January 25, 2012
ANGARA: WE CAN'T AFFORD TO DELAY IMPEACHMENT PROCESS
Senator Edgardo J. Angara warned against the potential impact of further delaying the proceedings of the ongoing Impeachment Trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona.
"We've done quite frailly in one week's time," observed Angara, when asked to assess the progress of the proceedings so far during an interview. "Much of the first week's successes are owed solely to the able handling of the Presiding Officer."
Angara, co-founder of ACCRA Law, one of the country's leading law firms, said that while it is important to observe due process in order to give the case a fair hearing, the Impeachment Court should be careful not to allow the proceedings to be protracted.
"Further delays in the process will have divisive effects on the public. People will begin to take sides," explained the veteran lawyer and lawmaker. "The mere fact that we are holding an Impeachment Trial of the Chief Justice casts a shadow of doubt on the government institution which he leads. For the keeper of justice in the country to be charged with corruption is damaging enough. We cannot afford to allow delays to further weaken public trust.
"Solemn and political systems are involved in this whole proceeding," said Angara. "We should not take it so lightly. We are talking about removing a high public official--it must thus be proven that he has committed high crimes."
Angara agrees that a mere preponderance of evidence, as in a civil case, is not enough to convict the Chief Justice, but neither does he think that the requirement should be so stringent as criminal cases which requires proof beyond reasonable doubt.
"This in-between is fertile ground for Senator-Judges to map out. We must navigate carefully to bring out the truth and to do so fairly. I haven't come to any conclusions yet; the bits and pieces presented so far are still too small to form a critical mass," he explained.
Angara said that despite the setbacks of the previous days, he is optimistic that the second week of the Trial will prove much more productive.
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