IF former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile acting as a private prosecutor for the House of Representatives in the impeachment case of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno before the Senate pushes through, then we can expect the kind of riveting legal clashes we saw in the CJ Renato Corona impeachment trial.
Enrile was presiding judge in the Corona trial and his exchanges with the late defense lawyer Serafin Cuevas were not only enlightening even for non-lawyers but were entertaining as well. With Enrile, this time at the prosecuting side, the camp of Sereno better find someone in the calibre of Cuevas to cross swords with Enrile.
Personally saw during a nearly 90 minute interview how at 92 Enrile is still as sharp as a katana as he discussed a lot of weighty issues like the impeachment case, the West Philippine Sea dispute, and why the International Criminal Court can never acquire jurisdiction over President Rodrigo Duterte.
“The Philippines can just withdraw from the ICC and they can never touch him,” Enrile said words to this effect referring to the ICC and Duterte.
As always, Enrile was not only reliant on his stock knowledge as a brilliant lawyer, seasoned lawmaker and experienced executive official; he obviously did his homework in his discussions. In fact, he even provided a brief on the impeachment trial that was very clear and like nothing of the rubbish legalese we read from many lawyers’ submissions.
In that brief, Enrile reiterated that an impeachment would not require that prosecutors prove their case beyond reasonable doubt as is required to get a conviction in a criminal case. He pointed out that mere preponderance of evidence would be enough to get a conviction.
The entry of Enrile in the impeachment trial of Sereno is, to my mind a game-changer. If there is one person the Sereno camp should prepare for, it’s Manong Johnny.