The House prosecution team will ask the Supreme Court to reconsider its ruling rejecting the panel’s request for access on confidential court records supposedly to be used as evidence in the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona.
Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares, one of the prosecutors, said the panel will appeal the decision since it is an “attack on the constitutional power of the impeachment court” and a violation of due process rights of the complainants’ access to the courts.
“It is absurd because it prohibits the disclosure of anything ‘pre-decisional.’
This means all evidence, including mere administrative matters, in a case that has not yet been ‘decided’ is confidential and therefore, cannot be accessed by anyone including the impeachment court,” he said in a statement.
He added the prosecution will particularly question the SC’s decision to bar its personnel, such as clerk of court Enriqueta Vidal, from testifying on administrative matters.
Last February 14, the SC came out with a resolution prohibiting the release of confidential court records to the prosecution team.
Corona, who heads the SC, is currently being tried in the Senate for betrayal of public trust, culpable violation of the Constitution and graft and corruption.
Sereno Colmenares likewise said that the panel will also challenge the high court’s views on judicial privilege, which prohibits justices from revealing details on SC deliberations.
The prosecution asked the Senate impeachment court last week to invite Associate Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno to Corona’s trial to shed light on how the high court issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the implementation of a watch list order on former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo last November.
“Mano ba namang hayaan nila siyang [Sereno] tanungin ng dalawang tanong lang: nandoon ka ba noong deliberasyon noong Nov. 15 at yung sinabi mo ba sa dissent mo ay totoo sa iyong personal knowledge? Tapos na,” the lawmaker said.
The Senate earlier junked the prosecution’s plea to summon SC justices to the impeachment trial.
But even before the Senate impeachment court can decide whether or not to invite Sereno, the defense camp already plans to block the magistrate’s testimony in Corona’s trial.
Defense spokesperson Tranquil Salvador III said that while Sereno can voluntarily appear before the impeachment court, she is not allowed to talk about what took place during the SC deliberations on Mrs. Arroyo’s TRO.
“[Even] if she as a witness submits to the court voluntarily, we doubt whether she can testify or be subject to written interrogatories on matters covered by judicial privilege since only the SC as an institution can waive it,” he said.
Lawyer Ramon Esguerra, another member of the defense counsel, said Sereno’s appearance in the trial may expose her and the SC to “certain risks,” since the high court’s internal rules prohibits the disclosure of how the SC came up with its rulings. - KBK