MANILA, Philippines – The Senate impeachment court on Wednesday, February 8, denied the prosecution panel’s request to subpoena 4 Supreme Court (SC) Justices.
The prosecution panel wanted the testimonies of Associate Justices Martin Villarama, Maria Lourdes Sereno, Bienvenido Reyes and Presbitero Velasco Jr.. They are supposed to testify for Articles 3 and 7 of the impeachment complaint, which tackle some allegedly questionable decisions issued by the High Tribunal.
“Malungkot ang decision. Kailangang-kailangan namin ang testimony ng Justices sa pag-prosecute. Hampered kami ngayon,” said prosecutor Neri Colmenares of Bayan Muna partylist. (It’s a sad decision. We really need the testimony of the Justices. This decision will hamper us [from pursuing our case].)
Colmenares said they will file a motion for reconsideration. He noted that Supreme Court Justices appear before Congress when their budgets are deliberated.
He insisted that the Senate, when it is acting as an impeachment court, is not a co-equal body of the Supreme Court. The two institutions are only equal when the Senate is performing its legislative functions, he said.
Colmenares is assigned to Article 7, which reads: Respondent betrayed the public trust through his partiality in granting a temporary restraining order (TRO) in favor of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her husband Jose Miguel Arroyo in order to give them an opportunity to escape prosecution and to frustrate the ends of justice, and in distorting the Supreme Court decision on the effectivity of the TRO in view of a clear failure to comply with the conditions of the Supreme Court’s own TRO.
Colmenares said it’s the SC Justices who could best explain how the Supreme Court came out with that decision.
Colmenares also appealed to the SC Justices to volunteer to testify. The Senate resolution, he said, allows that.
While it will be difficult, Colmenares said Article 7 will stand even without the testimonies of the SC Justices. He said they can present, among others, the rulings of the SC Justices detailing what transpired before they came out with the decision.
Despite the unfavorable ruling, Colmenares said Day 14 has been a good day for the prosecution.
“Malakas ang ebidensya sa Article 2 kanina. The bank accounts were disclosed [during the trial]. He did not disclose those in his SALN. He had a total of P19-million in 2 bank accounts alone,” Colmenares said.
“Let’s see how the Chief Justice can explain that,” he added. – Rappler.com