[3rd UPDATE] MANILA, Philippines – In what appears to be a declaration of war, the defense lawyers have filed an urgent petition with the Supreme Court, seeking a stop to impeachment proceedings involving Chief Justice Renato Corona and the nullification of the complaint filed against him.
The petition accused the impeachment court of grave abuse of discretion in issuing subpoena for bank accounts as requested by the prosecution. The court approved on Monday, February 6 the subpoena of officers of the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) and Philippine Savings Bank (PSBank) and to bring with them bank documents of Chief Justice Renato Corona.
The 39-page urgent petition for “certiorari and prohibition with prayer for immediate issuance of temporary restraining order (TRO) and writ of preliminary injunction” is meant to stop or enjoin, among others, the officers or representatives of the BPI and PSBank from testifying and submitting Corona’s bank documents to the impeachment court. (See copy of full petition below)
Rep Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara of the prosecution said that they had been furnished a copy of the petition filed before the Supreme Court Wednesday, February 8. Rappler earlier secured a copy of the petition which was received by the prosecution at 8:50 am.
In press briefing, defense lawyer Tranquil Salvador III said that they expect the High Court to receive a copy of the TRO request this afternoon. Supreme Court insiders confirmed however that the High Court has received the petition.
The urgent petition wants the High Court to issue a TRO to enjoin the following:
- proceedings before the impeachment court
- implementation of the court’s Feb 6, 2012 resolution
- officers and representatives of BPI and PSBank from testifying and submitting documents on petitioner’s or his family’s bank accounts
- the presentation, reception and admission of evidence on paragraphs 2.3 and 2.4 of the impeachment complaint
After issuing the TRO, the Supreme Court is being asked to render judgment declaring the impeachment complaint “null and void ab initio (from the beginning);” prohibiting the presentation, reception and admission of evidence on the same paragraphs of the impeachment complaint cited in the TRO petition; annulling the impeachment court’s resolution dated January 27 and February 6, and any subpoenae issued in relation to them; and making the TRO and/or writ of preliminary injunction permanent.
Corona’s urgent petition says that he has “suffered grave and irreparable injury” due to the continuing violation of his Constitutional rights. Unless a TRO is issued, the trial will continue and the banks and their representatives will “produce and disclose the confidential statements, documents and accounts” of the petitioner.
This will amount to “irreparable injury” from which Corona has “no appeal or other plain, speedy and adequate remedy.”
In their arguments, Corona’s lawyers said that:
- The impeachment complaint is “null and void” because it was transmitted without due notice and hearing to the Chief Justice
- The impeachment court “gravely abused its discretion” amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in retaining paragraph 2.3 of Article 2. (The latter refers to Corona’s properties allegedly not included in his Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth or SALNs. This is in violation of the Anti-graft and Corrupt Practices Act.)
- Paragraphs 2.3 and 2.4 of the impeachment complaint are based on “pure speculation and conclusions,” which cannot be considered ultimate facts to support a complaint. (Paragraph 2.4 refers to Corona’s alleged ill-gotten wealth, acquiring assets of high value and keeping bank deposits with huge deposits.)
- The presentation of evidence on charges of alleged corruption and unexplained wealth violates Corona’s right to due process.
- The impeachment court committed “grave abuse of discretion” amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in issuing the subpoena for all bank accounts, as requested by the prosecution.
Citing the need to protect the rights of the individual, the petition said that “whenever the rights of an individual are threatened, they take precedence over the rights of the State or of the many; this is why the Constitution of the Bill of Rights are guarantees to the individual.”
Sadly, the petition said, there seems “almost no reason to expect that the outcome of the proceedings will be fair or just.” -Rappler.com