Should senators ‘invite’ SC justice?

Rappler.com
The impeachment court will be holding a caucus on Monday to decide on the issue
MANILA, Philippines – Senator-judges in the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona will discuss behind closed doors on Monday, February 27, proposals to invite Supreme Court Associate Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno to the impeachment trial or send her written questions.
 
Prosecutors want Sereno to elaborate on the alleged irregularities in Supreme Court deliberations that led to the issuance of a temporary restraining order allowing former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to go abroad. Sereno revealed these so-called irregularities in her dissenting opinion.
 
In one of her 2 dissenting opinions, Sereno said the SC’s second resolution reiterating the TRO did not reflect the actual voting – that majority of the justices voted to suspend the order because one of its conditions was not met. She alleged that because of Corona’s maneuvering, the High Court eventually sustained the TRO.
 
But the government defied both the TRO and the second resolution sustaining it.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima quoted extensively from Sereno’s opinion when she testified in the trial last week.

Written questions
 
On February 23, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV asked the impeachment court to send written interrogatories to Sereno.
 
The following day, February 24, the prosecution filed a motion asking the impeachment court to “invite” Sereno to testify at the trial.
 
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said he will study this carefully and wants a thorough discussion on it during Monday’s caucus.

The SC has barred justices and employees from testifying at the Corona trial, invoking judicial privilege. While it ruled that the ultimate decision lies with each justice, it said the latter should still seek the permission of the Court should he or she decide to voluntarily testify for or against Corona.

The impeachment court has also ruled that it will not compel SC justices to testify, but that they may do so voluntarily. 

Even the legal community is divided on the matter, with some lawyers insisting that the justices should keep SC confidentiality and skip the trial. Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago also cautioned against inviting Sereno, saying this could set a dangerous precedent. What would stop the defense from inviting the other justices as well, she said in an Inquirer interview

Corona is accused of betraying public trust and showing partiality to Arroyo by issuing the TRO on a travel ban against her. His camp had argued that the decision was collegial. – Rappler.com

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