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Corona apologizes to Senate impeachment court, denies walkout

Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona, with a hep-lock attached to his hand, drinks soda during his impeachment trial at the Senate in Manila May 25, 2012. The Philippines' top judge returned to the witness stand at his own impeachment trial to deny concealing 45 properties and millions in assets and denounce a case President Benigno Aquino sees as key to rooting out corruption. Corona, chief justice of the 15-member Supreme Court, was installed by Aquino's predecessor, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who herself faces election fraud and corruption charges. Corona had left the witness stand during his impeachment trial on May 22, 2012 and was hospitalised after his blood sugar dropped sharply according to his lawyers.(MNS Photo)

MANILA, May 25 (Mabuhay) — Chief Justice Renato Corona denied walking out of his impeachment trial upon his return to the witness stand on Friday, and blamed his diabetic condition for his “disorientation” after his three-hour testimony last Tuesday.

He also apologized to the impeachment court for his abrupt departure from the session hall without waiting to be discharged as a witness, saying he never intended to behave disrespectfully toward the impeachment court.

“Ako po’y nagpapakumbaba at humihingi po ng inyong paumanhin sa nangyari nung Martes… hindi ko po inaasahan na ganun mangyayari… totally unexpected po ‘yung nangyari.  Hindi po ako bastos,” Corona told the impeachment court during Friday’s trial.

Corona said he was unable to read two more pages of his opening statement after he started feeling weak due to low sugar levels, and asked to be excused, as he did not want to fall in front of the tribunal and the television cameras.

“Nagpapakumbaba at humihingi [ako] ng tawad sa inyo sa Senado, sa buong sambayanan, maging sa prosecution na rin at sa aking defense team na rin na ‘di rin naman nila alam ang nangyari,” he said.

Last Tuesday, Corona got up from the witness stand after he concluded his opening statement by saying, “And now, the Chief Justice of the Republic of the Philippines wishes to be excused.” He briskly walked out of the session hall without the court’s permission, prompting Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile to order a lockdown to prevent him from leaving the building’s premises.

According to his lawyers, Corona’s sugar levels went down. Later in the day, he was brought to the Medical City.

Senators then gave Corona until Friday to return to the witness stand, or else they will consider the case submitted.

‘Judicial notice’

Doctors attending to Corona earlier said he could attend the Senate impeachment court on Friday if he wishes to, but warned him of the possible health “risk” that come with it.

On Thursday, he signed a hospital waiver, clearing his doctors of any responsibility if he falls ill during his court appearance.

On Friday, Enrile said the court was taking “judicial notice” of the pronouncements of the chief justice’s doctors.

“Kayo po ba ay handa sa iyong katawan at kaisipan [na] sumali dito sa paglilitis na ito?” the presiding officer asked Corona.

The chief justice said it was “against my better judgment” to return to the Senate, but added that it was his “obligation” to fulfill his promise to the court and explain himself to the public.

“Actually nanghihina pa po ako, pero kakayanin ko po hanggang aking makakaya,” he said.

The magistrate explained that his medical condition was caused by all the stress brought on by the impeachment trial.

“On Tuesday, totally wala po akong tulog. Hindi po madali o masarap itong kinalalagyan ko ngayon… Ako ay hinuhusgahan dito sa trial na ito. Kaya po siguro hindi rin ako nakakain nung lunch time when I came here last time,” the embattled chief justice said.

“I have to admit, with all candor and honesty, nagbaliktad po ang aking sikmura sa nerbyos, kaya po ‘yun siguro ang dahilan ng pagbagsak ng aking blood sugar,” he added. The statement contradicted his earlier assertion last Tuesday that he did not feel any nervousness while appearing before the impeachment court.

He likewise lamented how people do not want to believe his testimony and his condition.

“Nakakalungkot lang po na sa iilan nating mga kababayan, para bagang kailangan pa bang ako’y mamatay para mapatunayan na ako ay nagsasabi ng totoo,” he said. (MNS)

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