#CoronaTrial: Day 14

KD Suarez

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Day 14: Senate caucus on bank subpoenas; Cross examination of FASAP president; PSBank president presents documents of Corona peso accounts; Discussion on bank secrecy, subpoenas for SC justices, documents

MANILA, Philippines – Here are the highlights of Day 14 of the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona.

Between 11 am – 1:30 pm: PSBank, defense file petitions with the Supreme Court to stop the impeachment proceedings and the release of bank documents.

12 noon: Senator-judges hold a caucus to discuss Senator-judge Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s petition regarding the subpoenas for the bank accounts of Chief Justice Corona.

Defense lawyers explain in a press conference their client’s move to petition the Supreme Court to stop the ongoing trial as well as the subpoena of bank records of the Chief Justice.

2:13 pm: Session starts. Roll call: 21 senator-judges present.

2:15 pm: Senator-judge TG Guingona manifests, and refers to the motions for temporary restraining orders (TROs) filed earlier in the day with the Supreme Court. He makes 3 points:
– The Senate, as an impeachment court, is an independent body
– The Supreme Court cannot and should not impose its will on the impeachment court. At this point, the two bodies are not co-equal
– Senate, as the impeachment court, has the sole power to decide on impeachment cases

2:20 pm: Senator-judge Pia Cayetano makes some clarifications in the official minutes of the court’s session last Tuesday, February 7. She says Senate, House prosecutors’ functions are different, contrary to what Prosecutor Rep Rodolfo Fariñas alluded to in the last session.

2:23 pm: Presiding officer, Senator-judge Juan Ponce Enrile, says the court has been lenient but they will apply the full power of the court to maintain order.

2:25 pm: Fariñas apologizes for what he said in the previous session. Senator-judge Ramon Revilla Jr reminds him to be careful with what he says in court.

2:30 pm: Senator-judge Vicente Sotto III reads resolution on Senator-judge Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s motion for reconsideration. Motion is denied. Sotto moves to go into caucus to resolve petitions for certiorari filed before the Supreme Court by the defense and PSBank. Senate agrees to go into caucus.

2:31 pm: Session suspended. Senator-judges go into caucus.

3:33 pm: Session resumes. Impeachment court denies motion to defer subpoena to BPI, PSBank. It also denies motion to defer the presentation of evidence on the FASAP case on Article 3 of the Articles of Impeachment.

3:35 pm: Cuevas cross examines FASAP president Roberto Anduiza.

3:52 pm: Cross examination ends. Senator-judge Loren Legarda asks questions to prosecution: they explain CJ Corona’s inhibition from the case, the letters sent by lawyer Estelito Mendoza, and his participation in the reversal of the SC ruling on FASAP.

Legarda asks: Are you blaming Corona? Bag-ao responds: Opo.

Senator-judge Alan Peter Cayetano also asks questions: Should other justices be liable if one justice is impeached based on one decision?

Senator-judges Koko Pimentel, Franklin Drilon also ask prosecution and Anduiza questions.

4:20 pm: Enrile also asks questions to prosecution.

4:25 pm: Court gives prosecution until Monday to submit a legal memorandum on the functions of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

4:30 pm: Anduiza is discharged. Prosecution proceeds to call next witness: PSBank official. Defense then objects to presentation of witnesses, raises Corona’s petition before SC.

Enrile allows bank officials’ testimony, tells Cuevas: We are mandated to try and decide this case. He also tells Cuevas, the defense is free to state objections, but they will allow the presentation of the witnesses.

Cuevas then says, they accept power of Senate to try case, but must be in accordance with laws.

Chief Prosecutor Rep Niel Tupas then says they will present witnesses for Article 2 again. Cuevas objects, says they thought they will discuss Article 3. Enrile rules to proceed with trial.

4:39 pm: Enrile rules: In the absence of a TRO from the SC, the trial will proceed. Prosecution proceeds to the presentation of witnesses.

