Estrada Impeachment Pre-Trial Transcript
December 4, 2000
At 2:34 p.m., the Chief Justice, Hon. Hilario G. Davide, Jr., acting as the presiding officer, called the resumption of the impeachment trial to order.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER (CHIEF JUSTICE DAVIDE). The impeachment trial of His Excellency, the President of the Philippines, is now resumed.
We shall have a one minute silent prayer.
ONE MINUTE SILENT PRAYER.
The Secretary will please call the roll.
THE SECRETARY. (Reading).
Senator Teresa Aquino Oreta…………â€¦â€¦â€¦..Present
Senator Robert Z. Barbers…………â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦….Absent
Senator Rodolfo G. Biazon…………..â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦Present
Senator Renato Compañero L. Cayetanoâ€¦…..Present
Senator Anna Dominique M.L. Cosetengâ€¦….Present
Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago…….â€¦â€¦…Absent
Senator Franklin M. Drilon………….â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦.Present*
Senator Juan Ponce Enrile…………..â€¦â€¦â€¦.. …Present*
Senator Juan M. Flavier…………….â€¦â€¦â€¦.â€¦..Present
Senator Teofisto T. Guingona, Jr…….â€¦â€¦.â€¦.Present
Senator Gregorio B. Honasan…………â€¦â€¦.â€¦.Present
Senator Robert S. Jaworski………….â€¦â€¦â€¦.â€¦Present
Senator Loren B. Legarda Leviste…….â€¦â€¦… Present*
Senator Ramon B. Magsaysay, Jr………â€¦â€¦…Present
Senator Blas F. Ople……………….â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦.â€¦Present*
Senator John Henry R. Osmeña……….â€¦â€¦….Present*
Senator Sergio R. Osmeña III……..â€¦â€¦..â€¦…Present*
Senator Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr…….â€¦â€¦â€¦.Present
Senator Ramon B. Revilla……………â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦Present
Senator Raul S. Roco………………â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦.Present
Senator Vicente C. Sotto III………â€¦â€¦..â€¦â€¦.Present
Senator Francisco S. Tatad………..â€¦â€¦..â€¦â€¦.Present
The Senate President……………..â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦..Present
* Arrived after roll call.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER . With 14 senators present, the Chair declares the presence of a quorum.
THE MAJORITY LEADER (SEN. TATAD). Mr. Chief Justice.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER . Majority Leader.
THE MAJORITY LEADER. Mr. Chief Justice, I ask the Sergeant at arms to make a proclamation.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. The Sergeant at arms shall now make the proclamation.
THE SERGEANT AT ARMS. All persons are commanded to keep silent on pain of imprisonment while the Senate is sitting for the trial of Articles of Impeachment exhibited by the House of Representatives against Joseph Ejercito Estrada, President of the Philippines.
THE MAJORITY LEADER. Mr. Chief Justice, I move that we defer the consideration or the reading and approval of the Journal of Impeachment Court, Monday, 27 of November 2000 to the 7th of December 2000.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there any objection? (Silence)
There being none, the motion of the majority leader is approved.
THE MAJORITY LEADER . Mr. Chief Justice.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Yes, Majority Leader.
THE MAJORITY LEADER. Mr. Chief Justice, may I request that the
parties to the impeachment trial be directed to enter their appearances.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER . As requested, the parties are hereby directed to enter their appearance.
REP. APOSTOL. Mr. Chief Justice, Your Honor.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. The distinguished prosecutor.
REP. APOSTOL. Sergio Apostol as one of the prosecutors together with Congressman Arroyo, Congressman Raul Gonzales, Congressman Baterina and Congressman Moreno.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. For the defense.
MR. MENDOZA. The same appearance for the defense, Your Honors.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. The Majority Leader.
THE MAJORITY LEADER. Mr. Chief Justice, the Senate Impeachment Court is in receipt of the following pleadings filed on December 1st, 2000 with the Senate of the Philippines:
One, Urgent Motion for an Order Allowing Ocular Inspection;
Two, Urgent Motion For Leave to Take Deposition Upon Oral Examination of the General Manager of the Philippine Clearing House and for the Issuance of a Subpoena Ad Testificandum and Duces Tecum;
Three, Urgent Motion for the Issuance of Subpoena Ad Testificandum and Subpoena Duces Tecum;
Four, Urgent Motion for Leave to Take Deposition Upon Oral Examination of Mr. Wilfredo Vergara or His Duly Designated representative and for the Issuance of a Subpoena Ad Testificandum and Duces Tecum.
Five, Urgent Motion for Leave to Take Deposition Upon Oral Examination of Miss Betty Bagsik and for the Issuance of a Subpoena Ad Testificandum and Duces Tecum.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Would the applicant movant submit the incidents for resolution without oral argument?
REP. APOSTOL. May I say something, Mr. Chief Justice, Your Honor?
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Were copies of all these pleadings furnished counsel for the respondent?
REP. APOSTOL. Yes, Your Honor, we did.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. You may now proceed.
REP. APOSTOL. Your Honors, first, on the three Motions for Leave to Take Deposition Upon Oral Examination, may I just request for a correction of Betty Bagsik, it should be Bagsit.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. What page?
REP. APOSTOL. The first motion, Page 1 of the title and all the succeeding pages where the word “Bagsik” is mentioned, the correction should be Bagsit, instead of “k” it should be “t”.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. The counsel for the respondent is requested to take note of the correction. The request is granted. Let the correction be made on record.
REP. APOSTOL. Mr. Chief Justice, Your Honors, when we filed the three motions, Urgent Motion for Leave to Take Deposition Upon Oral Examination for Miss Betty Bagsit, Urgent Motion for Leave to Take Deposition Upon Oral Examination of the General Manager of the Clearing House and for issuance of Subpoena and Subpoena Duces Tecum, Urgent Motion for Leave to Take Oral Deposition Upon Oral Examination of Mr. Wilfredo Vergara, at that time, we were not aware that an answer was filed. That’s why on deposition for taking of deposition on oral examination, we need leave of this body to take the deposition on oral examination. However, today, the answer has already been filed so leave of court is no longer necessary. May we request now, Mr. Chief Justice and Your Honors and the opposing counsel that this motion be considered merely as a notice that we are going to take deposition upon oral examination of Miss Betty Bagsit, the general manager of the Philippine Clearing House and Mr. Wilfredo Vergara before the secretary general of the Senate.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Any comment from the respondent?
MR. MENDOZA. Mr. Chief Justice, members of the Senate.
Technically, the distinguished prosecutor is correct that before answer, leave of court is necessary but that after answer, leave of court may be dispensed with. But as will be noted from these motions, these are not ordinary motions to take deposition. There are prayers in this motion well beyond what is incident to a deposition. So that the proceedings would not needlessly be hampered by a motion or an opposition to the taking of a deposition, motion by the parties asking that these particular representations in the motions be deleted or that this particular prayer in the motion be denied in which case the depositions would not proceed but the Senate will have to hear the objections. Perhaps, if I may suggest, since the motions have been filed, the motions can now be considered by the Senate and the Senate may hear our objections so that the possibility of objections being raised to the depositions would be obviated and the proceedings expedited.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Have you filed an opposition?
MR. MENDOZA. If Your Honors please, the copies of these were served at an office address we jointly use but we hold offices in different places, at about 5 o’clock in the afternoon of Friday. By that time, copies of this motion were faxed to our office, to my office I was no longer in the office. And did not go to the office on Saturday as I usually don’t. So, I came to see these motions only this morning. And, therefore, we were unable to prepare written opposition to these motions.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. But are you ready to argue orally?
