Miriam questions order to release Corona bank records

Ayee Macaraig

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Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago is filing a motion for reconsideration on the Senate decision to summon bank records of Chief Justice Renato Corona.

MANILA, Philippines – The debate over the subpoena for Chief Justice Renato Corona’s bank records is not yet over, with Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago questioning a Senate decision ordering the records’ release.

Because of high blood pressure, Santiago was absent when the impeachment court decided on Monday to grant the prosecution’s request to summon Corona’s bank records, including his alleged dollar account. Yet in a statement on Tuesday, Santiago questioned the decision.

Santiago cited three grounds for her appeal:

1)    The subpoena will violate the Senate’s ruling disallowing evidence on ill-gotten wealth or paragraph 2.4 of the impeachment complaint.

“Since 2.4 is the only paragraph that specifically mentions ‘bank deposits,’ any requests for subpoena concerning any bank deposits should be rejected,” she said.

2)    The subpoena appears to be a direct violation of the Foreign Currency Deposit Act of the Philippines.

“The Supreme Court ruled in Intengan v. Court of Appeals (2002), that this law is violated if a foreign currency deposit is examined, except only when the depositor gives written permission. This is the only exception, and it is not present in this case.”

3)    The cases cited by the prosecution, 1997 case of Salvacion, 2000 case of China Banking Corp., and 2006 case of Ejercito, appear to be “off-tangent.”

Santiago said the motion for reconsideration should be debated verbally in open court, and then by written memoranda by counsel for each panel.

The former trial court judge said she is only giving the defense a second chance to argue against the bank subpoenas, and her appeal will not prejudice her final vote.

“Counsels can file motion for reconsideration”

In her statement, Santiago also disagreed with the view of Sen. Francis Escudero that only senator-judges can file a motion for reconsideration on decisions of the impeachment court.

On Monday, Lead Defense Counsel Serafin Cuevas issued a verbal motion for reconsideration but Escudero said the rules do not allow this.

Santiago believes an appeal can be filed even only by counsels.

“There is no such requirement in the Impeachment Rules. Perhaps what he referred to was the Senate Rules, which can apply as a supplemental reference, but only if it is relevant to the impeachment,” she said.

She added that the Senate Rules on a motion for reconsideration filed by a senator refers only to the lawmaking function, and not to the impeachment function.

Santiago has been absent from the impeachment trial because of hypertension. The senator, however, has voiced her thoughts on the proceedings through media statements. – Rappler.com


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