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House members deny rift in Corona prosecution team

THE House prosecution panel denied Friday that the decision of its lead prosecutor to close the possibility of Associate Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno testifying before the impeachment court has created a rift among its members.
“There is no rift between me and Congressman Niel Tupas. I regret the missed opportunity. The prosecution panel must now prepare for the defense’s presentation of witnesses next week,” Bayan Muna party-list Representative Neri Colmenares said in a text message Friday.
Colmenares is the lead prosecutor for Article 7 of the impeachment complaint, which accuses Chief Justice Renato Corona of betrayal of public trust for his alleged partiality in granting a temporary restraining order (TRO) in favor of the Arroyo couple.

Sereno was supposed to testify on her dissenting opinion over the conditions set by the Supreme Court (SC) in relation to the TRO allowing the Arroyo couple to leave the country.

Colmenares earlier said he was disappointed with Tupas’s decision not to make any reservation on Sereno’s possible testimony when he announced before the impeachment court that the prosecution is terminating its presentation of evidence.
Tupas clarified that the prosecution was only making a reservation on the dollar accounts, which is now a subject of a TRO issued by the High Tribunal.

Tupas, in a text message, also denied the supposed rift among the members of the prosecution. “There is no such thing,” he told reporters.

“The House panel decides based on what is best for the case of the prosecution considering all the circumstances. We terminated our presentation of evidence with the reservation on the dollar accounts of the respondent. That is our decision,” he added.

Two other members of the prosecution panel — Representatives Rodolfo Fariรฑas and Sherwin Tugna — also dismissed such rumors, and clarified that they were consulted when Tupas made the decision in behalf of the prosecution.

“We were consulted on that and that was a decision of the prosecutors. Congressman Jun-Jun (Tupas) had to make a decision at that time coz if the Sereno issue was not rested, the defense might argue that they will not start to present their evidence because the prosecution has not rested,” Tugna said in a text message.

Fariรฑas added that if Sereno will be willing to testify, the prosecution will argue before the court to allow her testimony.

“I am confident the Senate would want to hear her. We could even present her in rebuttal,” he said.

In a letter to Colmenares on Thursday, Sereno said the termination of the presentation of evidence by the prosecution panel has superseded the invitation sent to her.

The SC justice, however, did not indicate whether or not she would have refused or accept the invitation.

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Saturday, March 3, 2012 About the Philippines




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