Corona impeachment trial to last 6 months

Posted at 12/14/11 10:03 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona's impeachment trial in the Senate will last for a maximum of 6 months, Senator Francis Escudero said Wednesday.

"Wala na kaming mapapasang batas kung lumampas pa dun," he said on ANC Primetime.

He said the Senate will not tolerate any moves to delay the impeachment proceedings.

Corona's impeachment trial in the Senate will start January 16.

Escudero said senators will first hear all 8 articles of impeachment against Corona before voting on each article.

He added that the actual voting process will be quick.

"Article 1, each will vote, 2 minutes to explain... then Article 2 (and so on)," he explained.

Under impeachment rules, 2/3 of the Senate, or 16 senators, must find Corona guilty on any one of the 8 articles of impeachment filed against him by the lower House.

Escudero said a senator may find Corona guilty in one article and declare him innocent in another.

Corona needs to be declared innocent in all 8 articles of impeachment before he walks free.

He will lose his post if he is found guilty of even just 1 of the 8 allegations against him.

"Sana matapos itong impeachment para maipakita natin to the public and to the world we can finish a process we started," Escudero said. "Hopefully once the trial commences, people will see the process is being followed."

He asked for sobriety from the Palace and Corona's camp and urged them to "act responsibly."

While he didn't directly mention a gag order once the trial starts, Escudero said he expects Corona and Aquino administration officials to air their sides during the trial proper.

He also frowned at protests launched by Corona's supporters. "If they will be doing this on a regular basis until judgment is rendered, there's something wrong with that."

He said senators are free to discuss the trial process, but not the merits of the case or their votes on the articles of impeachment.

Escudero also defended the impeachment process.

"The essence of impeachment is accountability. Walang ibang paraan na tanggalin sila sa pwesto maliban dito," he said.  "The good thing about a public hearing is the people get to be judges also. They'll hear the evidence firsthand."