'Dear Justice Sereno, please testify March 1'
MANILA, Philippines - The prosecution sent Supreme Court Justice Lourdes Sereno a formal invitation on Tuesday, February 28, asking her to testify in the impeachment trial against her fellow member in the High Tribunal, Chief Justice Renato Corona.
The prosecution wants the SC justice to appear before the impeachment court on Thursday, March 1.
Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares, a member of the prosecution panel, said in the invitation that Sereno's testimony will help the impeachment court reach a conclusion on the charge that Corona showed partiality toward his former superior, ex-President Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo.
The prosecution, in its invitation, vowed that the panel will "strive" to do its best to protect the lady magistrate's rights and dignity during the trial.
Sereno wrote in her dissenting opinion dated Dec.13, 2011 that Corona distorted a resolution in favor of Arroyo, who appointed him to the SC in 2002. It was also Arroyo who named Corona chief justice in 2010.
Sereno said that the resolution on Nov. 18, 2011 did not reflect what transpired in their en banc deliberation on the same day.
Sereno said the justices voted 7-6 (Associate Justices Roberto Abad, Martin Villarama, Jose Mendoza,Sereno, Bienvenido Reyes, Antonio Carpio, Estela Bernabe composed the majority) that the temporary restraining order issued in favor of Arroyo on Nov. 15, 2011 was deemed suspended, following her failure to meet one of the conditions attached to the TRO.
The TRO issued on Nov.15, 2011 stopped Justice Secretary Leila de Lima from implementing the watchlist order issued against Arroyo and her husband, lawyer Jose Miguel. De Lima had barred the Arroyo couple from leaving the country because they were under preliminary investigation for their alleged involvement in reported cheating in the 2007 senatorial polls.
The TRO, however, had conditions: the Arroyos were directed to post a P2-M bond, assign a legal representative, and report to the Philippine consulate in the countries they went to. The SC, on Nov. 18, 2011, noted however that the special power of attorney submitted by the Arroyo camp to the SC did not specify that her legal representative would "receive" documents for the now incumbent Pampanga representative.
In another vote of 7-6, (Corona, Justices Presbitero Velasco, Arturo Brion, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Roberto Abad and Jose Perez were the 7) however, the SC said there is no need to categorically state the suspension of the resolution, as it is already implied. Sereno said, however that the resolutions dated November 18 and November 22 (which was supposed to clarify the Nov.18 resolution) did not include this.
De Lima read Sereno's dissenting opinion when she testified before the impeachment court on February 23, but the defense said her testimony is hearsay because she did not take part in the en banc deliberations.
Sereno was earlier asked to be subpoenaed by the impeachment court, but the SC, in a resolution dated February 14, barred justices and employees from testifying in the court in the name of judicial privilege. The Senate has also denied the prosecution's request.
The impeachment court also said it will not invite Sereno, saying the prosecution should do it.
Bayan Muna partylist member Cristina Yambot said they have also drafted a motion for reconsideration questioning the February 14 resolution, but the prosecution has yet to decide if they will file it at the SC or not. - Rappler.com