It took all of 26 minutes before the 41st day of trial adjourned. There were 22 senators present and guess who was conspicuously absent. Hmm…Tatang Cuevas wore black, a change from his usual white and off-white formal suit of the past. Bear with me, I am just making you laugh but the trial is no laughing matter though.
Will there be a mistrial? (I bet the Impeachment Court won’t allow that). Was the CJ buying time knowing what he did yesterday? (Your guess is as good as mine). Was the walkout scripted? (Hmm, watch the videos and tell me if it was). His parting words, the way they were delivered yesterday were more of a statement than asking the Impeachment Court to be excused from the trial. It seemed that he read it from the last part of his long, long, long opening statement. Did he really plan not to subject himself to cross-examination by just walking out? Even non-lawyers like me understand that what he did was a total disrespect for the Impeachment Court, an unacceptable behaviour of someone who should know and is expected to know the rules because, he is, after all, the chief justice right?
Early in our younger years, we were taught to say, “Ma’am/Sir, may I go out”, if we feel the urge to satisfy the call of nature and we have to wait for a yes from our teacher to be able to run and do our thing outside. Suffice to say, the CJ could have asked politely that he was tired and begged to be excused for a while and I am pretty sure the IC would have granted his request.
In an earlier interview on Headstart, Senator-Judge Pia Cayetano was so stunned to see how the CJ behaved and she surmised that the CJ both wanted to be a witness and a jury. In his testimony, he said that he owns dollar accounts but never divulged the amount and he saw no point in including these in his SALNs because he was protected by the Foreign Currency Deposit Act. Senator-Judge Pangilinan however, emphasized that if there is a conflict between the Constitution (the filing of SALN and proper disclosure of assets, liabilities and net worth) and a law which is the Foreign Currency Deposit Act, then the Constitution will prevail. Being a CJ, he certainly knew it.
The trial started at 2:05pm with Tatang Cuevas making a manifestation and explaining the absence of their client from trial today, the stumbling block being the mental and physical condition of the latter because he is presently confined at the ICU of the Medical City Hospital. The Defense submitted a copy of the medical certificate and they cannot assure when the CJ is coming to face direct and cross-examinations. The Prosecution manifested that if the CJ will only come back for the cross-examination then they would waive their right to cross-examine but if the Defense would do a direct, then they will proceed with the cross. Enrile made a ruling and gave the Defense until Friday to present Corona and oral argument was scheduled on Monday. At the latest, they would render decision on Tuesday. The senator-judges touched on the conditional waiver issued by Corona that he will only submit it if the 188 congressmen who signed the impeachment and Sen. Drilon would submit theirs. As I’ve said, who is on trial here? Do you think that is a wise move CJ or just another delaying tactic on your part? They will have their day in court if they would be found guilty of the same thing. I just find it a bit ridiculous that for you to divulge your hidden wealth, you have to drag down everyone who is not on trial as you are. . But I am still praying that you get well soon and face the music…we are waiting!
And here’s the latest news on TV:
Retired Maj. Gen. Jose Balajadia Jr.(the Senate’s Sgt-At-Arms) said he personally stopped Corona and his wife while they were trying to exit through a door at the back of the session hall near the senators’ lounge with their bodyguards.
“I’m sorry, sir,” Balajadia recalled telling Corona after Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile ordered all doors in the Senate to be locked.
Corona then retorted, “Are you arresting me?”
“He was looking at me straight in the eye,” Balajadia said.
He said he tried to explain Enrile’s order to Corona, but his wife, Cristina, interrupted him.
“Is this martial law?” she reportedly told Balajadia.