By Maila Ager
MANILA, Philippines — The Senate formally began on Monday the impeachment trial against Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona with 21 of 23 senators in attendance.
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, who sits as presiding officer, banged the gavel past 2:00 p.m. to signal the start of the proceedings.
Only two were absent: Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, who is suffering from hypertension, and Senator Loren Legarda, who is also on leave taking care of her mother, who underwent surgery for colon cancer.
The 21 senators present were Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile, who presided over the trial, Senate Pro Tempore Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, Gringo Honasan, Francis “Chiz” Escudero, Panfilo Lacson Francis “Kiko” Panglinan, Franklin Drilon, Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel, Ralph Recto and Alan Peter Cayetano, Edgardo Angara, Joker Arroyo.
Also in attendance were Lito Lapid, Ramon Revilla Jr. , Senators Antonio Trillanes IV, Pia Cayetano, Teofisto Guingona III, Sergeio Osmena, Ferdinand “Bong-Bong” Marcos, and Manny Villar.
The impeachment complaint against Corona was initiated and signed by 188 members of the House of Representatives last Dec. 12, 2011 and filed in the Senate the following day.
On Dec. 14, 2011, the Senate convened itself as an impeachment court to try the case of Corona.
The 11-man prosecution team was then immediately formed by the House. Iloilo Representative Niel Tupas Jr. will be the lead prosecutor while Cavite Representative Joseph Emilio Abaya will manage the prosecution team.
The other members of the prosecution team are Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo C. Fariñas, Akbayan Rep. Arlene J. Bag-ao, CIBAC Rep. Sherwin N. Tugna, Cavite Rep. Elpidio F. Barzaga, Jr., Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo V. Umali, Northern Samar Rep. Raul Daza, Pangasinan Rep. Marlyn L. Primicias-Agabas, Bayan Muna Rep. Neri J. Colmenares and Isabela Rep. Giorgidi B. Aggabao.
Corona’s defense team on the other hand is composed of former Supreme Court Justice Serafin Cuevas; Ramon Esguerra, Jacinto Jimenez and Tranquil Salvador of Romulo Mabanta Buenaventura Sayoc and De Los Angeles law offices; German Lichauco III, Dennis Manalo and Noel Lazaroo f Siguion Reyna Montecillo and Ongsiako law offices; Jose Roy III, former dean of Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila’s Law School; Joel Bodegon, managing partner of Bodegon Estorninos Guerzon Borje & Gozos law offices; Rico Paolo Quicho, partner in Quicho and Angeles law offices; and Karen Jimeno, cum laude graduate from the UP College of Law.