When the Prosecution in the impeachment trial was presenting evidence, I was constantly irked by senator-judges acting as prosecuting lawyers. Now, the same thing is happening. The senator-judges are doing the job for the defense.
Yesterday, the Defense lawyer seemed inexperienced. He called the Land Registration Authority administrator Atty. Diaz III, Pres. Aquino’s classmate and batch mate at the Ateneo, as defense witness. His questioning was so lackadaisical, esp. since Presiding Senator-Judge Ponce-Enrile insisted that the Prosecution just admit the evidence at hand. I didn’t bother to watch him finish his questioning because he didn’t seem to even have the intention of impeaching the witness.
For me, there is no important reason to call the witness except to impeach him. The 45 real estate properties is old news. The prosecution have already whittled it down to 24. And the defense has further whittled that down to 11 with Demetrio Vicente’s appearance and the 6 parking slots. That was still further whittled down yesterday and today.
The best reason to call that witness was to impeach him by showing the inaccuracies of the list – which included people unknown to the Coronas and cancelled titles. I would have imputed upon him malice in conniving with the Prosecution, or at the very least, sheer incompetence (which is punishable under Civil Service Rules).
When I came back to watch the proceedings on TV, I saw Sen. Arroyo almost trying to impeach the witness but he didn’t want to argue with the witness so he instead “impeached” the prosecution. Sens. Cayetano and Legarda finally “impeached” the witness but only up to a point.
I don’t know if the Defense lawyer impeached the witness. I doubt it. He should thank the senator-judges for doing the job for him.
Today, the continuation of the examination of Atty. Diaz produced the same results. The Defense seemed to be happy that Diaz confirmed, and stipulated upon by the Prosecution, that some 17 titles are actually cancelled titles and some 12 TCTs are not owned by the Corona couple.
But that still left 16 TCTs plus the 5 TCTs which the Prosecution stipulated that they had proven to be owned by the Coronas. So, it was back to 21 properties. The people faithfully watching the proceedings had already whittled it down to at least 11, including the ones owned by the Corona children.
It took a Senator-judge (Recto) to remind everyone again the real count: 21 minus 3 parking lots minus the 7 Vicente lots equals 11. 11 minus 4 owned by the Corona children equals 7.
When Justice Cuevas continued his re-direct on the witness, I thought he was finally on the right track. But when JPE asked him if he was impeaching the witness, he stopped his questioning!
Why was he afraid to impeach the witness?! The witness did not give him good evidence. Anything that he confirmed was already proven BY THE VERY DOCUMENTS THEMSELVES. Are Filipino lawyers trained NOT to impeach witnesses?
Again, it took senator-judges to “impeach” the witness. Senator-judge Miriam D. Santiago showed that the witness was guilty of GROSS NEGLIGENCE. Senator-judges Marcos, Pia Cayetano and Jinggoy Estrada took turns in “impeaching” the witness.
What would the lawyers of both sides do without the senator-judges?!!!
The lawyers in the impeachment trial (the Defense team and the Private Prosecutors) are supposed to be the country’s best and brightest. While Justice Serafin Cuevas of the Defense is superb when it comes to arguing legal points, I am not impressed with his direct or cross-examination skills. I wonder if there really are lawyers like Perry Mason or McKenzie, Brackman, Chaney & Kuzak of L.A. Law or Bobby Donnell (The Practice) or Ally McBeal or Allan Shore and Denny Crane of Boston Legal or Patty Hewes (Damages) or Owen Marshall or Sebastian Shark or Petrocelli or Eli Stone or the lawyers of Law and Order. Or is reality simply so different from TV land?
See related post: Senator-Judges Inadvertently Came To The Defense’s Rescue