Corona lawyers: Heed TRO on dollar deposits

Ayee Macaraig
Even without an actual order, defense lawyers say the impeachment court should follow the TRO on the dollar accounts of the Chief Justice

MANILA, Philippines – Don’t pretend there is no TRO.

Lawyers of Chief Justice Renato Corona asked the Senate to heed the temporary restraining order of the Supreme Court on their client’s dollar accounts even if the order has yet to be served.

The defense team filed a motion to defer the examination of foreign-denominated bank accounts of Corona on Monday, February 13.

“To proceed and pretend that the injunction issued by the Supreme Court does not yet have any effect on the impeachment proceedings is tantamount to defiance of the Supreme Court and denial of justice to CJ Corona,” wrote the defense counsels.

Judicial notice

In a vote of 8-5, the Supreme Court issued on Thursday, a TRO on the subpoena of Corona’s dollar accounts, granting the petition of the Philippine Savings Bank (PSBank). Last week, PSBank President Pascual Garcia III confirmed that Corona has 5 dollar accounts with the bank’s Katipunan branch.

The defense team said the examination of Corona’s dollar accounts and testimony in relation to these should be deferred after Supreme Court Spokesperson Midas Marquez announced the issuance of a TRO.

Yet on Sunday night, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said mere announcement of the TRO does not amount to judicial notice. Defense counsels think otherwise.

“To receive testimony of witnesses and allow the production or examination of documents and records of the accounts subverts the very thing that the TRO seeks to accomplish,” said Corona’s lawyers.

They added, “No lengthy debate is required to comprehend that once permitted, the public damage to CJ Corona and his family is instant and irreparable.”

On Sunday, the defense team accused Malacañang of pressuring and offering to bribe the senator-judges to defy the TRO. The Senate will discuss how to act on the TRO in a caucus today, Monday.

HEED TRO. Defense lawyers ask senator-judges to comply with the SC's temporary restraining order.

No more visit to BPI

In a separate manifestation also filed on Monday, the defense told the impeachment court that there is no more need to visit the Bank of the Philippine Islands Ayala Avenue branch to prepare for the cross-examination of its branch manager.

Last week, lead defense counsel Serafin Cuevas asked the Senate for permission to visit the bank but later retracted his request.

In the manifestation, the defense panel said, “After consulting with CJ Corona and reviewing his records of the said account, there is no longer any need to visit BPI Ayala Avenue Branch. Defense counsel is, however, prepared to continue the cross-examination of the witness.” 

But the prosecution panel said it is not abandoning the impeachment court’s earlier order to inspect Corona’s BPI records. “We will insist,” said Prosecutor Joseph Emilio Abaya. “That will allow the people to find out the contents of his account after giving his consent in open court. It seems they realize their blunder thus they are now trying to backtrack.”

BPI Ayala Avenue branch manager Leonora Dizon is expected to be cross-examined on Monday on the peso checking account of Corona. The impeachment court also summoned PSBank Katipunan branch manager Annabelle Tiongson to testify. –

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