Aside from their obvious incompetence, there are reports that seem to indicate that members of the prosecution team in the trial of the impeachment complaint against Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona do not practice good teamwork. This became most evident when Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo FariÃ±as walked out in the middle of the proceedings on the second week of the trial. FariÃ±as reportedly walked out because he became frustrated at being on the sidelines even after repeatedly expressing his desire to take over the floor:
After his walkout, FariÃ±as told reporters he wanted to take the floor when Sen Miriam Defensor-Santiago was grilling private prosecutor Arthur Lim, but he was supposedly blocked by fellow prosecutors.
“Sanay ako na I take charge eh,” he said. “Ano ako dun, dekorasyon… Maraming nagte-text sa akin bakit daw hindi ako nagsasalita,” he added.
[Above translated: â€œI am used to taking charge. What am I there? Decoration? I’ve been receiving a lot of text messages asking why I am not speaking upâ€.]
This is not the first time that FariÃ±as was blocked from taking the floor. He also wanted to take the floor on Tuesday when the trial resumed this week and when the lead prosecutor was being grilled. He was likewise blocked.
A lot of people have been wondering why the prosecution team seems to be headed by lawyers who appear to be inexperienced and consistently ill-prepared for the tasks at hand. Even pro-Corona supporters want some of the lead prosecutors replaced so the trial wonâ€™t be further delayed. The prosecutors are indeed very frustrating and the way they present their case only adds to the confusion during the proceedings. Congressman and lead prosecutor Niel Tupas Jr looks like he is only good at grandstanding with his balagtasan style of speaking when he is on the floor. This was obvious from the beginning particularly when he, quoting Oliver Cromwell, compared Chief Justice Corona to characters from the Bible in his opening speech. Private prosecutor Arthur Lim even caused Senator-Judge Miriam Santiagoâ€™s blood pressure to shoot up on the seventh day because he refused to answer Santiagoâ€™s questions properly and appeared to be dismissive.
Representative FariÃ±asâ€™s dramatic walk out was not in vain though. The bar topnotcher who ranked 8th in the 1978 Bar was finally named deputy chief prosecutor of the House panel by Tupas. It is a shame that such temper tantrums had to be displayed in full view of the public. Economist and television commentator Solita â€œWinnieâ€ Monsod was very spot-on when she said â€œthey act like a pack of wolvesâ€…
The pictures that come forcibly to mind when I observe the behavior of the Executive and the Lower House in the matter of the impeachment of CJ Renato Corona are of a pack of wolves circling their prey, or of a couple of bullies ganging up on someone half their size. And my natural instinct — or rather my sense of fair play — leads me to take the side of the underdog (pardon the horribly mixed metaphors). What is more, I have a feeling the Filipino people are getting just as uncomfortable as I am.
Some of the delays in the proceedings so far have been due to either the evidence not being properly marked or the lengthy discussions regarding the rules of the court for the benefit mainly of the prosecutors who seem to be either unfamiliar with these or inclined towards disregarding them. Those are things that could have been done with or discussed had there been a pre-trial; something which the defense team requested to have on Day One and which the court unfortunately did not allow.
Despite the clarity of the rules, the prosecution team seems to be hell-bent on violating them. Evidence that has not been presented or authenticated in court continue to make its way around media networks that are said to be owned and operated by people close to President Noynoy Aquino. Columnists and journalists make their own damning conclusions about the impeachment case against Corona everyday. A report on Day 7 published by GMANetwork.com described the sloppy way that evidence surrounding the case was being handled…
– Senator-judge Joker Arroyo expressed alarm that documents marked the previous days that have not yet been admitted as evidence in the case, such as the income tax returns (ITRs) of Corona, have already been released to media. He said ITRs are not public documents and should be held â€œsacrosanctâ€ and â€œvery, very confidential.â€
– Senator-judge Pia Cayetano asked the prosecution panel or defense team if they had released the documents to the public, noting that Coronaâ€™s ITRs have been repeatedly shown on television and the Internet.
– Cayetano said the public had to distinguish between the marking, the presentation, and the offer of evidence before releasing documents to the public or the media. She said documents merely marked as evidence should not be paraded around in media to mislead the public into thinking the documents have already been offered as evidence.
– Arroyo stressed that the impeachment court has to admit the marked documents as evidence before these would become public documents.
Consider too how Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Commissioner Kim Henares did more than what was asked of her while on the Witness Stand. Aside from presenting information about the income taxes and value of real estate purchases of Chief Justice Corona and his wife, Henares also presented data on income taxes and real estate purchased by Coronaâ€™s children even when they were not the ones on trial and even when the tribunal supposedly forbade the evidence. It was said that Henaresâ€™s overzealous presentation was upon the direction of PNoy.
Also notable was how Henares tended to readily give her opinion about the financial capacity of Coronaâ€™s children to buy properties beyond their declared income. This despite the fact that Henares is not privy to the other sources of income of the other members of Coronaâ€™s extended family. Upon cross examination by the leader of the defense team, Serafin Cuevas, Henares appeared too defensive and frustrated by questions that only warranted a simple â€œyesâ€ or â€œnoâ€ answer. It may have been hard for Henares to respond to the questions if she were aware of the case regarding Corona but it was easy for her to form an opinion about Coronaâ€™s financial capacity.
More disturbing, and something Senator-Judge Joker Arroyo himself noticed, is how the BIR commissioner seemed overly excited to announce that she had directed a separate initiative to investigate tax records pertaining to Coronaâ€™s two daughters, Ma. Carla Corona-Castillo and Ma. Czarina Corona, registered owners of some prime real estate properties.
This caused Senator Arroyo to feel compelled to tell that BIR commissioner that her move might be over the top:
â€œRemember the question here is one of policy. We donâ€™t want the public to think that the forces of government are being used (in) the impeachment initiated by the House of Representatives and now tossed to the Senate for trial, then another one before the BIR for some tax malfeaseance or whatever. Im not questioning any, but (Iâ€™m raising) my concern,â€ Arroyo said.
BIR commissioner Henares might have inadvertedly admitted that her department does not do their job properly. If they did, they would have been routinely on top of what she says are inconsistencies between the income tax and the cost of the real estate properties owned by the Coronas way before the impeachment complaint was even conceived.
Pending the presentation of all the evidence and the witnesses especially from the defense team, the inconsistencies seem to all be coming from the prosecution team. The lack of coordination among themselves and their witnesses says a lot about the fact that they may not be acting solely of their own will. A good team usually consists of people who are aware of both the collective accountability of the team and their own individual accountability to their assigned tasks. They may have different responsibilities but work towards a common goal. From the way the prosecutors are acting, they might have a common goal of getting rid of Chief Justice, Corona but they do not appear to know how they go about achieving this together.
[Photo of Kim Henares courtesy Yahoo Philippines News.]
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