kahihiyan ba kayo!

      Ang kakapal nyo!

    2. Pray tell me as to how Quimbo knows that Corona has acquired ill-gotten wealth? Does he have some kind of secret information that he is only privy ?

      Goes to show how desperate and determined the Yellow cabal in applying black propaganda is to take down Corona. It also shows the lawless attitude of the administration.

      The hero’s son has become the monster that his father fought against. What delicious irony…..

  3. Looks like the idiot vincenzo is absent yet again.
    It looks like he can’t accept the fact that his prosecution team is nearly ready to TAP OUT of this fight.

  4. Mr. Aquino’s henchman/persecutor Neil Tupas is considered brilliant by his master. Brilliant in black propaganda, trial by publicity(guilty before trial) and deceit.

    The distraction provided by the political circus act of the prosecution is not good. It conceals the hidden agenda of Mr. Aquino. This is his continued association with the varied groups of the left of center progressives, socialists, mainstream Communist Party of the Philippines, National Democratic Front and the New People’s Army. Will there be a power sharing coalition with the communists participating in government?

      1. Let us ponder this question… Is the ongoing national spectacle of the Senate Impeachment Trial planned/timed to divert the public’s attention away from an ongoing evil conspiracy? The red enemy is already within and past the gates.

        1. It can be…they are already in the Office of Noynoy Aquino, serving with him…they’re the one pulling the strings, behind him…men in the shadows…so, let’s all be vigilant, including our soldiers in the AFP…
          Fidel Castro of Cuba did that scenario, when he was part of the coalition government, after the Dictator Batista was overthrown…

  5. quimbo in post session conference
    ”everybody in the country knows he has ill gotten wealth”

    No shit, Sherlock! Should have worked on forensically digging for evidence instead of playing drama scenes on TV.

  6. I saw this earlier on the news, and the prosecution team even look helpless when Miriam Defensor asked how many total witnesses they have to present in court. When Tupas was not able to answer the question properly, I almost fell off my chair with the remark of Senator Miriam, “That’s not acceptable. You come to court prepared. You will not waste the time of this court.”

  7. It seemed that a presumption of innocence was clearly anything but what the prosecution applied at the time (fair enough, in a sense, considering they are the prosecution after all).

    True, but what matters in court is evidence, while in media, it’s ‘drama and sensationalism’ that matters. Tupas is only useful as a piece of media entertainment. Inside the court—at least a genuine one—evidence is what counts. Presumption of innocence could only be upheld if the rules of evidence are sufficiently met—and this requires a level of rigor in the way one has to present one’s proof. Inside the court, they are pretty clear on the distinction between truth/fact and mere hearsay. Unfortunately, media and publicity try to confuse these two. Media and entertainment is about building alternate realities and fantasies—They couldn’t care less about evidence. Following evidence tend to be a sober exercise, but drama-seeking party-loving spectators prefer the loud and rambunctious.

    AbNoy is pretty pleased with how Tupas was so far able to besmirch to disqualify Corona from participating further in the HL case. If their purpose were truly in order to sift out truth (whatever it actually means to them), AbNoy should still be dissatisfied given the poor performance of the prosecution.

    1. This was evident from the very start — particularly in the way the sloppily-written impeachment articles were first steamrollered through Congress. Those 188 Congressmen are now looking like a bunch of chumps.

  8. just an ordinary citizen of our country but it seems that the prosecution group is not ready . why are they so in a hurry to prosecute when in fact it seems the allegations are baseless . Do they follow Pnoy whims without thinking. Are they wanting to fit in the popularity of Pnoy and just use the slogan of it is the people’s clamor for justice? My observation is that Pnoy is so vindictive and thinks all connected with GMA are bad. Are all the people around him good?

    1. definitely no!!!Some of the people around him were those same people who marched in a well known hotel during the time FGMA was on the edge of being accused of election cheating regarding the Hello Garci incident…they resigned from their post hoping that FGMA would falter and leave Her position as President. They were replaced by more capable economic team which led us to have a better economy. Now, THEY are again back in the government positions??They did not perform well then, so how on earth would they be able to do better now?????(wala na bang ibang Filipino na may mas tataas pang kakayahan para sa mga posisyong ito??)kaya siguro bumaba ang ekonomiya natin?????Talaga bang malaki ang pera sa gobyerno??I am not pro GMA or Pnoy..just a simple citizen of this republic who happens to have an opinion of observing “”utang na loob” payment and always blaming the past administration on the continuing frustrations and Kapalpakan of this current administration..

  9. If you have a sister or brother, who was murdered…You go to Court for the Trial of the Murderer, with your Counsel…
    Then, the Defense Attorney of the Murderer, asked the Judge to : Relax and Liberalize his Rules of Court and Court proceedings to accomodate the Defense in the case…
    What would you think? It’s not only ridiculous, but nonsense.
    Tupas and his Prosecuting Team showed: they don’t know the Court proceedings and the Rules of Court…
    How did these Lawyers passed the Bar Exam?

  10. 1) I am a bit alarmed by the remarks of Sen. Santiago when she said her stand on “relaxing” the rules considering that she is a trained trial lawyer and was an RTC judge at that. If there would be anyone among the senators whom I expect to have the highest appreciation of rules of court, it would be Sen. Santiago.

