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Impeachment Trial Rules OKd in Philippines

November 16, 2000|From Associated Press

MANILA — Philippine senators approved rules Wednesday for the impeachment trial of President Joseph Estrada, who faces allegations that he accepted millions of dollars in payoffs from illegal gambling operators.

The House of Representatives impeached Estrada on Monday, sending the charges to the Senate for trial, but the Senate had no procedures for such a trial since it had never received an impeachment complaint. In recent days, Senate staffers had quickly prepared draft rules patterned after those used during President Clinton's impeachment trial.

As Estrada flew to Brunei for a summit of Asia-Pacific leaders Wednesday, the Senate rules committee debated the trial provisions. The rules were later passed by the full, 22-member Senate.

Under the rules, senators will be allowed to question witnesses directly for two minutes each.

The rules committee agreed to authorize the presiding officer of the trial, the Supreme Court chief justice, to decide on the admissibility of evidence, with the option of employing a liberal interpretation of Philippine court rules on evidence, committee Chairman Francisco Tatad said.

Estrada's allies had sought a stricter standard, which would allow the rejection of certain types of evidence.

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