MANILA, Philippines – The defense team of Supreme Court Justice Renato Corona wants the Senate impeachment court to deny for lack of merit the prosecution’s request for Supreme Court records in relation to Article 7.
This is among the contentious issues that the Senate impeachment court is expected to settle.
Article 7 of the Articles of Impeachment accuses Corona of betraying the public trust through partiality in his granting a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) on the travel ban that favored former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her husband, Jose Miguel Arroyo. The TRO gave them the opportunity to escape prosecution and frustrate the ends of justice.
Their opposition focused on 4 main reasons:
- It is a violation of the constitutional principle of separation of powers
- The subpoena is improper, considering that the charge under Article 7 of the complaint is premature
- The SC exercises sole jurisdiction over the consolidated petitions filed by the Arroyos, and excludes even the impeachment court
- The documents being subpoenaed should be disallowed because they show the intent of the prosecution to go on a fishing expedition
Implicit in the principle of separation of powers, the motion said, is the privilege of each of the 3 branches of government (legislative, executive and judicial) against disclosure of the decision-making processes. This is needed to preserve the confidentiality of communications, especially since this is crucial to free people involved in the decision-making process from fear of “voicing unpopular proposals,” which could consequently “risk the implementation of unsound public policies.” (See defense motion below)
The motion said that the Supreme Court enjoys “judicial privilege” which facilitates the open exchange of ideas among members of the Court. It is this privilege which assures the integrity of High Court decisions. The prosecution’s request to produce SC records which could invite inquiry into the Court’s decision-making process “violates judicial process and should be denied,” the motion said.
The defense also cited internal rules of the SC which highlight the confidentiality of Court sessions. “Court deliberations are confidential and shall not be disclosed to outside parties except as may be provided…or as authorized by the Court.”
The High Court’s own authority to issue subpoena duces tecum is restricted if it will be tantamount to “unwarranted invasion of the prerogative of a co-equal department” to act in accordance with its own rules.
In the past, the SC had refused to interfere in the internal affairs of the Senate that involved senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Teofisto Guingona Jr in 1998 who sought redress in the High Court. “This Court will be neither a tyrant nor a wimp; rather, it will remain steadfast and judicious in upholding the rule and majesty of the law.”
The defense also argued that the subpoena is improper, considering that the charge under Article 7 of the complaint is premature. The consolidated cases that prompted the filing of a TRO that allegedly favored former President Arroyo have yet to be decided upon by the Court itself.
Likewise, the SC exercises sole jurisdiction over the consolidated petitions filed by the Arroyos, and excludes even the impeachment court, the defense said.
Finally, the documents being subpoenaed are “immaterial, impertinent, and irrelevant” and as such, should be disallowed as it “clearly shows the intent of the prosecution to go on a fishing expedition.” For filing various memoranda and motions, the defense has received flak for allegedly delaying the impeachment trial. – Rappler.com