Press Release
March 7, 2012

Transcript of Ambush Interview of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile

On the Impeachment Trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona

Q: Sir, what was the agreement reached with...

SP: I met with Congressman Rudy Fariñas and Congressman Niel Tupas on the prosecution side, Justice Cuevas and another member of the defense panel, and I called for Senator Tito Sotto later on, to come and be present in the meeting. Essentially, I discussed with them the possibility of a morning and afternoon session but, the Defense begged off because they said, we have to prepare our witnesses everyday so, they want the afternoon session to continue. So, in order to accommodate the desire of many of my colleagues in the Senate as well as of the Prosecution to hasten the completion of the trial of this case, I suggested that, to both sides, that we should lengthen the time of trial in the afternoon. Instead of 2 to 5 we can go at least from 2 to 7 and so that what's agreed. Then, the Prosecution suggested that, maybe we could extend our recess of Congress by 1 week up to the 29 of March instead of 23. I asked for the Majority Floor Leader to come and I said, you sound off the members of the Senate but, he told me that, his assessment is that many of our Senators have already made arrangements for certain commitments after the 23rd but, he will sound them off. Now, if we could not extend it up to the 29th then, probably the better thing is for us to, instead of May 7, we will come back earlier than May 7 so that we will have time to really finish the trial.

Q: What is the earlier of May 7 sir? A week before May 7?

SP: Maybe a week before. Now, we will try to finish if we can, with the lengthened number of hours which will give us about 40 hours more of trial days up to the 23rd. If we finish the trial, we still have the presentation of the offer of evidence, documentary evidence, of the Defense, [when] subject to the written objection of the Prosecution. So, we will not be able to really finish the case before the Easter days, the Holy Week. And then, a part from that, there will be a period of oral argument or we do not know whether the Prosecution will need to present, rebuttal witnesses. So, we agreed to study all of these, if we could not extend the trial on the 23rd then we cannot extend it, our session up to the 29th then, it's better for us to wait until we reopen earlier than May 7 so that we can finish because, after the presentation of the, or after the closing of the examination of the witnesses by the Defense then, they offer their evidence for admissibility, admission or rejection, then the objection will be also given by the Prosecution, then we will have oral arguments for the Prosecution and the Defense. Then, after that, we vote on this. This will be very lengthy and there is the factor that we could not really control, and that is how long will the examination of witnesses of the Defense by the members of the Court will take. All of these were taken account so, what is definite as of the moment is we will lengthen the time of trial in the afternoon. Okay?

Q: So, for the most part of April sir, hindi yun covered? Wala yung April?

SP: Walang April. Rest period, quieting period, cooling period.

Q: Sir gaano naman kalaki yung possibility na papayag yung others senators to move earlier, a week earlier than May 7?

SP: I don't know. We really have to canvass them.

Q: Sir, halimbawa na, halimbawa lang sir, na pumayag sila up to the 29 although break nila po yun, wala kayong lalabagin na...

SP: Hindi pa, hindi pa rin, sa calculation nila eh baka hindi matatapos rin.

Q: Pero sir, can you not prevail over your colleagues? Except when they have the negative view...

SP: I cannot prevail on them. They are independent Senators. They were not elected by me. They are not my employees. They're employees of the Republic and they are elected not by anybody but, by the Filipino people so, no one can dictate on them.

Q: Sir, is it safe to say that the Senator-judges will render a decision by May?

SP: For a while, we definitely need to render a decision before we go in a final sine/die in June.

Q: Sir, si CJ Corona po, nagpa-interview po sya kanina and he said, he is willing to appear before the Senate and he said he is willing to open his dollar account.

SP: That's good and I think, that's a very sober, prudent move. All along I have faith that he would not allow his lawyers to make statements as a client in the course of the trial that in due time his bank accounts will be revealed unless, they will fulfill that commitment. And I am glad that if he did say that in the interview and I did not hear it, I am hearing it for the first time from you then, that's a welcome development. We'll see, we'll wait. You know in all my years in law practice, I've spent a lot of times, almost daily in the afternoon, hearing and trying cases in the courts over my time as an active practitioner of my profession apart from my corporate and tax practice. When you present a case, if you are in the prosecution or the side of the plaintiff, you cannot be sure of the outcome of the case until everything is over. Nothing is over until it is over. So, that's why, do not celebrate until the battle is over because you might get surprised in the end.

