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Impeachment court denies move to subpoena Corona, family


(Updated 4:40 p.m.) The Senate, sitting as the impeachment court, on Tuesday voted 14-6 to deny the House prosecution's request to subpoena Chief Justice Renato Corona and several members of his family to the impeachment proceedings.   The senators put the issue to a vote after Senate Minority Floor Leader Alan Peter Cayetano opposed the ruling of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, the presiding officer, denying the prosecution’s request. “We cannot deny the subpoena because we cannot predict if and when the daughters will in fact manifest or claim the privilege and/or the husband will claim [it]," Cayetano said.
The senators who voted against the ruling were: Cayetano, his sister Pia Cayetano, Aquilino Pimentel III, Teofisto Guingona III, Antonio Trillanes IV, and Manuel Villar. Those in favor of Enrile's ruling were: Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada, Senate Majority Floor Leader Vicente Sotto III, Senators Edgardo Angara, Joker Arroyo, Franklin Drilon, Francis Escudero, Gregorio Honasan, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Panfilo Lacson, Lito Lapid, Sergio Osmena III, Francis Pangilinan, Ralph Recto, and Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr. Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago is on sick leave while Senator Loren Legarda is in the United States. Subpoena regarding 45 properties
The prosecution had requested the impeachment court to require Corona, his wife Cristina, daughters Carla Corona-Castillo and Charina, son Francis, and son-in-law Constantino Castillo III to testify in the impeachment proceedings regarding the family's alleged 45 properties in Metro Manila.
  Along with the request was a motion to subpoena several documents related to the purchase of some properties supposedly acquired by Corona and his family. Corona has denied owning 45 properties, and claimed ownership of only five of them.   But the presiding officer, in the ruling read by the Senate secretary Emma Lirio-Reyes, stated that the Senate cannot issue a subpoena because this would violate Corona's constitutional right against self-incrimination.   "Section 17 Article III of the 1987 Constitution provides no person shall be compelled to be a witness against himself. This Constitutional provision applies to civil, criminal, or administrative cases," said the decision.   It also said that Corona cannot be required to produce documents stated in the prosecution's request because the prohibition also applies to the production of evidence that would incriminate him.   The Senate added that even the Senate rules of impeachment indicate that Corona does not need to appear before the impeachment court throughout the proceedings.   Regarding Corona's wife Cristina, the impeachment court said there was "no legal justification" to ask her to appear before the Senate, in accordance with Sections 22 and 24 of Rule 30 of the Rules of Court   Section 22 states: "During their marriage, neither the husband nor the wife may testify for or against the other without the consent of the affected spouse, except in a civil case by one against the other, or in a criminal case for a crime committed by one against the other or the latter's direct descendants or ascendants."   Section 24 states: "The husband or the wife, during or after the marriage, cannot be examined without the consent of the other as to any communication received in confidence by one from the other during the marriage except in a civil case by one against the other, or in a criminal case for a crime committed by one against the other or the latter's direct descendants or ascendants."   The impeachment court also disallowed the request to subpoena Corona's children, citing Section 35 Rule 130 of the Rules of Court: "No person may be compelled to testify against his parents, other direct ascendants, children or other direct descendants." Cayetano objection In a speech, Cayetano said he agreed with the presiding officer's ruling denying the issuance of a subpoena for Corona, but disagreed in doing the same for the magistrate's family members.   Cayetano said the move might set a "precedent" to future rulings, and specifically objected to Constantino’s inclusion in those covered by the Constitutional provision on filial and parental privilege.   The impeachment court said it cannot grant the request for subpoena for Charina and Constantino on the basis of the "doctrine of necessary implication."   "This court believes that by necessary implication children-in-law are covered by the prohibition to testify on account of parental and filial privilege," it said.   Chief prosecutor Rep. Niel Tupas Jr. initially asked for more time to file for a motion for reconsideration, but eventually conformed to the ruling. He said the prosecution panel would just submit a “legal memorandum" in connection with the issue. Subpoena for Register of deeds
Meanwhile, Enrile issued a subpoena ordering the registers of deeds of various cities to produce the titles to the properties alleged to have been illegally acquired by Corona and his family.
 
“I have signed the request for subpoena duces tecum against the respective Registers of Deeds of the various cities, where this claimed real estate are located, including subpoena duces tecum on properties for them to produce the certificates,” he said during the trial.
 
Included in the documents are Transfer Certificates of Titles and Condominium Certificates of Title.
 
House prosecutors had earlier claimed that Corona was able to acquire several real estate properties in Metro Manila amounting to more than P200 million, which is supposedly grossly disproportionate to his income as Chief Justice.
 
Among these properties are the condominium units at the Bellagio Tower and Bonifacio Ridge in Taguig City, The Columns in Makati City, and Burgundy Plaza in Quezon City, and a house and lot in La Vista Subdivision, also in Quezon City. — RSJ/KBK/HS/YA, GMA News
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