Prosecution wants SC’s Sereno invited to Corona impeachment trial

The prosecution team believes that Supreme Court Associate Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno can shed light on how the high court came to issue a temporary restraining order against the watch list order against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her husband, Jose Miguel, last November.

Sereno was one of five associate justices who dissented from the Supreme Court ruling that favored 8-5 to let Arroyo and her husband, Jose Miguel, to travel abroad and stop government from enforcing its Immigration watch list order against the couple.

In their request, the prosecutors asked that the Senate impeachment court invite Sereno to "share" in next week's hearing her personal knowledge on the circumstances surrounding the issuance of the TRO.

"Her dissent forms part of the official records of the Court. Copies have been received by all the parties to the case and, therefore, are not in any way confidential, it being of public knowledge," the prosecutors noted.

On Thursday, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima testified before the impeachment court but her testimony was declared hearsay by presiding officer and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile because her testimony was largely based on Sereno’s dissenting opinion.

The Senate earlier ruled they will not subpoena the SC justices in deference to the separation of powers between the two government branches.

As such, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV asked the Senate to send Sereno the questions in writing.

The prosecutors assured the Senate that if Sereno accepts the invitation and decides to take the witness stand at a later date, she would have the right not to answer questions delving into what believes to be "confidential or [are] not allowed under their rules,"

The Supreme Court on February 14 came out with a resolution stating the principle of "comity or inter-departmental courtesy."

The resolution laid down the limitations regarding the disclosure of court records and proceedings — result of raffling of cases, actions taken on each case in an agenda, and deliberations among members during sessions.

"The Prosecution Panel is very mindful of the principles of comity and inter-departmental courtesy and in this regard, we most respectfully suggest, as an alternative to the compulsory process of a subpoena, for the Impeachment Tribunal to instead send an invitation to Sereno to appear before the Impeachment Tribunal on the above-mentioned date and time," according to the request.

The prosecution is now tackling Article VII of the impeachment complaint. Atricle VII accuses Corona of betraying public trust by being partial in grating a TRO in favor of the Arroyo couple so that they may have the opportunity escape prosecution.

According to Article VII, the SC decision was distorted in terms of when it should have been enforced in view of the couple’s failure to comply with the conditions of the TRO. — VS, GMA News