Q: CJ Corona is blaming PSBank as the source of the leak of the bank records

SP: That is a possibility. There are many possibilities in this particular case that's why, whether the leak came from the government, from the PSBank, or with knowledge of the bank or from any of its employees then, it is not very sure. We cannot conclude that it is the work of the government, that's why we could not apply the exclusionary provision of the Constitution with respect to illegally obtained evidence. Now, we try to look for exclusionary provision in Republic Act 1405 and Republic Act 6426, there is none in each. That is the reason why yesterday we have to rule that we'll have to admit all the evidence presented under the Article II. That conclusion will come into effect when we finally issue the ruling after we receive the objections of the Defense which they will file 5-days from our receipt, from the receipt of the offer of evidence written, offer of evidence of the prosecution.

Q: Sir, kailan po yung 5-days?

SP: I think it ended today, Wednesday

Q: So sir, yung position ni Chief Justice, pinning the blame on PSBank, how will that affect the consideration of the Court?

SP: That is, if it is PSBank, then it comes under the ruling of many courts that if the illegal disclosure of a proscribed evidence is done by private persons then, that will not negate its admissibility because there is a remedy provided by Congress itself, and that is file a criminal case against the one responsible in making the unauthorized disclosure. Then, if there is a damage then, the damaged party would file a civil case.

Q: Sir, would that be enough to pin down Corona?

SP: I cannot answer that.That's a conclusion.

Q: Baka lang makalusot.

SP: You cannot say that he's guilty at this point. He has not offered his defense. We do not what his defense will be.

Q: Sir, sinabi niya na po kanina sa radyo.

SP: Na?

Q: Sir, sinabi na po niya kanina na 'yung money were part of the expropriation ng property ni Mrs. Corona...proceeds from the sale of Basa-Guidote...

SP: Well, I cannot take that as evidence. It has to be submitted to us formally under oath in a courtroom.

Q: So, he still has to face the court?

SP: I suppose there is no other one that can testify on that unless they have somebody else who can testify on that.

Q: 'Yung asawa po niya, si Mrs. Corona...

SP: Well, if she was the one who sold, then Mrs. Corona can testify if that is a common property of Mrs. Corona and her relatives undivided, surely then, that need not be included in the SALN.

Q: But they put it in the private account of Renato Corona...

SP: Even then. That is in the nature of a trust account. That is my opinion. You are asking me, I have to study this first.

Q: He is free not to include that in his SALN?

SP: Wag mo na akong tanungin dun.

Q: Sir, kung sabi niyo he's not guilty yet dahil hindi niyo pa naririnig 'yung side ni Corona and given na 'yung submitted evidence, what more kapag napaliwanag pa niya ang sarili niya?

SP: No. When I say we cannot pronounce his guilt until we hear his side, it simply means we cannot render a judgment on a one-sided trial. Otherwise, this will become a Bill of Attainder, what we are doing. You know what is a Bill of Attainder? It is when Congress punishes a person either by legislation or some other act without a proper trial which is unconstitutional.

Q: Sir, 'yung mga laman ng interviews niya kanina, he's claiming 'yung mga circumstances kung paano niya na-acquire 'yung mga properties...

SP: Well, that is his prerogative.

Q: Hindi pa merit of the case 'yun?

SP: 'Yung mga sinasabi ng parties sa kaso sa labas, hindi ebidensiya 'yun. Maski sabihin niya ng sampung beses, we will not take that as evidence until it is presented under oath to the court.

Q: Sir, ii-insist daw po ng defense in a memo na mag-decide pa rin kayo sa five Articles. They will ask for a dismissal daw po.

SP: If they want a motion to dismiss, as far as I'm concerned, because of the withdrawal of those Articles by the prosecution and I clarified it, withdrawal means you will not present anymore evidence. You will consider it as if it is no longer a part of the Articles of Impeachment and we will not vote on it. I have no problem of dismissing those. I will, of course, have to consult the members of the court. That's just a formality at this point.

