Miriam: Time for SC to review Corona impeach trial

Posted at 01/21/14 6:17 PM

DAP ruling may dictate PNoy’s fate - Santiago

MANILA - After another revelation that President Benigno Aquino III moved to influence the impeachment trial of ousted Chief Justice Renato Corona, a review of the trial by the Supreme Court may now be in order, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago said.

She said the high court should now decide on the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), which could be a game-changer with regard to Aquino’s fate.

“On the issue of whether judicial review of the impeachment trial is now called for, I believe that the Supreme Court can give due course to a petition for review on certiorari, on the ground of extrinsic fraud, which was committed outside the narratives of the trial,” she said.

She cited a Harvard University professor, Raoul Berger, who said a judicial review can be done in order to protect the executive or judiciary from the “arbitrary will” of Congress.

She said any decision on the DAP will settle the issue of bribery of an impeachment court.

Senator Jinggoy Estrada earlier said the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) released money allegedly as a reward for their move to oust Corona. The money was later revealed as the DAP.

On Monday, Senator Bong Revilla also said he was invited by Malacanang as the trial was being held.

“If President Aquino merely confined himself to attempts to influence the outcome of the impeachment trial last year, he did not commit a crime. But if he bribed the senator-judges to convict the accused, then he is guilty of bribery as prohibited by law and as a ground for his own impeachment under the Constitution,” Santiago said.

Naturally, Revilla and Estrada will deny that they were bribed because the law punishes both the giver and the receiver, she said.

She said the question, however, arises: Why were the three senators who voted to acquit not given P50 million or P100 million worth of DAP each? Santiago, Senator Bongbong Marcos, and former Senator Joker Arroyo voted to acquit Corona.

“At the very least, this procedure is discriminatory and constitutes a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution. It also gives rise to the natural presumption that bribery was intended and consummated,” she said.

Therefore, if the SC will rule that DAP is unconstitutional, the senator-judges who received the DAP will have to return the amounts they received.

“Furthermore, Pres. Aquino will become liable for impeachment, on the constitutional ground of bribery,” she said.