Prosecution will ‘invite’ Justice Sereno to testify

But prosecutors acknowledge that it may be a 'useless exercise'

MANILA, Philipines – After failing to convince the impeachment court to subpoena or invite Supreme Court (SC) Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno, the prosecutors are left without a choice but to make the invitation themselves.

“We will invite Justice Sereno. We will do that,” said prosecution spokesperson Romero “Miro” Quimbo. “Pag-uusapan kung papaano. Obviously, at this point in time, pakiusap na lang ang maari,” he added.

The prosecutors recognize that this is a long shot because of the February 14 SC ruling barring magistrates to testify. Even if willing, a justice needs to secure the approval of the SC en banc.

The new SC  ruling even “threatens the justices” against testifying before the Court, said Rep. Neri Colmenares, the prosecutor in charge of Article 7. “Kahit ikaw ay na-subpoena, hindi ka pwede pumunta kung hindi ka papayagan. Practically, wala ka na mahita,” he said.

“The only way that a member of the judiciary can come over is for the Senate to issue a subpoena. That will cover that individual from any repercussion emanating from that Feb 14 resolution of the Supreme Court,” said Quimbo.

“Alam na ho namin that it is a useless excercise,” added Quimbo.

It was totally unexpected, said Colmenares. “Hindi naming ine-expect na hindi isa-subpoena [si Justice Sereno] ng impeachment court,” said Colmenares.

Colmenares tried to debate with presiding officer Juan Ponce Enrile on the Senate ruling not to invite Sereno to avoid “clash” between the Senate and the Supreme Court. It was to no avail.

Colmenares argued that the impeachment court should assert its power. He also noted that it’s not that first time that the Senate defied the High Court. Colmenares recalled how the Senate sitting as an impeachment court forced SC Clerk of Court Enriquetta Vidal to submit Corona’s Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN) despite a Supreme Court resolution barring releases of the Justices’ SALNs.

Judicial privilege is not absolute added prosecution spokesperson Juan Edgardo Angara. He cited how the Senate during the time of President Arroyo defied the notorious Executive Order 464 that effectively banned executive officials from testifying before the Senate investigation of the national broadband deal controversy. –

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