MANILA, Philippines – Chief Justice Renato Corona has reiterated his call for the Supreme Court to stop the impeachment trial against him, saying his right to due process has been violated by the partiiality of some senator-judges.
In a supplemental petition filed on Monday, February 13, Corona said these senator-judges have acted as his “accuser, prosecutor, judge and executioner,” and, like the prosecution, he said, have been on a “fishing expedition.”
In his petition, Corona cited the following instances in the impeachment trial where Senators Franklin Drilon, Francis Pangilinan, Teofisto Guingona III, Alan Peter Cayetano, Ralph Recto, and Sergio Osmeña III have purportedly aided the prosecution:
a. Drilon asked Supreme Court Clerk of Court Enriqueta Vidal to submit the chief magistrate’s Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth to the impeachment court on January 18 “to remedy the ineptness of the prosecution from obtaining relevant evidence;”
b. Drilon inquired from the Register of Deeds of Taguig on January 19 if Corona’s name appeared as “attorney-in-fact” in the Deed of Sale for a Mckinley Hills lot said to be owned by Corona’s daughter, Charina;
c. Recto asked Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares about the taxes paid by Corona from 2002-2010 after private prosecutor Arthur Lim had a hard time getting the same information;
d.Osmeña and Pangilinan continued with the “direct examination” of Megaworld marketing executive Noli Hernandez on January 31, saying the unit purchased by Corona at a discount of 40% was not semi-bare and suffered only minimal damage following a typhoon. Hernandez testified that Megaworld lowered the price of its condominium unit from P24-M to P19.6-M because the unit suffered from water leakage after a typhoon in 2008;
e. Guingona and Pangilinan argued that the SC is not more superior than the impeachment court, after Corona sought a temporary restraining order from the SC on Feb. 7 to stop the impeachment proceedings; and
f. Osmeña, Drilon and Pangilinan asked BPI and PSBank – where Corona has bank accounts – to submit documents other than those specified in the subpoena.
Except for Cayetano, the senator-judges mentioned by Corona campaigned for President Benigno Aquino III in the 2010 presidential race. Cayetano then supported Aquino’s chief rival, Sen. Manuel Villar.
Corona also pointed out in his supplementary petition that Rep. Niel Tupas, the lead prosecutor, is Drilon’s godson. Corona’s lawyers earlier moved for Drilon’s inhibition, but the senator has refused to do so.
The chief magistrate said that the 5 senator-judges have asked questions benefiting the prosecution when they should only be asking clarificatory questions. He added that his counsels could not stop this because they are barred from objecting to the queries of the senator-judges.
Because of these, Corona said his right to due process has been violated.
Thus, the SC should stop the impeachment trial. “…The refusal of an openly partial and biased judge is a violation of the Constitution,” he said in his supplementary petition.
He also said that the conduct of the senator-judges allied with Aquino has cast a cloud of doubt on the integrity of the impeachment trial.
The SC has yet to rule on Corona’s petition to declare the impeachment trial null and void. It instead asked the Senate and the House of Representatives last February 9 to submit their respective comments within 10 days. – Rappler.com