Q: So, there's no big difference whether or not you formally dismiss the five cases?

SP: There's no difference because, unless I am reversed by the Court, I will not allow anymore evidence to be presented and that we will not vote on it.

Q : But the same issue can be filed again, sir, after one year?

SP: Even if we dismiss it, there's no jeopardy in impeachment. There's no jeopardy. You can dismiss the charge because it is not properly formed, properly couched or it lacks additional substance. If you complete it, you can re-file it. I don't see any obstacle in re-filing it although I consider it impractical.

Q: Sir, sabi po kanina ni Sen. Bongbong Marcos, 'yung mga pronouncements po ni President Aquino against kay Corona tend to confuse the public na nakakagulo lang po siya sa procedure ng impeachment...

SP: That is the politics of the whole thing. That's why they say impeachment trial is political because there are two contending sides. Like the Chief Justice telling his story then the prosecutors which is the government, telling also his own story.

Q: Parang nagiging spokesperson na rin po ng prosecution si Presidente?

SP: Hindi naman siguro. May spokesman na ang Prosecution panel, di ba? Si Quimbo, Erin Tañada at Sonny Angara.

Q: Sir, ang worry po ng mga senator-judges kaya ayaw nila ma-extend pati morning ang impeachment hearing kasi nag-aalala po sila sa health ninyo...

SP: Ako naman ay willing. They do not know what I feel. I am happy that they are very much concerned about my health but I thank them from the bottom of my heart. I think I can undergo the rigors.

Q: The point of Senator Marcos being that other senators can just sit there and listen but you must listen more carefully because you are the one making the rulings...

SP: Most of the time, when they start opening their trap, I know more or less where they are going already.

Q: Sir, hindi pa kayo nagkakasakit since nag-start 'yung trial?

SP: Nagkakasakit din. Kung minsan sumasakit ang ipin ko.

Q: Colds? Flu?

SP: I have a flu vaccine. I have a pneumonia vaccine. I take vitamins everyday. Sometimes my blood pressure also goes up.

Q: Sir, pwede pong mag-attend si Attorney Aguirre in his private capacity?

SP: Pwede kung gusto niya. In-admonish lang namin to be more prudent, cautious and careful. Nagtatakip siya ng tenga. Dahil ang abogado sa husgado dapat matalas ang pandinig at attentive sa nangyayari.

Q: Sir, stress po ba ang dahilan kung bakit sumasakit ang ipin ninyo?

SP: Sa kakakain ng nuts. I had tooth extraction because my lower right molar was infected so they had to pull it out on a Sunday. While I was sitting there sometimes it becomes painful.

Q: Sir, since wala na 'yung morning and afternoon sessions...

SP: Mayroon kaming session sa morning, legislation. Pero 'yung trial will be in the afternoon.

Q: Since that's the case, what's the chance na magkaroon ng verdict before March 23?

SP: We have 40 hours kung matutuloy 'yan. We can go up to 8 o'clock. Depending sa energy ng mga kasama ko. Ako, madali. Kapag gusto kong itigil ang hearing, trial suspended. Titindig ako, pupunta ako sa lounge then I'll come back. Ngayon, if we have 40 hours more. Ang sinabi sa akin ng Defense, I think they will present about 25 [20] witnesses. So, assuming they present one witness everyday, pwede.

Q: But your fellow judges don't want to work overtime...

SP: We will do at least five hours, 2 to 7.

Q: So you are not ruling out that a verdict can come out before March 23?

SP: That's a possibility but I cannot assure you that that will happen. Marami pang mga gagawin. Magtatanong pa 'yung mga senator-judges. Pagkatapos, magco-cross ng evidence ang Defense. If there's an objection to be resolved then we will have an oral argument. After the oral argument, siguro one day lang 'yun, one session 'yun. One hour each. After one hour, baka humingi ng panahon ang mga senador to think about their position. Reflect, pray.

Q: How long will you give them, sir?

SP: Not me. Pag-uusapan namin 'yun.

Q: How long will they take kaya, sir? One day? One week?

SP: I do not know.

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