    2) Perhaps what the defense should emphasize is that they are not against the presentation of evidence on ill-gotten wealth allegation provided that the complaint would have to be amended by the lower house. They should highlight the fact that there are rules covering these situations that must be respected and followed. If we go otherwise, e magrambulan at magbakbakan na lang sa senado sa kahit paanong paraan. That will surely get public interest.

    1. Regarding Sen. Santiago’s stand about the “relaxing” part, she explained the reason why she agreed with the prosecution’s request to allow them to present evidence against Corona’s alleged ill-gotten wealth. She based her experience from Erap’s impeachment trial when she was “demonized” due to the fact that she did not vote to open the 2nd envelope.

    1. Nope, they should just commit hara-kiri or seppuku to save themselves the burden of being called laughing stocks.

  11. good. the incestuous nature of p-noy govt and abs-cbn needs to be exposed.
    wouldnt be surprised if they want/get the NBN assets at a knock down price – nbn workers have not been paid for 3 months!
    and now that abs-cbn are also kris aquinos main publicist the system stinks on so many levels.
    and their mole on the inside caradang feeding info no doubt.
    the rappler link – ex abs-cbn staff completes the unholy alliance
    someone said they are grateful because cory gave the lopezes back the network?
    cnn or bbc paying to defend president or prime minister!. they would be off the air in a matter of hours.

  12. tulad ng mga nasabi na dito noon pa, ang mga nag uusig ay hindi handa dahil ang akala nila matatakot si corona at mag bibitiw na lang sa lumaban, bigla silang supalpal at nag kakadandarapa sa paghahanap ng ebidensya…tapos dahil kapos at hindi handa, humihingi pa ng pabor na dahan-dahanin lang sila…kung pede lang talaga alisin sa pwesto ang mga mentally-challenged na ito…wait di ba pede i-fire out ang mga eto..di ba tayo ang boss nila? try ko lang mag tagalog, hirap pala specially since it is only my second language

  13. BenignO

    “God could not condemn Adam without a trial because even God must presume that Adam was innocent until proven guilty.”–Innocent Until Proven Guilty: The Origins of a Legal Maxim (2001) by Kenneth Pennington, Kelly-Quinn Professor of Ecclesiastical History, Columbus School of Law, The Catholic University of America

    Here’s what this guy claims at:
    and biography at:

    In brief:

    “The most sophisticated and complete summing up of juristic thinking about the rights of defendants in the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries is found in the work of a French canonist, Johannes Monachus who died in 1313 … he formulated an expression of a defendant’s right to a trial and to due process with the following words: a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty (item quilbet presumitur innocens nisi probetur nocens). This fact is a double blow to Anglophilic sensibilities: not only is the maxim not found in Anglo-Saxon source, it was not even expressed English! This then is the ultimate irony of the story: rather than a sturdy Anglo-Saxon, a cardinal of the Roman church, a Frenchman, a canonist, Johannes Monachus was the first European jurist to recognize the inexorable logic of God’s judgment of Adam: God could not condemn Adam without a trial because even God must presume that Adam was innocent until proven guilty.”

  14. Nice article Benigno!

    I don’t really expect much from the prosecution team. In the first place, they’re not really involved in this fiasco. They let themselves be used by PNoy to manage CJ Corona out. These 188 congressmen were not really involved in battling Corona. So they come out from the shadows all of a sudden declaring their belief that the CJ is corrupt. Now, they’re trying so hard to find evidence. Funny how they claim that the SALN has irregularities while they’ve only seen it a few days ago.

    I hope that people will see how the administration, and the media that supports it, manipulates. I’m tired of hearing “katotohanan” from the anti-Corona groups. For me, the katotohanan is that Pnoy is incompetent and that this impeachment trial is a waste of time. The focus should be on economy, health, education, and recently disaster management and environment should also be a priority.

  15. After enrile and santiago bow out of the senate who else has the intellect and gravitas to conduct such proceedings.
    Stop electing actors and nobodies. Ex senator aquino underlines the point. The flotsam and jetsam of elitist inbreeding ends up in a political rubbish dump called the senate.
    The peter principle – people rise to their level of incompetence
    The p-noy principle – people serve to their amount of bullsh#t

  16. Pnoy pol adviser caught purchasing fake dvd.

    Piracy is not our number one priority- Pnoy

    look who’s laughing all the way to the bank

  17. Why does the prosecution ask for “flexibility” in the rules? It’s because they cannot win much less argue their case without circumventing and distorting the case. I applaud and approve Sen. Enrile’s answer to Tupas’s whining and this must is a warning to any Yellow advocates, their idol is not man guided by righteousness and justice, but unrighteousness and injustice.

  18. Di dapat manalo prosecution kasi lalo magiging mayabang si penoy. Akala mo kung sinong santo e wala naman naipasa batas yan. Nga pla, di ba si tupaz ay may kaso ang tatay niya sa ombudsman? Look who is talking!

    1. @Nati, yes about Tupas. I had been meaning to say this but always forget, that Tupas has an axe to grind, if I remember right during Arroyo’s term his father was to be evicted from his governor’s or mayor’s office (I can’t remember), but the whole family disagreed and camped inside the capitol. They were on TV. Revenge is consuming him, not love of this fun country.

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