MR. MENDOZA. Yes, we are ready to argue the motions, Your Honors.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Then the Impeachment Court will allow you to argue orally to prevent the delay.
MR. MENDOZA. That is if the prosecution will not do not does not find any need anymore to further amplify on this motion, then I am prepared to argue against these motions.
REP. APOSTOL. Now, Your Honor please, this is a deposition. We may or may not present this. If we were able to take a deposition orally on the witnesses, we may or may not present the witnesses or the evidences. This is merely a mode of discovery. So, why should this be argued before this Court?
Further, Your Honor, since there was actually a change of the status after the filing of the motion, then the taking of the deposition we may not even adopt the witnesses and the evidences as offered, this is merely a mode of discovery. So, why should it be argued before this body?
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Well, under the Rules of Court on deposition, the adverse counsel may object to an application for oral deposition or any other mode of discovery.
REP. APOSTOL. That is true…
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. So, it is up to you now if you are going to submit these pleadings without any further argument insofar as you are concerned, but the Chair would allow the other party to express its announced opposition. We’ll give the other party ten minutes to argue against.
REP. APOSTOL. And in that case, Mr. Chief Justice, we are willing to argue.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Then you may proceed ahead. The proponent first of the motion. You will have ten minutes, the defense later will have ten minutes.
MR. MENDOZA. May we have a… There are five incidents, Your Honors. Probably, is the ten minutes for each one or…
THE CHIEF JUSTICE). No, no, no, it’s too long.
MR. MENDOZA. Well, then perhaps ten minutes is
too short…THE PRESIDING OFFICER. The issues are very simple.
MR. MENDOZA. … for all of these especially…
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Then 20 minutes for each of you, for all the incidents.
REP. APOSTOL. Mr. Chief Justice, we are not in a position of any objection, how can we argue? Since they are the ones objecting, let them argue first, so we can answer.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Okay. What the Chair wanted to find out was whether you would still want to amplify your application. If not, then we will go directly to the opposition.
REP. APOSTOL. No more, Mr. Chief Justice, but we will be ready to answer on rebuttal.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Okay. Yes. And we will give you a… You will be allowed to close later on.
The defense is given 20 minutes only for the four issues.
MR. MENDOZA. If Your Honors please, these depositions are proposed to be taken on the very morning of the trial. All of the witnesses whose depositions are proposed to be taken are all residents of the Philippines available to the processes of the Senate. So, we do not really see the need for these depositions.
Normally or generally, depositions are either for purposes of discovery or for the purpose of perpetuating testimony. Discovery, the morning of a trial does not serve any purpose. Perpetuation of testimony, none of these witnesses is about to die or to leave the Philippines.
Secondly, if Your Honors please, all of these motions are premised on an inexistent predicate. All of them are predicated on testimonies supposedly given before the Blue Ribbon Committee of the Senate. The records of the Blue Ribbon Committee are not part of the records of this impeachment trial not until and unless they are made part of the records by a formal motion or whatever. We do not see how, but that has not been done.
So, since all of these motions are premised on testimonies supposedly given at the Blue Ribbon Committee, which testimonies are not part of the records of this case, then the premises of these motions do not exist. As you will note, Mr. as you will note, Your Honors, that is a common premise for all of these motions.
Then, these motions also assume certain conclusions which are precisely the issues to be decided here. They assume that the money in connection with these subpoenaes that are being sought are jueteng money but there is no such basis for that in these proceedings. Precisely, that is going to be one of the issues to be tried in these proceedings.
And then they asked for a very peculiar they have … These motions have a very peculiar request for deposition. They are asking that all the persons whose deposition is sought to be taken and who are required to submit or to produce certain records, that upon receipt of a subpoena, they execute certified copies of the documents already sought to be produced in the deposition and that these documents already be produced, be deposited with the Senate. That such a proceeding is entirely uncalled for in a deposition. A deponent is supposed to produce the witness. When the witness is produced, the other parties to be represented and the other party can object. But to do this, the proponents proposed to accomplish what they are supposed to achieve through the deposition prematurely, Your Honors. So that is entirely uncalled for, Your Honor.
So, if Your Honors please, on this basis, we object to these motions and I think, perhaps, if this evidence is really necessary, the witness can be required to testify before the Senate. Why should they be deposed in the morning and then recalled perhaps to testify in the afternoon? We see no purpose for these depositions, Your Honors.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. We will hear the panel of prosecutors.
REP. APOSTOL. Mr. Chief Justice, Your Honors, this is another move to delay based on technicalities. I cannot understand why the defense does not want a deposition to be taken when this is intended to expedite the proceedings.
In the Clinton case, Your Honors, most of the evidences were taken through depositions. And yet here, the defense wants to put the witness on the witness stand to cross examine them. This will delay the whole thing. That’s why we are requesting, Your Honors, that while the trial goes on in the afternoon, depositions should be taken in the morning so that we can expedite the proceedings. Further, deposition is merely a mode of discovery. We may or may not even use the deposition taken.
Now, there is such an argument that the basis or predicate of all these requests for deposition were based on the result of the Blue Ribbon Committee examination. Your Honor, if we look at the members of the Senate, more than 50 percent of the members of the Senate were also members of the and the other, the Justice Committee, practically all of them. So, they are conversant of what happened during the investigation of the Blue Ribbon Committee and the Justice Committee. Further, may I say this. The only requisite for taking of a deposition is relevancy and materiality.
Your Honors, all these are relevant and material. Where the appearance or layout, for instance, of a particular House is relevant or material for purposes of corroborating the testimony of the witness regarding a material allegation that such House is the situs of criminal activities and meetings, it is submitted that inspection should be allowed.
To reiterate, I cannot understand why the defense is worried about depositions when it will not even we are not even sure that we are submitting this as evidence. This is taken before trial proper.
So, Mr. Chief Justice, Your Honors, we are submitting the five motions for consideration.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Okay. Yes.
REP. APOSTOL. But we have a request also separately for subpoena ad testificandum and duces tecum.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Yes.
REP. APOSTOL. Another one … well, may I reiterate our motion?
Urgent Motion for Leave to Take Deposition Upon Oral Examination of Miss Betty Bagsit and for issuance of a Subpoena Ad Testificandum and Duces Tecum.
The second is Urgent Motion for Leave to Take Deposition Upon Oral Examination of the General Manager of the Philippine Clearing House and for the Issuance of a Subpoena Ad Testificandum and Duces Tecum.
The third is Urgent Motion for Leave to Take Deposition Upon Oral Examination of Mr. Wilfredo Vergara or his Duly Designated Representative and for the Issuance of a Subpoena Ad Testificandum and Duces Tecum.
Then, we are requesting for issuance of subpoena ad testificandum and duces tecum of the following witnesses: Jinggoy Estrada, Roberto Lastimoso, Mr. Anton Prieto and Mrs. Yolanda Ricaforte.
And the last one is the ocular inspection of certain houses allegedly where the situs of the crime took place.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Are you not prepared to mention the duly authorized representative of Vergara and the duly authorized representative of the General Manager of the Philippine Clearing House?
REP. APOSTOL. Your Honor …
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Because if the motion will be granted, we have to specify the person.
REP. APOSTOL. Ah, yes, Your Honor.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. We cannot just leave it to another person to designate.
REP. APOSTOL. Well, we cannot really specify who will be the the representative of the General Manager of the Clearing House. We just mentioned there, “or his representative who can testify on the matter.”
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. In other words, for the moment, in the event that your application will be granted, we will only specify the persons who are categorically mentioned Vergara or the General Manager.
REP. APOSTOL. Yes, Your Honor.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Okay. Any further statement from the defense?
