(UPDATE 2) No, he won't endure a day full of Senator Miriam Santiago's speech.
This, as the impeachment court on Tuesday opted not to impose penalty on private prosecutor Vitaliano Aguirre who was cited in contempt for “disrespect” of the court.
“In view of the unusual circumstances surrounding the incident, the impeachment court, although there is evidence of an act that may be considered contemptuous of the court, will not impose a penalty on Atty. Aguirre,” Senate Juan Ponce Enrile said.
Enrile said the court will simply admonish Aguirre to be more careful with his conduct as a member of prosecution panel.
The private prosecutor was cited for contempt last week by the impeachment court when he covered his ears while Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago was lecturing the prosecution team.
Enrile noted that Santiago was not present during the caucus, and that the ruling was decided by a consensus of the senator-judges.
“It will be better not to impose penalty in order not to create further friction in the course of the trial as well as to quiet the issue already,” he explained.
The prosecution team, however, already filed a letter on Monday stating Aguirre’s withdrawal of appearance as senior private prosecutor for Chief Justice Renato Corona’s impeachment trial.
Though she was not present during the ruling, Santiago said she agrees with the decision of the impeachment court not to impose penalty on Aguirre.
“Justice has been done, and honor has been satisfied. We want to preserve the dignity of the court. We want to correct misbehavior. It is not punitive or vindictive. So that is the correct penalty,” Santiago told reporters after the caucus.
She added that she agrees with the penalty since Aguirre has already shown “the proper spirit of contrition.”
Santiago, however, derided the protest conducted by Aguirre’s supporters outside the Senate on Tuesday morning.
“I must say that I was underwhelmed. I was elected by millions of Filipinos. I am not likely impressed by about 50 people,” she said.
Family and friends of Atty. Vitaliano Aguirre meanwhile gathered outside the Senate to show support for the private prosecutor whom they consider as their "hero."
Some 40 members of the group called “Mulanay Light Bringers Club,” who mostly came from Aguirre’s hometown in Quezon, showed up at the Senate hours before the senator-judges would decide on his penalty.
The private prosecutor was cited for contempt last week by the impeachment court when he covered his ears while Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago was lecturing to the prosecution team.
The protesters were wearing shirts printed with Aguirre’s face and his infamous gesture of covering his ears. Below the image was a phrase “Igalang ang dignidad ng tao” while at the back of the shirts was “Atty. Vitaliano Aguirre, My hero.”
They also had tarpaulins bearing the words “Suporta at pakikiisa kay Atty. Vitaliano Aguirre. Bigyan ng respeto ang dignidad ng tao.”
Aguirre’s younger sister, Naomi Aguirre-Garland, defended his brother, saying that what he did was right.
The private prosecutor’s son, Atty. Andrew, added that his father covered his ears “to protect himself from verbal abuse.”
The two also expressed their disappointment over Santiago. Andrew said he believes that the feisty senator-judge “violated judicial ethics.”
“Yung mga sigaw-sigaw niya hindi na tama kasi pare-pareho naman silang mga lawyer. Para silang bata (prosecutors) kung pagsalitaan nya,” Garland said of Santiago.
Aguirre’s supporters said they were willing to spend a night outside the Senate should the senators decide to detain him.
Meanwhile, the prosecution team on Monday filed a letter to the court on Aguirre’s withdrawal of appearance as senior private prosecutor for Chief Justice Renato Corona’s impeachment trial.
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile earlier said that he agrees with Aguirre’s resignation, saying that the private prosecutor already proven himself as “ineffective.”