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The Senate on Thursday dismissed as “hearsay” several portions of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima’s testimony about Chief Justice Renato Corona’s supposed influence in the Supreme Court’s issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) that almost resulted in former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo leaving the country last November.
De Lima admits her testimony is hearsay Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Thursday admitted that her testimony about Chief Justice Renato Corona’s supposed influence in the Supreme Court’s issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) that almost resulted in former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo leaving the country last November can be considered hearsay. "By and large, my testimony on internal matters is indeed hearsay because I was never there [during Supreme Court deliberations]," De Lima said during the 23rd day of the impeachment trial. She issued the statement after Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. clarified how they should handle De Lima's narration of the events concerning the issuance of the TRO. [Read more]Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, who presides over Corona’s impeachment trial, told senator-judges to disregard De Lima’s interpretation of the dissenting opinion of Associate Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, since she does not have personal knowledge on the details contained in the court document. “It [testimony] is hearsay because the witness was not present when those were done… It is not within the competence of the witness,” he said on the 23rd day of the trial in the Senate, which is sitting as the impeachment court. He, however, allowed De Lima’s narration of the facts based on Sereno’s dissenting opinion to remain in the Senate records. Enrile’s ruling came after lead defense counsel Serafin Cuevas moved to strike out from the Senate records De Lima’s statements on supposed irregularities in the issuance of the TRO against the watch list order on Arroyo and her husband Jose Miguel.. “We predicated this on the admission of the secretary of justice that her knowledge came by reading the dissenting opinion. All she testified on the irregularities did not come from personal knowledge but by reading,” Cuevas said. Northern Samar Rep. Raul Daza, one of the public prosecutors, tried to block Cuevas’ move by saying that De Lima’s testimony should be given a “presumption of truth” and should be treated as a “matter of defense and weight.” Enrile did not directly order the striking out of De Lima’s testimony, saying that the rule on hearsay does not strictly applied in impeachment cases. He said an impeachment case is only “akin” to a criminal proceeding. The Senate impeachment court is currently tackling Article VII of the impeachment complaint, which accuses Corona of betraying public trust through his "partiality in granting a TRO in favor of former President Arroyo and her husband Mike in order to give them an opportunity to escape prosecution and to frustrate the ends of justice, and in distorting the Supreme Court decision on the effectivity of the TRO in view of a clear failure to comply with the conditions of the SC's own TRO." - KBK, GMA News