Defense seeks subpoenas vs House members anew

MANILA — Lawyers for Chief Justice Renato Corona will again ask the impeachment court to summon members of the House of Representatives as it raised once more its contention that the impeachment complaint against their client is invalid.
The defense earlier asked the Senate, sitting as an impeachment court, to summon the members of the House on a motion for a preliminary hearing. But the Senate junked the motion.
Defense lawyer Tranquil Salvador III said, however, that their argument that the complaint was improperly verified is still valid.
The defense had asked for a preliminary hearing, saying the impeachment complaint was invalid because there had been no attempt to determine probable cause, and because not all of the 188 members of the House who signed it were able to read and study the complaint before signing.
In its second time to ask impeachment court, House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and two members of the prosecution team are among those who will be summoned.
In a copy of the defense’s list of witnesses and documents, Belmonte and Iloilo Representative Niel Tupas Jr. are included as witnesses for the defense’s preliminary objection.
The defense plans to ask them to testify regarding the circumstances and events that transpired on December 12, 2011, which led to the impeachment of Chief Justice Corona.
Cavite Representative Jesus Crispin Remulla, Batangas Representative Hermilando Mandanas and Navotas Representative Tobias Tiangco are also on the list of defense’s witnesses.
The defense also said a significant number of unnamed signatories on the impeachment complaint will also be called.
Remulla, Mandanas and Tiangco did not sign the impeachment complaint, saying there had been no time to study it at a majority caucus before the complaint was signed.
House Secretary-General Marilyn Barua-Yap is also listed as a witness and she will be asked to testify on her personal knowledge of how the complaint was verified.
House records for December 12 to 14, 2011 will also be used as evidence. Tupas will be called to testify on Article I, or Corona’s alleged subservience to Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo “in cases involving the Arroyo administration.”
The defense said Tupas, because of his adversity to Corona, “intentionally omitted” portions of Supreme Court decisions and acts of Congress “that exculpate CJ Corona.”
On Article II, which alleges Corona’s non-disclosure of his net worth, and which the prosecution is currently presenting evidence for, the defense plans to call Supreme Court clerk Enriqueta Vidal to testify that Corona complied with disclosure requirements.
Vidal has already been called by the prosecution and was made to submit Corona’s asset declarations to the court.
Secretaries of the House and Senate Electoral Tribunals will also be asked to testify that Corona received allowances as a member of the tribunals.
The Supreme Court Fiscal Management and Budget Office is also expected to certify a list of “salaries, allowances, and emoluments” that Corona received because of his position.
Tupas and Marikina Representative Romero Quimbo, spokesman for the prosecution, will also be asked to testify on a list of 45 properties allegedly registered under Corona and his family that the prosecution earlier submitted to the Senate.
The list was submitted to Tupas by the Land Registration Authority but the defense said it included cancelled titles, titles for property already sold and titles for parking lots.
Also in the list are Justices Presbitero Velasco, Roberto Abad, and Arturo Brion who will be asked to testify on Article VII, which accuses Corona of betrayal of public trust when the Supreme Court issued an injunction against a Justice department order barring former President Arroyo from leaving the country.
The defense earlier scored prosecutors for planning to summon Supreme Court justices.
Constitutional law expert Fr. Joaquin Bernas is also on the list.
“His testimony is on the substantial issue of the (Watch List Order) being subject to judicial review for which the assailed (Temporary Restraining Order) was issued in consonance with the Constitutional guarantee of liberty to travel,” the defense said.
Meanwhile, Ako Bicol party-list Representative Rodel Batocabe, who signed the impeachment complaint against Corona, said the defense panel should refrain from diverting the issue and prevent from throwing accusations at congressmen-prosecutors.
“We are asking them (defense) not to bring down the level of arguments because we (congressmen) are used to this. We face accusations like these every election season,” Batocabe said in a press briefing organized by the 188 signatories to the impeachment complaint dubbed the “Movement 188”.
The said Corona’s defense team is resorting “squid tactics” in firing “made up stink bombs” at the prosecutors and their spokespersons from the House of Representatives.
They said the defense is doing this in a desperate bid to “muddle up the trial” and divert national attention away from testimonies and evidence submitted so far that support Article II – Corona’s non-disclosure of statements of assets, liabilities and net worth. (Jonathan de Santos/Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)

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How to get to this fine-dining restaurant in Clark Pampanga? Once you get to Clark Freeport, go straight until you hit Mimosa. After you enter Mimosa, stay on the left on Mimosa Drive, go past the Holiday Inn and Yats Restaurant (green top, independent 1-storey structure) is on your left. Just past the Yats Restaurant is the London Pub.

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