Chief Justice Renato Corona walked out of the impeachment trial, defying calls by presiding officer Juan Ponce Enrile to go back to the session hall.
“Wow GMA is that you? This is part of Pinoy Drama at it’s finest”.
Prosecutors said, the walkout by Chief Justice Renato Corona was premeditated meant to avoid cross-examination.
In a statement, prosecutor Rep Erin Tañada said in Filipino that it was obvious that Corona planned his walkout because he did not want to be asked any further questions after his testimony. “Halatang talagang pinag-isipan ng ating punong mahistrado kung ano ang gagawin at talagang siniguro po niya na hindi po siya tatanungin ng kahit sinuman kahit ng mga senator-judge at ng maski panig po ng prosecution,” Tañada said.
“What the Chief Justice did was a blatant insult and disrespect to the impeachment court,” prosecution spokesman and Aurora Rep Sonny Angara said. He said the situation was an “all-time low for the Chief Justice.”
“We did not think he would be this low,” Angara said.
Sen Frankin Drilon shared the same view, adding Corona’s walkout indicated that he “has no intention to be cross-examined by the impeachment court.”
After delivering his statement before the court, Corona declared, “I am the chief justice I want to be excused” and left the witness stand with his wife Cristina.
Enrile told defense lawyers, “We haven’t discharged the Chief Justice. Defense counsel, please advise your witness.” The plea fell on deaf ears.
He said, “If you are going to disrespect this court, this court will do a decision on this case right now.”
Corona signed a waiver on his dollar and peso accounts, authorizing banks to disclose information, on condition that the 188 members of the House who signed the impeachment complaint, do the same.
Enrile ordered all Senate doors closed, saying he will not tolerate any outward disrespect for the impeachment court.
In the chaos that followed, the media made a mad scramble to locate him within the Senate premises. The Senate’s basement garage was closed down to bar possible flight. Corona’s black vehicle which was parked in the basement was waiting for him but was unable to leave.
Later, he was reported to have gone to the Senate clinic before he eventually found his way to the Senate executive lounge. He returned to the session hall in a wheelchair, without his coat and a loosened necktie.
On the other hand, Enrile also admonished Cuevas, “Hinayaan kong magsalita nang napakahaba. Hwag naman kaming babastusin.” (I allowed him to speak for a long time. We deserve some respect.) Corona was allowed to speak for about 2 hours with interruptions and breaks. He was interrupted at least six times but was nevertheless allowed by Enrile to continue speaking.
Corona’s counsel tried to excuse his client, saying his family panicked when they saw him become pale. When asked whether Corona can be cross-examined, Cuevas said he is “not physically able or mentally suited.”
Enrile, with the support of the impeachment court, said he was giving the defense until Wednesday, May 23, to bring back Corona for cross examination.