Chief Justice Renato C. Corona and Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, through their testimonies, provided the turning point of the impeachment trial, said Senator-Judge Edgardo J. Angara.
"I found it difficult to make a decision two-thirds through the trial. However with the appearance of the Ombudsman and the testimony of the Chief Justice himself, the whole picture came together not just for me, but for many of my colleagues as well. You can see this sentiment reflected in the overwhelming vote," explained Angara, who was the first to cast a guilty verdict yesterday.
Angara expained that many issues discussed in the course of the impeachment trial that began on January 16 were cleared up in the past few weeks.
"The Chief Justice clarified many of the issues such as the true value of his dollar accounts, which was the subject of so much speculation. We knew he had foreign currency deposits, but the exact amounts they contained came from him. We did not even know that he had other apparently much bigger peso accounts.
"We lawyers call that 'admission and avoidance'. You admit to doing something, but argue that it is justifiable."
Angara said the three co-equal branches of government have lessons to learn from this process, although he emphasized the need to move on from this episode.
"A process like this will always be divisive and disruptive. But, more important, it is cleansing. There is a sense of cleaning up, and now we are on our way toward healing," he said.
Furthermore, the impeachment trial reinforced the importance of transparency and accountability among government officials and civil servants.
"From now on, people in public service will take the SALN more seriously, fill it up honestly and accurately," he stressed.
The veteran lawmaker said the Senate will now make use of less than two calendar weeks before Congress goes on break for pending legislative work.
"Most of our legislative work has been put on hold because of the trial, so we need to catch up," said Angara.