SEVERAL CEBU lawyers, judges and religious leaders in Cebu said the public should respect whatever verdict is reached in tomorrow’s impeachment trial as they called on the senator-judges to be objective in their decision regarding Chief Justice Renato Corona.
Earl Bonachita, president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines-Cebu City chapter, said senators should set aside political considerations in making their decision.
“I hope they will look at the evidence. Decide on the case based on the merits,” Bonachita said.
He refused to forecast how the Senate sitting as an impeachment court would decide on Corona’s fate.
“It boils down to a numbers game. I dont want to preempt them,” Bonachita said.
Associate Justice Gabriel Ingles of the Court of Appeals said the citizenry should respect the entire impeachment proceedings.
He said this includes whatever verdict the senator-judges will reach.
“The senator-judges should come up with an objective ruling,” Ingles said.
Human rights lawyer and recent Palace appointee Democrito Barcenas said he used to believe that Corona had a 50/50 chance of either conviction or acquittal from the Senate.
But when the Chief Justice walked out of the impeachment trial last Tuesday, Barcenas said he is certain Corona will be convicted.
“With that rude conduct, do you want him to remain in the Supreme Court as Chief Justice? Now, its 70/30 (70 percent for conviction),” Barcenas said.
He advised senator-judges not just to consider the issues in coming up with the verdict but Corona’s moral ascendancy as well.
“The bottomline: is the Chief Justice fit to remain in office? Consider his moral qualifications,” Barcenas said.
Msgr. Achilles Dakay, media liaison officer of the Cebu Archdiocese, said religious leaders leave Corona’s fate to the senator-judges.
“It’s not fair to judge a person prematurely,” Dakay said.
He said senator-judges should consult their individual conscience in deciding on Corona’s case.
“Let us accept the verdict whatever it is,” Dakay said.
Cebu Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal earlier advised the 23 lawmakers to be “just and impartial.”
Vidal is hoping that the impeachment proceedings will help uncover the truth.
During his testimony last Tuesday, Corona admitted that he didn’t declare in his Statement of Assets and Liabilities of Net Worth (SALN) his dollar and peso accounts.
But he said there is a need to state his dollar accounts in his SALN as stated under Republic Act 6423 or the Foreign Currency Deposit Act of the Philippines.
Corona also said he didn’t state in his SALN his peso accounts since these are “co-mingled funds.”
Public officials are required to submit their SALNs under Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.
But Corona said Republic Act 6713 does not amend the Foreign Currency Deposit Act of the Philippines.
He said he was just following the law when he didn’t declare his dollar and peso accounts.
On judgment day, each of the 23 senator-judges would be requested to state their decision.
They will be given an extendable two minutes to explain the vote. About 16 votes are needed to convict Corona. /Ador Vincent Mayol, Reporter