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MANILA, Philippines -- House prosecutors will not seek help from President Benigno Aquino III to find witnesses in the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona despite admitting difficulty getting people to testify for them.
Marikina Representative Romero Federico Quimbo, a prosecution spokesman, said they saw no need for Aquino’s help since the Senate impeachment court has more than enough powers to summon people to testify at Corona’s trial.
Nor, he added, can they do what he claimed the defense has repeatedly done.
“I don’t think it’s wise for us to seek the help of the executive, the President in particular, because we’ve always been the first ones criticizing the defense team, particularly the Chief Justice, who are always running to the Supreme Court when they have a ruling here that’s not always favorable to them,” Quimbo said on Monday.
He added that invoking the executive’s power would be “tantamount to betrayal of the proceedings” even as he accused the defense of treating the Supreme Court as its “hometown.”
“If we are criticizing the defense for doing that, I don’t think it’s appropriate for us to be doing that as well,” he said.
The prosecution is asking the impeachment court to summon Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno to testify on her dissenting opinion on the temporary restraining order issued by the Supreme Court against the inclusion of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her husband on government’s travel watch list.
However, the high court has forbidden magistrates from testifying before the impeachment court except on a voluntary basis.
The Senate has also refused to issue subpoenas for the justices, taking the prosecution to task for insisting on asking.
Earlier, Bayan Muna party-list Representative Neri Colmenares admitted that they need the impeachment court to issue subpoenas because they are having a hard time inviting people to testify.
“Witnesses are always reluctant to testify,” Colmenares said, “Perhaps because they are going against the Chief justice.”
But Senator Joker Arroyo said the prosecution has the blessing of Aquino and should not have any trouble at all.
"Don't ascribe to the fact that it is hard going against the Chief Justice," Arroyo said. "You have the backing of the President; you should have no problem getting witnesses."
Meanwhile, the prosecution has requested the Senate to subpoena lawyer Harry Roque of the University of the Philippines Law Center to testify and bring with him documents on the voting records of Corona.
“He will testify as an expert witness on the voting record of Chief Justice Renato Corona as a member of the Supreme Court to prove his partiality and subservience to former president now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, both when she was President and after she ceased to be one,” the house panel said in a motion filed Monday afternoon. (with a report from Karl John C. Reyes)