MANILA, Philippines – The Senate acting as an impeachment court turned down a motion by Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona for preliminary hearing “for lack of merit.”
“It appeared that the filing of the verified impeachment complaint was made in accordance with paragraph 4 of Section 3 , Article II of the Constitution. There’s no more need for a preliminary hearing to receive evidence on this matter. The Senate shall forthwith proceed for that’s the mandate to us given by the Constitution with the trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona on the articles of impeachment in accordance of the mandate of the Constitution,” said Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile, who made the ruling on the motion.
“In view of the foregoing, the motion for preliminary hearing filed by the Chief Justice Corona is denied for lack for merits so ordered,” Enrile said.
After making the ruling, Enrile then called a representative from prosecution and defense teams for opening statements.
Corona’s motion was the first issue tackled by the Senate impeachment court when it formally opened the trial past 2:00 p.m.
Corona’s lead counsel, former Supreme Court Justice Serafin Cuevas, argued that the impeachment complaint filed against his client did not comply with the requirement of the Constitution when it was hastily transmitted to the Senate last Dec. 14, 2011.
Cuevas noted that Corona was not notified by the House of Representatives and was not given a chance to prove the allegations lodged against him.
“There’s no compliance with the requirement. We’re not delaying the proceeding. We’re not trying to lengthen the duration of the proceeding but were merely asserting our rights,” he said.
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