MR. MENDOZA. Yes, one firstly, if Your Honor please, that I understood what was being argued. My understanding is that what was being argued were the motions for deposition only. They did not include the motion for ocular inspection, which is not a deposition.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. The Chair understood it that there is no
further argument on that latter motion.
MR. MENDOZA. I did not address that motion, if Your Honor please.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. It is not that it is abandoned.
MR. MENDOZA. So may I now address the motion for ocular inspection, Your Honor?
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. You can.
MR. MENDOZA. Yes, Your Honor.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Five minutes. You were not able to consume your 20 minutes earlier.
MR. MENDOZA. Yes, Your Honor.
If Your Honors please, but before I address the motion for ocular inspection, the distinguished prosecutor made a very disturbing statement. He said that all the members of the Senate were members of the Blue Ribbon Committee and, therefore, heard all the testimonies in the Blue Ribbon Committee.
If Your Honors please, if the members of the Senate who participated in the Blue Ribbon Committee hearings now act as jurors bearing in mind what they … the testimonies they heard in the Blue Ribbon Committee, I am afraid that they will not be capable of rendering impartial justice.
Our assumption, if Your Honors please, is that all the members of the Senate who participated in the Blue Ribbon Committee would come to the Senate now as jurors and prosecutors completely bereft of any judgment prejudices or testimonies which were received in the Blue Ribbon Committee.
I now readdress if Your Honors please, the motion for ocular inspection.
By this motion, if Your Honors please, the prosecutors seek to conduct ocular inspection on certain residences. I would like to start with what we all learned early in law school about a person’s home, and I quote:
“The poorest man may in his cottage be defiance to all forces of the crown. It may be frail, its roof may shake, the wind may shake, the wind may blow through it, the storm may enter, the rain may enter but the king of England cannot enter. All its force dares not cross the threshhold of the ruined tenementâ€.
That is why, if Your Honors please, we have in our Constitution Article III in the Bill of Rights, provision which renders inviolate that home against any unreasonable search and seizure and which can only be accomplished through a search warrant.
In this motion, if Your Honors please, again, without appropriate predicate, the prosecutors assumed that criminal activities were committed in these homes. That is an assumption which is not in any evidence because there is no evidence whatsoever in these proceedings. And even if it were as I will demonstrate, ocular inspection is not appropriate. But beyond that, Your Honors please, they propose to enter the homes, photograph and videotape the properties including the interior thereof. For what purpose?
Now, if Your Honors please, my understanding in a criminal case, for example, where an ocular may be appropriate is where there is testimony which can be perhaps be verified by an ocular inspection of the premises referred to. And I will give an example.
Recently, we read of Judge Ocampo of Cebu who is said to have committed suicide inside a hotel room. The question was whether he committed suicide or whether he was killed by someone else. In that case, ocular inspection of the room would be appropriate to determine, to look at the lock and determine whether any person could have entered that room. In which case, if no person could have entered the room because of the physical condition of the room and the lock, then ocular then it would be concluded that he must have committed suicide. But in this case, if Your Honors please, what we are talking about is money allegedly jueteng money delivered at his residence, which has no relevance at all. But they want to enter these premises of these houses, take photographs of even the interior maybe to find out whether the video whether the television set is made of Sony or Panasonic, enter maybe the comfort room to determine what are the in what brand they are made. Entirely irrelevant. This motion, if Your Honors please is intended only for pure harassment, maybe political propaganda entirely unwarranted and proscribed if Your Honors please by the Bill of Rights.
Under the Constitution, before any person can obtain a search warrant, there must be evidence of probable cause. And that probable cause must be determined by a person who takes an oath on the basis of personal knowledge. I think the prosecution has gotten into the habit if Your Honors please, of dispensing with this fundamental requirements of the Constitution. Just like the Articles of Impeachment which came to the Senate without any verification on the basis of personal knowledge, what the prosecution proposes now to do is to enter these homes on the say so of the prosecution, without any witness being having testified on the basis of personal knowledge that there is reasonable basis relevant to the issues before the Senate. Now, Mr. Singson Governor Singson has not even testified yet. We do not know whether he will say indeed, as he has said before, that the money was delivered there; or maybe no money was delivered. We do not know.
So, this is entirely a prejudgment of the case and entirely baseless. And we pray that it should be summarily denied, Your Honors.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Is that all? Even for the rest?
MR. MENDOZA. As far as this motion is concerned, yes, Your Honor.
THE PRESIDING OFFIDER. Yeah. Why don’t you just proceed to argue on the remaining pleadings, if you still want to.
MR. MENDOZA. Well, as far as the only pleading…
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. You have three minutes more to go.
MR. MENDOZA. Well, as far as this motion, if Your Honor please, only to ask for issuance of subpoena only to certain individuals, we find no difficulty in this. It’s really up to the persons concerned to object if they find them inappropriate and then… But then we object to categorization, for example, of in this motion for subpoena ad testificandum and duces tecum, the description of Mr. Jinggoy Estrada, Anton Prieto, and Mrs. Ricaforte as adverse or hostile witnesses. This is a premature description of these witnesses. Whether a witness is hostile or not, if Your Honors please, is to be determined when he takes the witness stand and on the basis of the testimony previously given.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Are you now submitting the matter? To all?
MR. MENDOZA. If Your Honors please, with respect to this motion for ocular inspection which by its premises also is not of that urgency, may we request that in addition to the arguments we have made, we be given two or three days to file a further written opposition, Your Honor. Only on this motion for ocular inspection.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. I think you have sufficiently argued that matter.
MR. MENDOZA. Well, if Your Honor please, we will leave it to the discretion of the….
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Your request, should not prevent the Senate acting as an impeachment court to make a ruling after the oral argument this afternoon. You may submit it for record purposes.
The Honorable Apostol.
REP. APOSTOL. Mr. Chief Justice, Your Honors, it is a truism that only the owner of the house can prevent the entry of his own house.
Here, we are glad that the defense has admitted that the five houses are owned by the respondent. So, we thank them very much for that. Otherwise…
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. I think, from the argument of counsel, there was not any admission.
REP. APOSTOL. Then there is no sense of them objecting because only the owner of the house, Mr. Chief Justice, Your Honors, can object to the entry of that house. And since they are objecting, there is an implied admission that they own these house.
Then, in fact, the counsel arguing for the defense was quoting the Bill of Rights that there is a privacy of the home. Definitely, Mr. Chief Justice, Your Honors, that is a very definite admission that the respondent own these houses. Then more so that you should be allowed to take pictures of these houses because it is owned by them.
May I just quote the Supreme Court on the matter:
Now, the issue actually on the motion for ocular inspection is whether there is good cause. And good cause is, in cases of inspection of a land or building, if there is relevancy or materiality of the request for ocular inspection.
As held by the Supreme Court in the case of Land Corporation of the Philippines versus Moran, “the test to be applied by the trial judge in determining the relevance of documents and the sufficiency of their description is reasonableness and practicability.”
There is reasonableness here in the inspection of the house. In fact, when some reporters tried to enter that house, they were fired upon by the guards. And practicability, we cannot enter this house without the order of this body.
â€œThat the inspection of property should be allowed where circumstances of such like its existence, condition, or appearance may be satisfactorily determined by inspection.
Where the appearance or layout of the particular house is relevant and material for purposes of corroborating the testimony of a witness regarding a material allegation that such house is the situs of criminal activity and meetings, it is submitted that inspection should be allowed.â€
Now, there is such an objection on this, basically because it was not yet there is no trial yet. Counsel for the defense forgot that we are on discovery, we are on mode of discovery. This is done before trial to discover whether there is such an evidence to corroborate the testimony of the witnesses or to gather in fact, to gather evidence for that party.
