MANILA, Philippines – Lawyer Ferdinand Topacio on Tuesday said former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is “wary” of appearing before the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona.
Topacio said while Arroyo is always willing to participate in any legal proceeding, she is wary of the purpose of the House prosecution team.
“In this case, we view with a certain degree of cynicism the plan to summon her to testify, because we cannot possibly define what the purpose is for her to testify… I think the term should be ‘wary’, of the motives of the House prosecutors in considering to summon her," he told ANC.
“We shall first see [if Arroyo will testify], because as of now, all these things are conjectural. Because according to [lead prosecutor] Niel Tupas, up to now they are still uncertain as to whether or not to issue subpoena,” he added.
Topacio added the prosecution may just want to summon Arroyo for political grandstanding, and that other evidence may render the former President’s testimony unnecessary.
“We shall examine the purpose, because if what they are trying to prove is bias, alleged bias, or partiality [of Corona to Arroyo], there are other evidence which they may submit to the Senate acting as an impeachment court to attempt to prove that, even without the testimony of Mrs. Arroyo,” he said.
“I think she’s being made a sideshow for a carnival of the own doing of those who want to be elected senators in the House of Representatives,” he added.
Arroyo testimony could backfire
Meanwhile, lawyer Harry Roque warned the prosecution that requesting the impeachment court to summon Arroyo could backfire on their case against Corona.
Roque said while it is important for the prosecution for Arroyo to establish her relationship with Corona before the court, the former President may also take the opportunity to explain why she appointed to the position the embattled chief justice, who some say is a midnight appointee.
“Sa isang punto, importante na malaman ng tao nga ang dahilan kung bakit in-appoint ni Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo si Corona - ano ba talaga ang relasyon nila at makita kung talagang pu-puwdeng bigyan ng prayoridad ni Corona ang kanyang malapit na pakikisama kay GMA kaysa sa Saligang Batas,” Roque said in an interview on Umagang Kay Ganda’s Punto por Punto.
“Sa kabilang punto naman, eh matalinong witness itong si GMA… ibig sabihin, gamble po iyan, dahil siya ay isang matalinong witness. Baka mamaya mag-backfire at sasabihin lang ni Arroyo: ‘talaga ko lang siyang in-appoint dyan dahil sa aking paningin eh siya ang pinaka karapat-dapat na maging chief justice,’ at masisira din ang kaso ng prosecution,” he added.
For her part, Corona defense panel member Karen Jimeno said it does not matter if Arroyo appears before the court, since the chief justice is not guilty of the allegation of being partial to the former president.
“Kung wala namang pagkakasala si Chief Justice Corona, kahit sino pa ang witness na ilabas ng prosecution ay makakatulong kay Chief Justice Corona dahil wala naman siyang itinatago,” Jimeno said.