MANILA, Philippines – A church-based network of religious leaders, priests, seminarians and lay individuals laid down 3 challenges to Chief Justice Renato Corona regarding his ongoing impeachment trial in the Senate.
Representatives of the Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan, a church-based network of religious leaders, priests, seminarians and lay individuals, went to the Supreme Court (SC) this morning to deliver a letter addressed to Chief Justice Renato Corona in connection with his ongoing impeachment trial.
The group raised 3 main points in their 2-page letter: 1) a call for opening of Corona’s foreign bank accounts before the Senate Impeachment Court where the Chief Magistrate is being tried; 2) a call for Corona to take a leave of absence until a verdict is handed down by the Impeachment Court; and 3) a call for the Chief Justice to testify in his own defense.
“[W]e respectfully call on you to voluntarily open and make public the contents of your foreign currency deposit accounts… [w]e believe that the due time has come for this, given that the people’s search for the truth has taken sharper focus on your SALNs and bank records,” the letter read.
“Second, we respectfully call on your sense of fairness to impel you to take a voluntary leave… [w]e believe your continued presence in, and influence upon the Supreme Court which makes various decisions in relation to your own trial, will result in a process that cannot be deemed fair nor credible.
“Lastly, we respectfully call on you to testify… [w]e believe it is only by truth-telling that you can prove that your actions are based on public responsibility,” the letter read.
Student leaders from various schools, who are also signatories to the letter, came.
Attached to the 2-page letter is a joint statement entitled “Integrity, Truth and Public Trust” first presented at the Misa para sa Katotohanan last March 11 at the San Jose Seminary, Ateneo de Manila University Campus which urged the public to “collectively reflect on the fundamental issues brought before the Honorable Senator Judges of the Impeachment Court and the public…” and supported the process as a venue “to find the truth and seek accountability.”
In several media interviews, the Chief Magistrate had announced that he will voluntarily open his dollar accounts.
Corona, however, stressed that it will be done in accordance with his Defense team’s legal strategy in their presentation of evidence.
His lawyers, for their part, had said that it is the right of the Chief Justice to be accorded due process which includes the prerogative when to present his evidence on every Article of Impeachment.
Corona volunteered to open his foreign accounts in spite of a temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the Supreme Court on its opening by the Impeachment Court. The High Court held that under Republic Act (RA) No. 6426 (Foreign Currency Deposit Act), only the depositor may waive the absolute confidentiality of his/her account.
As for calls for him to take a leave of absence, Corona has consistently said he will continue to discharge his Constitutional mandate as Chief Justice.
Meantime, Corona’s defense team has yet to decide on whether he will have to take the witness stand.
“Ang gusto namin iwasan ay yung mabastos siya,” defense lawyers Serafin Cuevas and Tranquil Salvador said in media interviews.