So, we cannot be faulted for looking for such an evidence and to avail of the provision of the Rules Court on this matter. Because as envisioned by the Rules of Court, modes of discoveries must be availed of to discover whether there is such an evidence to corroborate the testimony of the witnesses or to gather evidence for that party.
So we cannot be faulted for looking for such an evidence and to avail of the provisions the Rules of Court on this mater because as envisioned by the Rules of Court, modes of discoveries must be availed of to discover whether there is such an evidence or not.
Now, since there is no objection on our request for ad testificandum or subpoena duces tecum on the witnesses which we mentioned on our motions, so we will not argue on that matter anymore.
Mr. Chief Justice, Your Honors, we submit five motions.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Thank you.
Just for the record, before the Chair would recognize the Majority Leader, at 2:20 this afternoon, the Office of the Clerk of Court of the Supreme Court received a communication dated December 4, 200O from the Office of the Mayor of the Municipality of San Juan, Metro Manila, addressed to the Chief Justice in his capacity as Presiding Officer of the Impeachment Court. The body of the letter reads copy of which was furnished the Senate President and also the head of the prosecution panel, the Honorable Feliciano Belmonte, Jr., as shown in the “cc” at the lower bottom corner.
â€œ I have read in newspaper reports that the prosecution panel in the ongoing impeachment trial against my father, President Joseph Ejercito Estrada, has filed a motion for the issuance of a subpoena against me to appear and to testify on 7 and 8 December 2000.
I am more than willing to assist any party, including the prosecution, in arriving at the truth in respect of the charges against my father. However, I had made plans to go to the United States from the 5th of December to the 14th of December 2000 to attend to some personal albeit urgent matters, which plans has been arranged and fixed even before the prosecution filed the motion. I enclosed for your perusal my itinerary as fixed by my travel agent dated 12/30 November 2000.
I give my commitment and assurance to you, the Senate and the Prosecution, that I will make myself immediately available to testify in the impeachment proceedings as soon as I arrive from the United States on 14 December 2000. Needless to state, I am aware of the importance of the proceedings and will not do anything which may be construed as an attempt to evade the court processes or to conceal the truth in said case.
Hoping for your kind consideration.
Very truly yours,
(SGD) JINGGOY ESTRADA
Another communication received just this afternoon, at 2:18 this afternoon, and which the Chair would now want to be included as part of the trial agenda for this afternoon. This is urgent ex parte motion to allow multiple presentors of opening statements submitted by the head of the prosecution panel, the Honorable Feliciano R. Belmonte, Jr. And I would read it for the record so everybody will be able to take note of this. And probably after a brief recess, the matter can also be acted upon by the Senate acting as an Impeachment Court.
â€œ The House of Representatives, through its prosecutors, to the Chief Justice respectfully states that:
1) Pursuant to the only provision in the Senate Rules dealing with the opening statement, Rule XX, the case on each side shall be opened by one person;
2) As manifested during the argument on the Motion to Quash last 28 November 2000, the Articles of Impeachment had been divided among four panels of prosecutors;
3) For a more lucid presentation, herein prosecutors propose to have the undersigned deliver a brief introductory statement to be followed by the presentation of the heads of the four panels namely; Congressmen Sergio Apostol, Joker Arroyo, Raul Gonzales and Wigberto Tañada. Overall, the opening statements will take one and half hours.
Wherefore, it is respectfully prayed that the multiple presentors be allowed for the opening statement of the prosecutors and they be alloted not more than two hours for the purpose.
Quezon City for Pasay City, December 4, 2000.”
This will be taken up unless the Honorable Apostol would want to amplify this motion which would be taken up now.
The Chair will recognize the Majority Leader.
REP. APOSTOL. On the… May I be allowed to say something, Mr. Chief Justice?
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. On this?
REP. APOSTOL. First, on the letter of Mayor Estrada.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Yes.
MR. DAZA. Your Honor, May I reserve time to speak to this particular urgent ex parte motion that was read by the…
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. You will be given the time.
MR. DAZA. Thank you, Your Honor.
REP. APOSTOL. Mr. Chief Justice, Your Honor. We will have no objection on this letter allowing Mayor Estrada to leave for abroad as long as when he comes back, he will make himself available to testify before this body.
On the ex parte motion, may I request that the Honorable Joker Arroyo be allowed to say something on that, Your Honor.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. To amplify on that?
REP. APOSTOL. To amplify on the matter.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. The Honorable Arroyo is recognized.
REP. ARROYO. Thank you, Mr. Chief Justice.
This motion that the Chair just read has the conformity or no objection of the defense. What we’re asking for here is that we be given not more than two hours, and I think the defense is willing as long as they are given the same period.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. So, all in all, it would be the head prosecutor and four others for each article.
REP. ARROYO. That’s correct, Mr. Chief Justice. The division will be up to us as to how many hours as long as we don’t go beyond two hours.
MR. DAZA. Your Honor.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Yes, I now recognize Counsel Daza.
MR. DAZA. Yes. Your Honor, in the original of the motion, with the authority of my colleagues in the defense panel, I rose to state that we have no objection to the motion provided, that what the prosecution has prayed for in the motion should also be accorded to the defense, meaning, that if they are given two hours for the opening statement, we be given equal time and that as the prosecutors will decide among themselves how to divide their time, that we, in the Defense, be also given the discretion on how among ourselves we shall divide the time.
REP. ARROYO. We find the proposal fair, Mr. Chief Justice.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. In other words, we will practically be adopting the impeachment procedure during the impeachment trial of President Clinton, for the opening statement and the presentation of the case for each side?
MR. DAZA. Yes, Your Honor.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. We will make the ruling afterwards.
MR. DAZA. Yes, Your Honor, with the indulgence of the court.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Yes.
MR. DAZA. May we be permitted to go back to the incident on the ocular inspection because…
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. I don’t think we will allow that because under the rules, only one can speak on each side on a given issue. And I think the matter was sufficiently discussed already.
MR. DAZA. Yes, thank you, Your Honor.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Yes, with the permission of the Honorable Majority Leader, the distinguished Senator Guingona is raising his hand and he is recognized.
THE MINORITY LEADER. May we be permitted to ask some questions from the defense counsels?
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. The nature of a clarificatory?
THE MINORITY LEADER. Yes, Mr. Chief Justice.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. May we know from the defense counsels whether from the Articles of Impeachment, the issue of ocular inspection is relevant or not?
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Who will answer?
MR. MENDOZA. If Your Honor please, my understanding of the question of relevancy pertains to the evidence and as evidence is presented. As evidence is presented, the other party can object or the other party can waive objections. So I am afraid at this time I cannot respond to the question of the Honorable Senator.
SEN. GUINGONA. Follow-up, Mr. Presiding Officer. Mr. Chief Justice, follow-up.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Yeah, one follow-up question.
SEN. GUINGONA. Is it the position of the defense counsels that they would like to expedite the proceedings?
MR. MENDOZA. Well, of course, it is our desire to expedite the proceedings but that does not mean that we are to waive procedures. Our regret is that everytime we do anything, the suggestion is made by the prosecution that it is intended to delay. And if what we do is in accordance with the rules, the opposition claims that the rules are but technical rules. So we are at a loss as to whether we have rules which we should follow or whether we have technical rules which we should disregard.
SEN. GUINGONA. Which should liberally be construed.
Mr. Chief Justice, one last.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. You may.
SEN. GUINGONA. The Articles of Impeachment clearly puts in issue the unexplained wealth and the mansions of the respondent. To save time the ocular inspections can be done so that in due time the relevancy which is already apparent in the Articles can be the subject of further deliberations.
MR. MENDOZA. I did not… Am I supposed to answer any question, Mr. Chief Justice?
