POSTSCRIPT / January 26, 2012 / Thursday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Explain, not loosen, the rules of evidence

MIRIAM ON THE JOB: If I may so, I voted for Miriam Defensor Santiago in the last senatorial elections, one of only eight senators on my ballot. (Although worthy, two of my choices lost).

Miriam’s outbursts yesterday at the resumption of the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato C. Corona against the prosecution’s projected use of BIR Commissioner Kim Henares to prove certain allegations against him reassured me that Miriam is an asset in the Senate.

Many times, we need somebody of consequence to challenge or at least throw intense light on information and opinion bandied around in public forums. The senator did that yesterday.

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EXPLAIN, NOT RELAX, THE RULES: Some senators want the rules of evidence relaxed, with Miriam saying that, as in the aborted impeachment trial of then President Joseph Estrada, the watching public might misunderstand and misconstrue the seeming hesitation and the final judgment of the senator-jurors.

With due respect, it seems to me that the solution to a possible misunderstanding by the public is to explain the rules, not to relax them. Let the impeachment trial of the Chief Justice be a learning process for those of us who care to follow it in good faith.

Loosening up the delicate process out of fear of being misunderstood is a lame excuse, hardly befitting senator-jurors and congressmen on the prosecution panel.

As Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile explained from the chair, these rules have been tested and refined through long and arduous use in enlightened democratic societies that value the basic rights of citizens accused of wrongdoing.

Enrile can lead that teaching process. He is learned and patient enough to be able to explain the rules to the watching crowd that form some kind of extended jury. In jurisdictions where the jury system works, the judge explains and thereby guides the jury in forming an opinion.

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TWEETS: Let me pass on some of my random posts (limited to140 characters each) on Twitter re the impeach-Corona trial that some tweeple have retweeted:

* Loosening up rules of evidence out of fear of being misunderstood is a lame excuse hardly befitting honorable senators.

* Instead of relaxing time-tested rules of evidence, explain them to the public watching the impeachment trial. In good faith, we’ll understand.

* PNoy meddling in the impeach-Corona trial makes him a playing coach of prosecution panel.

* Now we know why the House team and its Palace playing coach want to shame CJ Corona into resigning: So they don’t have to prove their charges.

* An accuser must go to the impeachment court with clean hands, but the House prosecutors thought that meant showing up empty-handed.

* Yung ebidensiya sa media hilaw. Yung sa Senado wala pa, kasi fishing for evidence pa sila.

* PNoy is insulting senators by meddling in impeach-Corona trial. He should leave the case to their collective wisdom.

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IBC REHAB: At the once-troubled Intercontinental Broadcasting Corp. network, good things are happening. A public-private partnership is seen taking shape to solve its financial woes, deal with the restive workers and make the property acceptable to potential buyers.

The IBC compound in Capitol Hills, Quezon City, is now in the thick of development of its compound and converting a major portion into a mixed commercial and residential project.

Stakeholders are optimistic that the joint venture will rescue the foundering broadcast firm. It has been reeling from more than a billion-peso worth of debts, with hundreds of millions more in unpaid benefits to its active and retired employees.

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PRIMESTATE VENTURES: The private investors in IBC is Primestate Ventures Inc., which records show has agreed to infuse P728 million, or roughly P20,000 per square meter, into the broadcast firm in a span of six years.

Primestate Ventures said that part of the money can be used in modernizing the two studios in the dilapidated IBC compound, IBC 13 and RPN 9, to enable them to compete with major networks ABS-CBN Channel 2 and GMA 7.

In exchange, IBC has agreed to invest 3.6 hectares of its 4.1-hectare property in the Broadcast City for a mixed residential and commercial complex.

Because of its financial woes, IBC has been exploring ways to finance its day-to-day operations. However, because of its yearly loss of P80 million on top of its obligations to workers and creditors, not one company, except PVI, has offered a viable proposal.

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DEAL DETAILS: Last year, property developer Primestate Ventures submitted an unsolicited joint venture proposal to develop the Broadcast City compound in six years guaranteeing IBC revenues of P728 million.

The IBC board and the workers’ unions, with the supervision and subsequent endorsement of the Joint Venture-Selection Committee, approved the deal in March 2010.

The committee includes representatives from the Office of the President through the Public Information Agency, Commission on Audit, Presidential Commission on Good Government, National Economic and Development Authority, and the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel.

Employees have started getting their share of P278 million reserved for them. The amount had already been placed in an escrow with the bank, scheduled for release to workers every six months. At least 309 employees have received P200,000 each as of last week.

The remaining P450 million, according to Primestate, will be paid through the construction of a six-storey-corporate building, two live studios and a commercial building for IBC to be situated in the 5,000-square-meter property in Broadcast City.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of January 26, 2012)

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