4:41 pm: Session suspended for “a minute,” as court awaits witness.

4:57 pm: Session resumes. Witness is called: PSBank president Pascual Garcia III, in lieu of tjhe branch manager of the bank’s Katipunan office. He brought his own counsel, whom he can consult during the testimony. Private prosecutor Demetrio Custodio conducts direct examination.

Custodio says witness declined to pre-mark documents, and that it’s the first time in fact tha they would be talking to Garcia. They’re seeing the documents for the first time as well, says Custodio.

Custodio says the purpose of this testimony is to show Corona owns 10 accounts in the said bank.

5:04 pm: Garcia starts testimony. He is asked by Custodio if he brought all the documents subpoenaed but says he did not, explains he is in the court out of the bank’s respect for the impeachment court. He says he owes it to the bank which may be exposed to potential risk of liability.

Witness says he brought documents pertaining to 5 out of 10 accounts (only the peso accounts). He presents documents, and lawyers from both defense and prosecution crowd around Garcia. Enrile then admonishes the lawyers, telling them not to crowd witness.

Prosecution asks about details of each of the accounts he brought. He presents some documents related to the accounts.

6:09 pm: Custodio asks the impeachment court to enforce obedience from PSBank president to bring documents related to the other 5 accounts being subpoenaed. Garcia says the disclosure of the other accounts will expose the bank to criminal liability, because these are dollar accounts. He testifies that the law on foreign bank deposits requires absolute confidentiality. Without permission from the depositor, there is liability, he says. He also tells court they have asked for a TRO from the Supreme Court to protect the bank from having to disclose the documents.

Senator-judges Alan Peter Cayetano, Francis Pangilinan, and Pia Cayetano ask questions regarding the bank’s decision.

6:18 pm: Senator-judge Sergio Osmeña III asks prosecutor Custodio about the subpoena.

6:19 pm: Senator-judge Franklin Drilon manifests. He moves to require PSBank president to explain in writing why he should not be cited in contempt, and that he should come back Thursday in court with the documents.

6:21 pm: Senator-judge Joker Arroyo manifests. He says they should be guided by the precedence set by the impeachment trial of former president Joseph Estrada. He recalled that Senate did not sanction an official of Citibank who refused to disclose foreign currency accounts despite a court subpoena.

Sotto proposes that the Senate just wait for the explanation of PSBank. He says, they can then discuss the matter after that.

Senator-judge Ralph Recto says witness is representing a bank, and that it is difficult to cite him in contempt because it is an institutional decision. Garcia, meanwhile, says it was his personal position because it would expose him personally as well as the bank.

6:30 pm: Drilon, Enrile, and Arroyo debate the issue on requiring an explanation from the PSBank president. In the end, Enrile rules to have Garcia submit a written explanation – “not a show-cause order,” he clarifies – on why he should not be cited in contempt, and that the PSBank president come back on Thursday.

6:44 pm: Court tackles subpoenas for Supreme Court justices.

6:47 pm: Osmeña asks questions to PSBank president, and asks that the board of the bank be subpoenaed.

6:50 pm: Trial suspended.

6:54 pm: Trial resumes. Witness is discharged in the meantime, and will return on Thursday’s session.

Impeachment court’s clerk of court reads in full resolution on the prosecution’s request to subpoena SC justices. Senate impeachment court denies request, cites need for confidentiality of the High Court’s decisions. The resolution also invokes the separation of powers, saying they should respect internal rules of the Court.

Senator-judges Koko Pimentel, Guingona, Pangilinan, and A. Cayetano all manifest, say they concur with the resolution but will file separate concuring opinions after citing certain parts of the ruling.

An official of the Bank of Philippine Islands was supposed to testify but court decides to listen to her testimony on Thursday, February 9.

7:16 pm: Session is adjourned. Trial will resume on Thursday, February 9, at 2 pm. – Rappler.com

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