My understanding, if Your Honors please, is that this afternoon we are discussing the motions for deposition. And if I may, with a leave of Mr. Chairman and the senators, I would like to be excused from answering any questions other than those which are now before the Senate.
SEN. ROCO. Mr. Chief Justice.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. What is the pleasure of the distinguished Senator Roco?
SEN. ROCO. Just as a member of the Impeachment Court, Mr. Chief Justice, both parties alluded to the senators as members of the Blue Ribbon. And I thought as a member of the court and as a member of the Blue Ribbon Committee, it requires, at least, a manifestation.
The Senate and the members of the Senate, of course, are not bound by how counsel for the prosecution and how counsel for the defense may characterize us. But the Blue Ribbon investigation, Mr. President, was in aid of legislation, I think the chairman is beside you, and we did try to adhere all throughout, Mr. President, to pursue the investigation in aid of legislation. As for the expectations of counsel for the defense, that that notwithstanding each member of this Impeachment Court shall therefore render impartial justice to all, that is exactly the oath we took, Mr. President, and as a member of the court I wish to manifest that for the benefit of both parties.
Thank you, Mr. Chief Justice.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Thank you.
The distinguished Senator Enrile.
SEN. ENRILE. Thank you, Mr. Chief Justice.
I would like to get the guidance of the chair with respect to what was discussed previously and that is the opening statements on both sides of this case.
My understanding of the rules that we adopted, Mr. Presiding Officer of the trial, is that the case on each side shall be opened by one person. If I understood the proposal of the prosecution, they want four persons to open the statement for the prosecution side. May I know whether this procedure is in accordance with the rules of this impeachment trial?
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Thank you, Your Honor. That was precisely the reason why the Chair earlier said that the matter will be taken up afterwards.
SEN. ENRILE. Thank you.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Perhaps there will be an appropriate motion from the majority leader for a caucus on this issue because it might really involve a suspension of the Rules of the Impeachment Court.
THE MAJORITY LEADER. Mr. Chief Justice, I move to suspend for a few minutes to allow us to go into caucus to discuss certain matters.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Any objection? There being none, for how many minutes would be the suspension?
THE MAJORITY LEADER. One hour.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. From 45 minutes to one hour.
THE MAJORITY LEADER. Thank you very much, sir.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Session is suspended for 45 minutes to one hour.
THE SESSION WAS SUSPENDED AT 3:25 P.M.
AT 4:14 P.M., THE IMPEACHMENT TRIAL RESUMED.
THE SENATE SECRETARY (MR. BARBO). Please all rise. The Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr.
RESUMPTION OF SESSION
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. The session is resumed.
The Majority Leader.
THE MAJORITY LEADER. Mr. Chief Justice, as a privilege motion this afternoon we heard counsel referred to the senators as jurors, I believe, Mr. Chief Justice, in the Clinton trial, this was an issue raised by Senator Harkin, he pointed out that the senators are not to be referred to as jurors precisely because it is not so stated in our rules and there’s a difference and distinction between jurors and senators sitting in an impeachment court. Regular jurors do not normally know each other and are supposed to know nothing about the case. They are sequestered and are not supposed to read the papers or listen to radio or watch television or supposed to discuss the case with other persons. So may I move that the Chair make an appropriate statement on this matter.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the Constitution, the Senate is the judge in impeachment cases and therefore more appropriately and correctly the distinguished senators should be known as judges, not jurors especially so that under the Rules of the Senate on Impeachment, the senators can ask questions limited to two minutes. This is really a prerogative of a judge, not of a juror because a juror cannot ask any question. So, henceforth, the distinguished senators when sitting in the Impeachment Court shall be known as and addressed as judges.
THE MAJORITY LEADER. Thank you very much, Chief Justice.
May we now hear a ruling from the Chair on the motions?
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. The ruling of the Chair on the motions would only be expressing what the distinguished judges had agreed upon during the break.
We will first resolve the urgent ex parte motion to allow multiple presentors of opening statement. The Impeachment Court resolves to adhere strictly to Rule XXII, of Resolution No. 68 of the Senate, meaning that the case on each side shall be opened by only one person. This will not prevent, however, those assigned to the specific article on the part of the prosecution and also on the part of the defense to submit a position paper to be taken up only by the spokesman, meaning, the spokesman shall now consolidate everything and present the statement of the case and the defense on the part of the defense. However, this spokesman can have a maximum of two hours for each side.
On the other incidents, the Impeachment Court consolidates the three motions for leave to take deposition upon oral examination of the parties mentioned, namely, Wilfredo Vergara, the general manager of the Philippine Clearing House; and Ms. Betty. Bagsit, as corrected, of Equitable PCI Bank.
The Court observes that the proposed deposing officer is the Senate Secretary, Lutgardo Barbo.
Under Section 10, of Rule 23 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, “Within the Philippines depositions may be taken before any judge, notary public, or the person referred to in Section 14 of the Rule.”
Section 14 provides, “If the parties so stipulate in writing depositions may be taken before any person authorized to administer oaths at any time or place in accordance with these rules, and when so taken may be used like other depositions.”
The Impeachment Court takes judicial notice of the fact that Secretary Barbo is not a judge or a notary public.
Under Item (L) of Rule 5 of the Rules of the Senate, the Secretary is empowered to administer oath as a notary ex officio of the Senate. He can, therefore, be a deposing officer under Section 14 of Rule 23 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure provided that the parties can in writing agree. But the motion was objected to, so, there is no point of an agreement in writing.
Moreover, the Court is of the belief that the witnesses anyway are available at anytime. As a matter of fact, it would be better for them to testify in open session for the judges to be able to observe more properly and sufficiently their demeanor and manner of testifying which are very important indicia in determining the truthfulness of the testimony given. In this regard, therefore, the Impeachment Court would for this case pro hac vice deny the request for the oral deposition of the witnesses. It would not mean that in other instances a request for deposition may not be granted, pro hac vice, only for this in the meantime.
On the Motion for The Issuance of Subpoena Ad Testificandum and Subpoena Duces Tecum on Jinggoy Estrada, Roberto Lastimoso, Anton Prieto, and Subpoena Duces Tecum to Yolanda Ricaforte, the Court would first make the observation that the three of them are already described as hostile witnesses. The Court is not prepared to admit at this time that the three of these witnesses are hostile. That can only be determined in the course of testimony of particular witness, and that would be in accord with Section 10 (e) of Rule 132 of the Rules of Court. So, while the subpoenas may be issued, it is only for the reason that they are witnesses to be presented. In due time, the prosecution may announce that they should be considered hostile only for the purpose of allowing leading questions under Section 10 of Rule 132 of the Rules of Court.
And finally, on the Urgent Motion for an Order Allowing Ocular Inspection of Certain Places, the motion asserts that the ocular inspection is to corroborate the testimony of Governor Singson, that he had been to these places. The Court believes that the appropriate time, therefore, to require for an ocular inspection is not now, but during or in the course of the testimony of Governor Singson that he had been to these places. The Court believes that the appropriate time therefore to require for an ocular inspection is not now but during or in the course of the testimony of Governor Singson because the purpose is only to corroborate. So, in the meantime, the motion for an order allowing ocular inspection of certain places is deferred until the appropriate time.
The subpoena duces tecum, as requested in the case of Ricaforte, may be issued. The subpoena ad testificandum on Anton Prieto, Roberto Lastimoso, may be issued for their appearance on the date stated in the application. But since the prosecution had accommodated the request of Mr. Jinggoy Estrada, the subpoena may be issued later.
Yes, the Majority Leader is now recognized.
