MANILA, Philippines - Embattled Chief Justice Renato C. Corona signed Thursday afternoon a waiver, clearing The Medical City, including its officials and doctors, of any responsibility should anything untoward happens to him when he appears Friday before the impeachment court.
Aside from the Chief Justice, his wife Cristina and children Francis and Carla also signed the waiver.
"I, Chief Justice Renato C. Corona, of legal age and sound mind do hereby acknowledge that I fully understand and comprehend my medical condition and the possible complications that could happen as explained to me by my attending physicians. My attending physicians have explained in a language and manner easily understood by me, the dangers of leaving the hospital in my condition but I insist that I be allowed to leave. I am diagnosed to have coronary artery disease... coronary artery bypass grafting (1995, 2008), diabetes mellitus, anemia, chronic renal disease, and severe obstructive sleep apnea. In spite of the medical advice to remain in the hospital, I am voluntarily going out-on-pass on May 25, 2012 to attend the Senate hearing and I take full responsibility for my actions. I and my heirs waive any and all action whether criminal, civil or administrative, against the Medical City, its officers, directors, physicians, nurses, staff and/or employees for any foreseen and unforeseen consequences that may arise from my decision to go out on pass on May 25, 2012," the waiver stated.
In a press conference held earlier in the day, his medical team said the chief magistrate is at risk if he insists on attending Friday's trial.
Corona's medical team issued the warning after former Justice Serafin Cuevas had earlier announced that the Chief Justice is certain to appear before the impeachment court Friday, the deadline set by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile.
The medical team met with Corona Thursday morning to brief him on his health condition.
"It is the consensus of the medical team that attending the Senate hearing tomorrow will pose a risk to the Chief Justice's cardiac status. Purely on the basis of his medical condition, therefore, the team has reservations about exposing him to the risk of an acute coronary event," said Dr. Eugenio Ramos, senior vice president of the Medical Services Group of The Medical City.
His family knows the risk, he added.
But Dr. Ramos said that should Corona insist on attending his trial Friday, he has to sign a waiver, which he did late Thursday afternoon.
He added that an ambulance with a team of doctors and nurses will accompany the Chief Justice to the Senate if he decides to attend the trial.
Ramos told reporters that given the underlying coronary artery disease of the patient which has shown progression compared to 2011 studies, the risk of an acute coronary event occurring in a highly stressful circumstance is real.
"It is highly stressful. It would be a risk for him," Ramos said.
Ramos said no major cardiac event took place since Wednesday night, adding that doctors will be removing his IV (intravenous) line Friday.
He had earlier said that Corona has been a diabetic for the past 20 years, on daily insulin, with complications involving both kidneys and the heart. The Chief Justice's kidney function, he said, is also poor and has had two bypass surgeries - in 1995 and 2008.
Cuevas said Corona, who as of press time remains confined at the intensive care unit (ICU) of The Medical City, will show up Friday in compliance with Enrile's order for him to appear and undergo cross-examination.
Enrile had earlier backtracked with his decision to order Corona to appear last Wednesday and instead told the defense lawyers that he should be made to face the Senate Friday.
Cuevas had wanted that Corona return to the witness stand on Monday and resume his power point presentation and allow himself to go through cross-examination, but was overruled by Enrile's order.
Corona's lawyers attributed his "sudden flight," which many interpreted as a walkout, to his medical condition, saying he had a "hypoglycemic" episode in which his blood sugar dropped to low levels. The chief magistrate is a diabetic.
Cuevas said he told the Chief Justice he should face senator-judges after he "walked out" of the trial last Tuesday and convince them he did not mean to show disrespect to the institution.
"I told him, there is no other way but to show up at the Senate to convince them you did not show disrespect to them," Cuevas said when interviewed by radio reporters.
But in a phone interview, Tranquil Salvador III, another defense lawyer, said Corona is willing but will still have to wait for his condition to improve in the morning.
"He (Corona) is willing to testify. But of course we have to get the final signal of his doctors," Salvador said in a phone interview.
"His appearance will also depend on his family," he added.
In the event Corona decides to appear before the Senate, he must sign a waiver with his doctors.
However, senator-judges adopted a "wait-and-see" attitude, saying they would just wait whether Corona would be true to his word and appear before his trial.
It's also uncertain whether the Senate would adjust its schedule to accommodate and give Corona more time to defend himself.
Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto insinuated that the Senate President seemed resolute in finishing the trial early next week, scheduling the closing oral arguments on Monday, and the voting on Tuesday.
"Malabo (I'm not sure if that we can extend). But that's possible," Sotto said in a text message.
Sen. Gregorio Honasan also frowned on the possibility that Enrile would be willing to extend the trial to accommodate Corona in case he is physically and mentally incapable of answering intelligibly when under cross-examination.
"The court has made a ruling already, the perceived medical condition of the Chief Justice is beyond the control of the court, but what is not beyond the control of the court is the impeachment proceedings," Honasan said in a phone interview.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson, meanwhile, believes that Corona will appear just to comply with the court's order to appear within 48-hours.