SC bars employees from testifying in CJ trial

Posted at 02/28/12 3:02 PM

MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) - The Supreme Court on Tuesday disallowed 2 of its employees from testifying in the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona.

In a press conference, SC spokesman Jose Midas Marquez said the High Court will be issuing a resolution expressing its sense that it is not waiving its judicial privilege on pending cases.

Marquez said the impeachment court's subpoenae were referred to the Court En Banc because of a Feb. 14 Resolution barring justices and court officials and employees from disclosing information pertaining to the raffle of cases, actions taken on each case in the agenda of court sessions, and deliberations of Justices on cases and matters pending before the Court.

"The Feb. 14 Resolution says the Court has judicial privilege... the Court [will issue] a Resolution expressing its sense that it is not waiving its judicial privilege on this matter and therefore, the 2 employees are advised not to appear before the Impeachment Court," Marquez said.

"It is clearly stated that the judicial privilege belongs to the Court and therefore, only the Court can waive the privilege. The waiver should come from the Supreme Court," he added.

"Therefore, the 2 Court employees have been advised not to appear in the impeachment court."

The process servers were subpoenaed to testify on their attempt to serve the temporary restraining order (TRO) on the Arroyo travel ban on the Department of Justice (DOJ) last Nov. 15.

The TRO was not received by the DOJ for the reason that the service was beyond office hours.

The Senate, sitting as an impeachment court, earlier issued subpoenas for 2 process servers of the SC that tried to serve a TRO on the watch list order barring former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo from leaving the country.

Corona is accused of unjustly favoring Mrs. Arroyo when the SC issued the TRO allowing her to travel last November 15.

House prosecutors said the court personnel could testify on the alleged special treatment given to Mrs. Arroyo so she could leave the country on that date.

The executive branch defied the order so Mrs. Arroyo was not able to leave.

'Sad and frightening'

The prosecution said it is “saddening and frightening” that the Supreme Court barred anew its employees from testifying in the impeachment trial of Corona.

In a manifestation, House prosecutor Neri Colmenares claimed they have already established the connections between Corona and Mrs. Arroyo, leading to the high court’s order to issue a TRO on her travel restraint.

“The only question left now: who allowed this?” Colmenares said. He said it was only Corona who could have pushed for the issuance of the TRO.

“What is the SC hiding from this court?” Colmenares asked.

Presiding Judge Juan Ponce Enrile said, however, that the SC has its own internal rules. He said the Constitution would have to be changed if the impeachment court is to control the SC.  -- with reports from Ira Pedrasa, ABS-CBNnews.com; Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News