THE MAJORITY LEADER. Mr. Chief Justice, the Senate Impeachment Court is in receipt of the Answer/ Plea of the defense filed on December 1, 2000 and Notice of Appearance of Jose B. Flaminiano, counsel for the defense, on December 1, 2000.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Let the plea or answer and the entry of appearance be made part of the journal for today’s proceedings.
THE MAJORITY LEADER. Thank you, Mr. Chief Justice.
Mr. Chief Justice, I move that we adjourn.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. I understand that there seems to be some kind of a necessity to fix a motion day. So, to avoid the call of the Court at any given time to act on certain motions which could be taken up on a specific date, as agreed in the caucus, the Court has fixed as motion days Mondays, unless, of course, there are compelling reasons to hear and submit the motion coming from either side of the … from the defense or from the prosecution, or for the defense.
And, finally, in view of the desire of the Impeachment Court to be able to expedite the proceedings, and considering that under the Rules of the Senate, as an Impeachment Court, pre trial may be allowed by its adoption of the Rules of Court, the Court would highly appreciate it very much if the lawyers on both sides can sit immediately after for the possibility of exploring the areas to be covered by a preliminary conference or pre trial. Or you want another day because the Court really intends to conduct the preliminary conference and on the possibility of many things to expedite the proceedings.
1. Simplification of issues;
2. The possibility of obtaining stipulations of facts or admission of facts and of documents to avoid unnecessary delay.
Then, the limitation of the number of witnesses and the duration of their examination, both in direct or on cross examination.
Then, the taking up deposition. Perhaps, if we have already the list of your witnesses, ano, we can have a timetable of the proceedings and specify the dates and the hours when a group of witnesses or some of them, or a few of them, may be called to testify or may simply be subject to deposition taking either by oral deposition or written interrogatories or whatever may be agreeable to the parties. Then the marking of exhibits.
Yes, the Honorable Gonzales.
REP. GONZALES. Thank you, Mr. Chief Justice.
Just two points, Your Honor. First, the setting of Monday as a motion day because I would assume that all motions here are litigated motions and, therefore, we are bound by the three day rules and there will always be the Saturday and Sunday in between a situation, Your Honor. It might be difficult to set it on a Monday.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Would you suggest any particular day? Because if it is just to comply with the three-day rule, the pleading may be filed on a Friday or on a Thursday. So the first day of the week, you can have a ruling.
REP. GONZALES. I think, Your Honor, we would still prefer a Friday motion day.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. The matter would be submitted to the Honorable Judges.
Is there any …
Yes. First, we will recognize the defense.
MR. MENDOZA. We agree with the proposal of the prosecution, Your Honor.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. On a Friday?
MR. MENDOZA. On a Friday.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. The matter, again, would be submitted to the Honorable Judges.
Is there any objection from the Judges?
THE MAJORITY LEADER. There is no objection, Mr. Chief Justice.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. There being none, as moved without objection on the part of the defense, the motion day for the Impeachment Court will be Fridays, afternoon, 2:00 o’clock.
REP. GONZALES. Thank you, Mr. Chief Justice.
The second point, Your Honor, is the matter of witnesses. We are hesitant to stipulate in advance about witnesses because of security. Our witnesses are, as a matter of fact, even now are hesitant. You would have read in the papers about the statement of Mr. Yasay about two of the witnesses which, in fact, I will be presenting as starting to get scarce. And, therefore, we hope that that point will be left to us.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. But would you have any objection to holding a preliminary conference or pre trial?
REP. GONZALES. We have no objection although earlier on, Mr. Chief Justice, I think Attorney Mendoza had a short conversation with us here and we were willing… in fact, he is willing to discuss some matters about arrangements in the hall, but not much on the matters which would go into the issue of witnesses and … unless he said we will give him advance information on who are our witnesses, which we are not at liberty to do, unless the President is suspended, Mr. Chief Justice.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. You may have a point there but if you do not have any objection on the preliminary conference, during the preliminary conference, you can just simply mention the number of witnesses you are going to submit, ‘no, or to present, and the length of time each may.
So, it’s up to you to agree during the preliminary conference. The idea really is to shorten the proceedings.
REP. GONZALES. Yes …
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. You may not disclose the names and the witness but at least you will already have an idea of the length his testimony will be in direct examination, on direct examination, as well as on cross examination, because the other party will be asked “How long would your cross examination be?”
REP. GONZALES. Well, yes, Mr. Chief Justice, we understand that situation. But we would like also to advance this information to Your Honor and to Your Honors. That as the situation, as the events unfold, and even now, Your Honors, witnesses surface, which are not yet in our list and then we are still studying whether these witnesses are credible or not. So, at this point in time, we would not be at liberty to even tell you if we’ll have five witnesses for this particular article or less, depending. But we would be as candid as possible, Your Honor, to inform Your Honor and the adverse party of the possible number of witnesses that we will be having. But at this point in time, we are not yet in a position to do that, Your Honor.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Well, anyway, since the trial will begin on the seventh, and will be continued daily, Mondays to Fridays, from two to seven in the evening, I would suppose that on the first two days, you would be able to complete the…
REP. GONZALES. Ah, yes, Your Honor.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. …. testimony of some witnesses.
REP. GONZALES. Yes, yes, Your Honor.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Are you presenting witnesses other than those for whom a subpoena duces tecum and subpoena ad testificandum had been solicited earlier?
REP. GONZALES. May I, Your Honor, request Commissioner Apostol to answer that because he will be presenting the first article.
REP. APOSTOL. Thank you. Mr. Chief Justice, the reasons why we requested for oral deposition deposition is to obviate lengthy presentation of the witnesses. We are more we are trying just to show the flow of the checks here. But if we will present them here, we will consume, at least, an average per witness about six hours.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. How many hours?
REP. APOSTOL. Six hours.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Six.
REP. APOSTOL. Two hours per witness…
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Two hours.
REP. APOSTOL. … on direct alone. Well, most probably, no. Well, on direct, about an hour. I don’t know how long will the cross…
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Do you consider the six, to include already the…
REP. APOSTOL. The cross examination.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. … probable length of the cross examination?
REP. APOSTOL. Yes, Your Honor. That’s why we opted for that deposition on oral taking of deposition oral examination so that while we are having trial here, we can expedite the proceedings by having also the deposition. However, that’s out.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Probably, we’ll have to explain to you why it would even be longer under your proposal.
REP. APOSTOL. Well…
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Well, you have to get somebody who is really qualified to act as a deposing officer.
Secondly, during the deposition taking, the parties will have to conduct the direct examination and the adverse counsel will conduct the cross examination.
Secondly, the deposing officer cannot make any ruling on objections. All objections will have to be submitted to the Impeachment Court. And then, when you have the report submitted already by the deposing officer, the report itself may be objected by the parties. And all the objections raised during the deposition taking will have to be ruled upon by the Impeachment Court. So, it will be much longer.
REP. APOSTOL. Yes, that’s long, Your Honor. But that assumes that the testimony of the deponent will be presented before this honorable body. We may choose not to present at all.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. But that is insofar as the proponent is concerned. Remember that the other party may also present this if it is favorable to the other party. And you cannot prevent that.
REP. APOSTOL. That’s true. But since we are on the mode of discovery here, we are opting on that area. However, that’s beside the point.
Now, on the number of witnesses, well, we think that our principal witness will take about three or four hours of direct examination.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. On direct alone.
REP. APOSTOL. On direct. And then, I don’t know how long the cross examination will take. Then, we have, at least, three principal witnesses on bribery. So…
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. For each article…
REP. APOSTOL. No.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. … or for all?
REP. APOSTOL. No, Your Honor. Four, Article I. And
then about two or three or we will be forced to present the other three witnesses which we intend to where we intend to take the deposition. Because we do believe that we have to satisfy…
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Yes. With, that, therefore, as a basis, we would see how fruitful it be if we have a preliminary conference.
