One thing that seems obvious from the first two weeks of the Corona impeachment trial is that we do not seem to know much about the legal system. We seem, for example, to think that judges should be like the Judges of the bible, ready and eager to smite impertinent lawyers and/or Philistines.
The Internet (Pinoy chapter) was full of praise when former actual judge, quasi-judge, and future international court judge Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago berated lawyers from both sides for arguing when she wanted to speak:
Excerpts from the comments thread of a Yahoo! Philippines story on her outburst:’
That sure showed those pompous lawyers pompously doing their jobs and pompously arguing legal points what’s what. Shame on them for doing things like citing boring laws and, in the case of private prosecutor Arthur Lim, making emphatic hand gestures.
Lim wanted BIR chief Kim Henares to testify on Corona’s income tax returns but Santiago, and the court, said there was no need for that.
Santiago said she wanted to keep the proceedings short. “Kaya tayo tumatagal, may oration pa eh! (This oration is what is delaying this) This is not a school on oratorical skills. This is a school on logic and experience,” she said before orating for minutes, spewing “at least 3 words per second.” After which, the court was suspended for a few minutes to give people time to calm down.
But what did that really accomplish except further cementing Santiago’s reputation as a lady with a sharp tongue and who speaks her mind never mind who gets offended? Henares testified anyway.
Santiago did it again the next day, shaming Lim in open court and on live TV, after basically saying the impeachment complaint is no good.
Entertaining TV, to be sure, but this is the gem in that long tirade:
Santiago: How many years have you been in trial practice, counsel?
Lim: 42 years, your honor.
Santiago: And what have you specialized in? Is it not true you specialize in maritime law?
Lim: In everything, your honor.
Santiago: What an impertinent answer. Let me get to the point because I might lose my temper with you.
Had that happened, I assume Santiago would have transformed into a primordial dragon beast and devoured Lim as the people at the Senate session hall debate on whether to applaud or scream in terror, and decide to instead go mad. After that, Santiago would disappear into the sea to commune with other creatures of Lovecraftian horror until the trial resumes next week. Basically, what I am saying is “What the fuck?