Author: Jill Christianae A. Rendon
Not known to many is the fact that a Boholano lawmaker is very much in-the-know as far as Chief Justice’s Renato Corona’s impeachment trial is concerned. While the public see only the (11) eleven public prosecutors led by Cong. Neil Tupas of Iloilo as Chief Prosecutor, there are actually (18) eighteen members of the House of Representatives who are working full-time in the impeachment process that seeks to prosecute and convict the Chief Justice.
The eleven public prosecutors are led by Cong. Jun Abaya as the Impeachment Manager, Cong. Jun Tupas as Chief Prosecutor, Cong. Rudy Fariñas as Deputy Chief Prosecutor. The rest are: Rep. Giorgidi Aggabao, Rep. Arlene “Kaka” Bag-ao (Akbayan party-list), Rep. Elpidio Barzaga, Jr., Rep. Neri Colmenares (Bayan Muna party-list), Rep. Raul Daza, Reynaldo Umali, Rep. Marlyn Primicias-Agabas and Rep. Sherwin Tugna (Citizens’ Battle Against Corruption party-list)
Four of the eighteen who are with public relations and the media are Cong. Miro Quimbo – Lead Spokesperson, Cong. Erin Tañada and Cong. Sonny Angara as Deputy Spokespersons and not often seen by the public, Cong. Bem Noel of An Waray Party List who is handling all media-related activities of the prosecution team.
The remaining three representatives composing the prosecution team are with the Secretariat that serves as the support group of the house prosecution panel. They are Cong. Bolet Banal who holds the Administrative, Finance and Logistics Group; Cong. Irvin Alcala who heads the Evidence Gathering Group and Cong. Rene Relampagos, Bohol’s First District Representative as the over-all chairperson of the Secretariat.
When asked to comment on his reported active involvement in the impeachment trial, Relampagos confirmed that indeed he has been given such responsibility by the house leadership led by Speaker Sonny Belmonte.
Relampagos added that other than the two groups already mentioned, there is also a third group in the Secretariat headed by a non-House member in the person of Atty. Bo Pichay who heads the Legal and Technical group. While it may be true that the Secretariat has a Legal and Technical group, each public prosecutor is assisted by his or her own legal staff composed of private lawyers who are working pro bono. When pressed to comment just how many private lawyers are assisting the public prosecutors, Relampagos responded, “a lot – about 58.”
The house prosecution panel Secretariat which holds office at the Ambrosio Padilla room, on the second floor of the Philippine Senate Office is composed of (40) forty personnel with various tasks and responsibilities: from lawyers to stenographers, reproduction machine operators, security personnel, drivers, clerks and utility men.
Relampagos said that being where the action is has been an enlightening and a great learning experience for him and he is grateful for the trust, opportunity and privilege given him as a lawmaker. Presently, the solon is in his first term as member of the House of Representatives and yet he has been elected as Chairperson on one of the major standing House committees, the Committee on Human Rights. He is likewise the Vice-Chairman on the Committee on Information and Communications Technology and Member of the following committees: Committee on Accounts, Committee on Tourism, Committee on Transportation, Committee on Higher and Technical Education and Congressional Oversight Committee on Biofuels.
When asked to predict the future of Corona in the impeachment process, Relampagos had a simple response, “He will be convicted.”