REP. APOSTOL. Yes.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. So, we can have an estimate really of the length of the testimonies and preparing the guide the timetable for the proceedings.
Yes, the Honorable Arroyo.
REP. ARROYO. Mr. Chief Justice, the prosecution labors under the job of having to prove four articles. We have been at this, I mean the prosecution side and each article is by itself one case and that one case will consume a lot of time.
I am not saying anything, but I wonder whether we could adopt something where on direct examination we can abbreviate it. Let us say, the prosecution witness can be presented and be given a free flow of histestimony, just like an affidavit. Then, he is open to the cross examination of the defense. The reason for that is our witness has to tell his story because, well, unfortunately, for this kind of a proceeding the whole country is watching us and they would not know what our evidence is if they don’t read, at least, a statement.
Now, it’s entirely now up to the defense to cross examine our witnesses and any delay will now be how far or how intense the cross-examination will be. But if in the direct examination we will be bogged down because of objections, I think that we fear that this will be a long, long time. This is our fear really.
Let us say, we have five witnesses for the first article of Congressman Apostol, he is assigned to that. Those five witnesses, while they are testifying and there’s a lot of objection, then that will delay considerably the proceeding.
Then my turn on Article II, I’ve more witnesses than Congressman Apostol. That will take a lot of time.
And so Congressman Gonzales takes Article III. He has several witnesses.
Then Article IV will be taken over by Congressman Tañada. He has I don’t know how many he has because we have divided it.
So, we are exploring ways to minimize really the objections. That is what will bog us down. How we could present this.
If we will be allowed on direct examination, like it is done in the fiscal, except that it should be read just for the consumption of the listeners, that’s fine with us if it would be all right with the Impeachment Court. Just a suggestion.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Yes.
REP. ARROYO. For the consideration of the Chair and the Impeachment Court.
Now, the other one is, it’s no joke, Mr. Chief Justice, to be standing here for two hours. Mr.Mendoza took 29 hours in the motion to quash 29 minutes. It took me 22 minutes. But someone here who will make the opening argument for two hours, concentrating on what he will do is a little the job is tough.
And since we are four…. That’s the reason why we thought of proposing this idea of dividing each one of us, which is our field of expertise. We could present it, so that it is easier for the understanding of the Impeachment Court. But if the one who will explain it is not the one who will present it, it will be very difficult. I mean, these are ideas we are thinking aloud, Mr. Chief Justice, for the consideration of our colleagues in the Senate.
Thank you very much.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Yeah, as to the second, that would involve a suspension of the rules…
REP. ARROYO. Which….
THE PRESIDING OFFICER….and so that it should be submitted to the Senate not as an Impeachment Court but as the legislative Senate, because the rules were promulgated by the Senate not yet as an Impeachment Court or was it already an impeachment court?
Not yet. So it will have to convene on….
REP. ARROYO. We leave it to the Senate. We leave it to the Senate…
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Yeah.
REP. ARROYO…to do that.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. On the first matter that you took up, on the possibility of abbreviating the direct testimony, by what you have suggested, that in itself makes compelling the pre trial, because you can present your views during the pre trial and the parties can agree on what scheme to adopt precisely to expedite the proceeding. But that matter would, of course, involve a consent of the honorable members of the Impeachment Court.
So, I guess that, and we pray, that the parties will be just too willing to submit themselves to a preliminary conference.
REP. ARROYO. Of course. We yield to the desire of the Chair.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Would you want it immediately done after this? We’ll make it…
MR. DAZA. Your Honor.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Yes?
MR. DAZA. All of these concerns with which we empathize are matters that ought to be taken in preliminary conference. And we would leave it to Your Honor to fix the time for the preliminary conference.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Exactly.
REP. DAZA. And we’re ready to cooperate so that the trial could be expedited…
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Would you want another day for the preliminary before the 7th? You want it tomorrow afternoon, so you will be able to…
REP. ARROYO. I’ve heard from our colleagues in the Senate, they want it after…
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Immediately after? now? or another day?
REP. ARROYO. No, no. Now? Or tomorrow? (addressing some senators judges).
SEN. DRILON. Tomorrow.
REP. ARROYO. I yield to what the senators say. After all, they will be the judges.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. What was the suggestion?
VOICES FROM THE SENATORS. Tomorrow. Tomorrow.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Tomorrow?
REP. ARROYO. We yield to the Senate.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. So we’ll have it tomorrow, pre trial? Would the parties be available tomorrow at two o’clock, pre trial already?
Yes, the Honorable Senator and Judge Enrile?
SEN. ENRILE. Are the members of the impeachment court to be present in this preliminary conference? Or should this not be left to the two opposing sides, Mr. Chief Justice?
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. The Chair is willing to receive any proposal to that effect. It could be the entire court or just a representative group. Anyway, after this, a pre trial order or a preliminary conference order will be issued on what matters you have agreed upon.
SEN. ENRILE. Mr. Chief Justice, in ordinary and normal cases, the problem of stipulating on the facts or admission of evidence without contest is a function to be performed by the counsels for the opposing sides and the judge ought not to be present.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Usually, we would have the presence of a judge in order to bring the parties together, otherwise they might not be able to agree. Some kind of political will on the part of the judge may be very, very important.
SEN. ENRILE. Mr. Chief Justice, that is precisely the function of the Presiding Justice of the Supreme Court to perform.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Well, if the Honorable Judges would delegate that matter to the Presiding Justice, it would not be a problem.
SEN. ENRILE. Mr. Chief Justice, the understanding of this representation is that a pre trial conference incident of this trial is a part of the trial and, therefore, it should be handled by the Presiding Officer of the trial which is the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court no less…
SEN. CAYETANO. Mr. Chief Justice.
SEN. ENRILE. …without the participation of those that will finally render the verdict in this particular case.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Yes.
SEN. ENRILE. I submit, Mr. Chief Justice.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Yes, Senator Cayetano.
SEN. CAYETANO. With the permission of the Presiding Justice, Mr. Chief Justice.
Well, the Rules of Court require the presence of the judge in a pre trial conference. It is a mandatory requirement because, precisely, the idea is to bring the parties together.
Now, since we are several judges senators here, Mr. Chief Justice, if my colleagues would like, and this is consonant to the proposal of Senator Enrile, perhaps those who wish the senators who wish to be present during the pre trial conference may do so in order to acquaint themselves exactly what will be taken up for their own information and, precisely, you know, to abbreviate this proceeding.
But, generally, Mr. Chief Justice, I submit that, you know, the judges should be present.
SEN. BIAZON. Mr. Chief Justice.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Yes, the Honorable Senator Judge Biazon
SEN. BIAZON. I support the manifestation of the gentleman from Taguig, Mr. Chief Justice. Because there is a distinct possibility that not only will the matters directly related to the case or evidences to be presented, but it could as a matter of fact touch on the possibility of amending the Rules that might have been already adopted by the Senate. In which case, this is a matter definitely, for the member Senator Judges, Mr. Chief Justice.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Okay.
The Honorable Apostol.
REP. APOSTOL. Mr. Chief Justice, Your Honors. In pre trial conference in civil cases, there is no problem because the parties, together with their lawyers, can appear and the conference will bind the parties. In fact, they might execute powers of attorney.
In criminal cases, again the defense can bring along the accused and then enter into some amicable settlement. I do not know how we will combine the House of Representatives here. Perhaps, the defense can bind their clients, but for us, during the pre trial conference, I do not see how we can bind the House of Representatives or the government of this Republic.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. We will see how we progress during the preliminary conference. There may be some areas which will not require really the full consent of the House of Representatives. It may be just a matter of the presentation of the evidence…
REP. APOSTOL. In fact, some members of the House…
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. …to the extent that it might, then the pre trial conference may not enter into that particular area. So, only in areas where the prosecutors and the defense can act.
