Archive for February 9th, 2012

Day 14- The Chief Justice Trial

Yesterday, I think,  was the most interesting day of CJ Corona’s trial. Something is slowly unraveling and you don’t have to be a seasoned or a high-caliber lawyer to understand what is going on.

Points to Ponder:

  • Corona’s defense lawyers files  a petition before the Supreme Court to stop Impeachment Trial and a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) on bank summons.
  • Corona asks  to defer action on bank summons.
  • Corona files motion seeking inhibition of  Justice Carpio (the most senior member of the Supreme Court) and Justice Sereno, Pres. PNoy’s appointee to the SC.
  • Corona seeks special raffle of his petition at the Supreme Court (in which he is the incumbent Chief Justice)

Sen. Santiago said earlier that the courts have no jurisdiction over the impeachment process. Sen. Guingona said that the Supreme Court cannot and should not impose its will on the Impeachment Court. They are only co-equal when they are exercising legislation. The presiding Senator-Judge Enrile emphasized that they are not partisans nor combatants.  He said further that the Impeachment Court is a court of law. They acted on Sen. Santiago’s motion for reconsideration regarding the  issuing of subpoena to bank personnel where Corona maintains accounts. Majority of the senator-judges resolved  not to approve the motion for reconsideration and the Impeachment court stood by its ruling granting subpoena for Corona’s bank records.  They went into caucus a few minutes after the opening of the trial to tackle on Corona’s petition on subpoena for bank records.  They denied the motion to defer action on the bank subpoenas. And here’s the interesting part. Enrile said that  in absence of TRO from SC, the trial will proceed.

The Impeachment Court sent a subpoena to the Bank Manager of PS Bank-Katipunan Branch, surprisingly though, it was the Bank president, Pascual Garcia III who appeared before the IC with his legal counsel. Prosecution will prove before the Impeachment body that Corona have ten bank accounts with PS Bank.  Garcia manifested that he owes it to their depositors and subordinates to appear before the Impeachment Court, in short as part of command responsibility, he took the cudgels  to protect his employees, in this case, the Bank Manager of one of their branches to appear before the IC. He however emphasized that he only brought the documents for the five peso deposit accounts. They asked him why there was only one opening document for the accounts that Corona maintains at the bank.  Even in other banks, this would suffice since normally, an opening document ask the same information regardless of how many accounts you have.  This is a standard procedure for most banks.  Garcia said that he brought bank certificates containing details and ending balance of the five peso accounts maintained by Corona at their bank and it turned out that there is roughly about P24.0 plus outstanding as of December 2010.

Corona’s $ Accounts Maintained with PSBank

The Prosecutors asked why Garcia did not bring the documents for the five remaining foreign currency deposit accounts  of Corona and he invoked RA 6426. He is not allowed to disclose them for fear of facing criminal liability. Here is a portion of RA 6426 which is An Act Instituting A Foreign Currency Deposit System in the Philippines.

Section 8. Secrecy of foreign currency deposits. – All foreign currency deposits authorized under this Act, as amended by PD No. 1035, as well as foreign currency deposits authorized under PD No. 1034, are hereby declared as and considered of an absolutely confidential nature and, except upon the written permission of the depositor, in no instance shall foreign currency deposits be examined, inquired or looked into by any person, government official, bureau or office whether judicial or administrative or legislative, or any other entity whether public or private; Provided, however, That said foreign currency deposits shall be exempt from attachment, garnishment, or any other order or process of any court, legislative body, government agency or any administrative body whatsoever. (As amended by PD No. 1035, and further amended by PD No. 1246, prom. Nov. 21, 1977.)

Sen. Drilon said that Garcia faces contempt of court while Sen. Arroyo argued that they should grant some consideration to the witness. He is not acting in bad faith because he is just protecting the bank.  My question is, which should be followed, the law on foreign currency deposits or the command of the Impeachment Court to divulge Corona’s dollar accounts? The Senator-Judges had a deliberation on this and asked Garcia to submit a letter to the IC explaining the reason why he should not be cited in contempt.

From the start of the trial, Defense lawyers said that Corona is not guilty of all the charges and he is willing to prove that he has nothing to hide. Why, all of a sudden, in the middle of the trial will he ask to defer action on the bank summons?  And why would he seek motion that Carpio, (a more senior member of the Supreme Court who they said should have been the Chief Justice instead of the former) and Sereno, an appointee of Pres. PNoy should inhibit from such proceedings? He is the accused here and the Supreme Court is his turf, is it legal for him to stop the Impeachment Trial? Why is he crying wolf now, he should have done that at the start of the Impeachment proceedings. The Filipino people deserve to know the truth.

You don’t need to be a lawyer to understand how it is going. For the man on the street, the logical solution would be, “kung wala ng tiwala ang tao sa iyo, di ba dapat umalis ka na?” Then we could have avoided all these problems arising from the Impeachment trial, then there would be no fear of constitutional crisis in our land.


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