Miriam, private prosecutor engage in verbal tussle

The impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona was momentarily suspended on Wednesday afternoon after Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago engaged a private prosecutor in a heated debate over the prosecution's behavior toward the impeachment court.

During the 26th day of the impeachment trial, Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada stood up to ask the identity of private prosecutor Vitaliano Aguirre who was holding his hands to his ears while Santiago was criticizing the prosecution for withdrawing the remaining Articles of Impeachment.

"Yun po ay isang kabastusan dito sa isang miyembro ng husgado," said Estrada. Explaining his actuations, Aguirre took the poduim and admitted that he tried to block the voice of Santiago by placing his hands on his ears because he was "hurt" by her statements.

Santiago said he should have walked out of the courtroom if he didn't want to listen.

"You cannot make those contemptuous gestures and get away [with] it," she said.

Aguirre, however, said that even though Santiago was a judge and they were mere prosecutors, she should have not talked to them that way.

"I did it purposely. Ang pinakaimportante [ay] human dignity," he said.

Santiago said Aguirre should be cited for contempt.

"Imagine if all the lawyers did that in front of the impeachment court... kung ayaw mo pakinggan eh di umalis ka sa korte," she said.

"Aalis na nga po sana ako. Aalis na po ako," Aguirre answered back.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile asked that everyone remain calm and suspended the session. Aguirre was escorted out of the Senate session and was brought to the prosecution room while the prosecutors talked to the senators. Miriam to prosecutors: Waah! Before the verbal tussle, Santiago critcized the

prosecutors for bragging their ‘victory’ despite dropping five charges against Corona. “Sabi nyo malakas na malakas ang eight Articles of Impeachment [tapos] nung tatlo na lang, [sabi n’yo] tama ‘yan, panalo na kami. Waaah!” Santiago said.

“You [prosecution] have been misleading the court. I’m very concerned that the prosecution has been in very bad faith all along. You’ve been saying to the media, ‘Panalo na kami’. Kami ang magdedesisyon niyan, hindi kayo,” the lady senator said.

Ang yayabang ng mga nagsasalita ng ganyan,” she added.

Santiago, a former regional trial court judge, added that the prosecutors seemed to be conducting a trial by publicity.

“I have a very serious concern, nagbibiro ba kayo? Pagkatapos [n’yong magdrop ng charges] walang explanation, [saying that your] case is very strong. You are pre-judging the case. Are conducting trial by publicity? … ‘wag niyo kaming ginaganyan-ganyan.”

“When I heard that you are dropping charges, I feel like creeping back to bed and adopting a fetal position," she added. — RSJ, GMA News

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