REP. APOSTOL. Well, perhaps on one area our witnesses can identify and recognize the respondent here.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. That’s why that has been taken up in the course of the preliminary conference.
But may the Chair suggest, it turns out that tomorrow, the court will be having a lecture with a Justice of the Israel Supreme Court as a lecturer.
Would the Chair request that the preliminary conference be on the sixth, not tomorrow, 2:00 o’clock in the afternoon?
MR. DAZA. We have no objection to that. As we said, Your Honor, as far as the defense is concerned, we would leave it to the discretion of the…
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. At least, you also would really have time to prepare and just consider what the Chair had announced earlier on the matters to be taken up during the preliminary conference:
(1) Simplification of the issues;
(2) The possibility of obtaining stipulation of facts or admission of facts and of documents to avoid unnecessary proof;
(3) The limitation of the number of witnesses, and the duration of the reexamination if it can be done;
(4) The taking of depositions of witnesses as an omnibus resolution on the matter.
And there was also that suggestion of Congressman Arroyo on the matter of how to abbreviate the direct testimony of a witness; the marking of exhibits would be. And finally, and more importantly, the fixing of the timetable for determination of the case and the calendar of the trial and such other matters which may aid us in expediting the impeachment proceedings.
So, that would be taken up on the sixth of this month.
MR. DAZA. Your Honor, the venue for the pre trial conference, where will it be?
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. We can have it here. May I have the permission of the Senate President and Judge also, to have it here or at the caucus room?
MR. DAZA. Or the caucus room of…The caucus room would be acceptable to us.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. The caucus room, the caucus room, yes, yes.
MR. DAZA. So we can…That’s a day before the trial and there might be preparations that have to be made in the hall. So…
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Yes.
MR. DAZA. …if it be in some other venue within this building, that would be acceptable to us.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. The leadership of the Senate is working fast on the physical arrangements of the courtroom. I think this will really be converted into a courtroom later on.
MR. DAZA. Yes. So, this would be the caucus room, Your Honor?
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. We will have it..
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. …We will have it in the caucus room.
MR. DAZA. That’s fine with us. That’s acceptable.
REP. ARROYO. Mr. Chief Justice, just one last point.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Yes.
REP. ARROYO. With leave of the chair, I am really addressing it to the Senate President and the Senate about this opening argument. We are having difficulty in this matter. In fact, this is the most important matter for us today. We could live with the others but the opening argument, we are going to this — somebody will speak about matters which he is not, absolutely has no knowledge. In other words, he is going to speak, he will be like a parrot talking about something that he doesn’t know. And that is really what we are trying to say.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Yeah.
REP. ARROYO. That if we could… So I am addressing this to our colleagues in the Senate and the Senate President, whether they could take it up and see what would be done on that matter. Thank you very much, Justice.
MR. DAZA. Your Honor, Congressman Arroyo certainly just speaks for the prosecution when he says that someone would speak like a parrot. That he, I am sure, is not speaking for the defense. Whether it be one or more of us, we are not going to speak like parrots before this honorable Impeachment Tribunal.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. As stated earlier by the chair, that would involve a suspension of the Rules of the Senate acting as a Senate and that matter should be submitted to the Senate acting as such not as an Impeachment Court.
Yes, the Majority Leader?
THE MAJORITY LEADER. Mr. Chief Justice, if we can just go back to the matter of the pre-trial, the minority leader and some of his colleagues in the minority are of the view that that is best conducted here rather than in caucus. They want it to be in the open.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. This would be pre-trial only, preliminary conference and I think we can expedite the proceedings and the parties could perhaps abbreviate also the period for agreeing or disagreeing if it would be at the caucus room.
THE MAJORITY LEADER. No television?
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. So I hope that the minority and the majority leaders would withdraw the proposal?
SEN. DRILON. Mr. Chief Justice, point of inquiry?
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Yes.
SEN. DRILON. Is it a preliminary pre-trial or is it a pre-trial?
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Well, we can call it preliminary conference or pre-trial.
SEN. DRILON. So it is a pre-trial?
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Yes or preliminary conference. Both will have the same effect.
SEN. DRILON. All right. Because if it is indeed a pre-trial, then I think there should be a quorum and therefore there must be a roll call.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. That would be another view and perhaps you can take that up but the Chair believes that after the pre-trial there will be a pre-trial order or a preliminary conference order. And the matter will be submitted to the parties as well as to the judges. And you may have some modification or amendments thereto. It would not yet be immediately executory or binding.
THE MAJORITY LEADER. I believe, Mr. Chief Justice, that sufficiently clarifies.
SEN. DRILON/THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Yes.
SEN. DRILON. Mr. Chief Justice…
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. With the permission of the Majority Leader,…
SEN. DRILON. With the permission of the majority leader.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. …we recognize Judge-Senator Drilon.
SEN. DRILON. If it is going to be a pre-trial then, you know, issues, it would be convenient before we have a pre-trial brief presented before us and I do not know whether the counsels would be willing to go through that.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Yes, as a matter of fact the Chair mentioned twice what should be taken up during the pre-trial. And therefore, the parties can, on or before, the afternoon, 2 o’clock in the afternoon of 6…
THE SENATE PRESIDENT (SEN. PIMENTEL). December 6.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. …December, the parties may submit their pre-trial briefs on these issues. For instance on the matter of facts to be admitted there could be proposal to the other party to admit these facts or these documents.
MR. MENDOZA. Mr. Chief Justice?
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. As a matter of fact, if the parties would really agree now to submit a pre-trial brief that day or before that particular hour of 6 December, better yet. But that is optional.
MR. MENDOZA. Mr. Chief Justice?
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Optional. Optional.
MR. MENDOZA. May I?
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Yeah, be recognized.
MR. MENDOZA. The trial in this case is scheduled for December 7, ano. I speak very candidly, we are completely occupied with preparing for trial. I must say very candidly, we would have no time anymore to prepare a pre trial brief. I would suggest we do not call this a pre trial because the word “pre trial” has a technical meaning in the Rules of Court. You need authorization from your principal, we need to stipulate on facts. I think this is somewhat unlikely. Rather, a preliminary conference we can agree, I think, more easily on certain procedural matters and I think we can reach agreement better if we do not do it in this hall where it is somewhat formal, rather in a more informal atmosphere where not everything is necessarily recorded and we can accommodate each other. So, I would suggest that we just consider this a preliminary conference and hold it in the caucus room and that exchanges between parties need not be taken down in stenographic notes. Whatever is agreed upon, if there can be agreement on anything will be then recorded.
REP. ARROYO. Mr. Chief Justice.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Yes.
REP. ARROYO. We join the defense on the observations.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Practically, it is a joint motion. So, call it preliminary conference to avoid any technical issue on the matter.
Secondly, it would be at the caucus room.
Then, finally, it would be at 2 o’clock on 6 December 2000.
The Majority Leader.
THE MAJORITY LEADER. Mr. Chief Justice, there being no further business, I move that we adjourn the impeachment trial until 2 o’clock in the afternoon on Thursday, December 7, year 2000…
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Without prejudice to the pre trial because…
THE MAJORITY LEADER. …without prejudice…
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. To the preliminary conference.
THE MAJORITY LEADER. …to the preliminary conference taking place at 2 o’clock in the afternoon of December 6.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Pre trial is adjourned until the date stated, as so modified.
THE PRE TRIAL WAS ADJOURNED AT 5:01 P.M.