Tuesday, January 17, 2012

News Update Defense blocks move to subpoena Corona, family

The camp of Chief Justice Renato Corona is asking the Senate, sitting as the impeachment court, to deny the motion of the House prosecutors to subpoena the head of the Supreme Court and several of his family members. Last week, the prosecution asked the Senate to subpoena Corona, his wife Cristina, children Francis, Charina, Carla Corona-Castillo and son-in-law Constantino Castillo III to attend and testify during the impeachment trial. Marikina Rep. Romero Quimbo, one of the prosecution team’s spokespersons, earlier said the panel wants the chief justice and his relatives summoned by the impeachment court to shed light on their alleged 45 properties in Metro Manila. Corona has since denied owning the alleged 45 properties, claiming ownership on only five of them. The prosecution likewise asked the Senate to subpoena all the transfer certificates of title (TCT) and condominium certificates of title (CCT) and "all documents pertinent to the acquisition, disposition, ownership, possession or enjoyrment of the properties covered by the TCTs and CCTs" of 45 properties, some of which were named after some of the chief justice's family members. But in an eight-page motion filed late Monday, Corona's legal counsel Jose Roy III said the impeachment court should deny the subpoena request becauseit failed to state any specific purpose for the required testimony and production of the said documents. "The failure to show any relevance or materiality of the evidence sought to be adduced can only mean that the request for the issuance of subpoena is malicious and unwarranted," he said. He likewise cited Article III of the 1987 of the Philippine Constitution guarantees the right of an individual against self-incrimination, which prevents a person from being compelled to be a witness against himself. "In as much as Chief Justice Corona is being tried before the impeachment court, the issuance of a subpoena duces tecum and testificandum against him amounts to a compulsion to provide evidence which will be used against him in the impeachment trial proceedings," said Roy. He likewise cited Sections 22 and 24 of Rule 30 of the Rules of Court. Section 22 states "During their marriage, neither the husband nor the wife may testify for or against the other without the consent of the affected spouse, except in a civil case by one against the other, or in a criminal case for a crime committed by one against the other or the latter's direct descendants or ascendants." On the other hand, Section 24 states: "The husband or the wife, during or after the marriage, cannot be examined without the consent of the other as to any communication received in confidence by one from the other during the marriage except in a civil case by one against the other, or in a criminal case for a crime committed by one against the other or the latter's direct descendants or ascendants." "Mrs. Cristina Corona may not be compelled to testify against Chief Justice Corona, except with his consent. The House of Representatives violates not only the Rules of Court, but the Rules of Procedure in Impeachment trials," he said. "Clearly, the sanctity of the marital bond between Chief Justice and Mrs. Corona, takes precendence in law over claims of prosecutorial prerogatives," he added. On the other hand, Roy said Corona's children are "over the age of majority and therefore possess full legal capacity to own and possess property in their own right." "Their acquisition of property is right personal to them and is not legally premised on legal right derived from CJ Corona. More importantly, there is no allegation that any of the properties in their names truly belong to other persons, much less CJ Corona," he said. Meanwhile, Roy said Constantino Castillo should not be subject of the subpoena "for being irrelevant and immaterial" since there is no allegation that any of Corona's son-in-law's propertes are related to the charges against the chief justice. "It is sad to think that the alleged quest for truth and accountability being pursued by the House of Representatives amounts to nothing more than a brutal assault on the unity of the Corona family. Their dogged determination to remove CJ Corona from office has not spared even his innocent loved ones. CJ Corona implores the impeachment court to come to his aid and render its protection to his family by denying request for the issuance of subpoena," he added. — RSJ,