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Palace hopes Justice Sereno will testify in Corona trial

Malacañang on Monday expressed hope that Supreme Court Associate Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno will voluntarily testify in the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona in the Senate. The prosecutors want Sereno, an appointee of President Benigno Aquino III to the high court, to testify on her dissenting opinion regarding the temporary restraining order issued against the implementation of the watch list order on former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.              “The testimony of Justice Sereno would be welcomed,” presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said at a press briefing. “She will testify as to what she wrote in her dissenting opinion and certainly it is part of the whole process of bringing out the truth in that particular decision on the TRO.”   He also expressed hope the Senate would allow Sereno to testify.   “We hope that the Senate impeachment court will look into the whole idea of the impeachment court as an avenue for the truth to come out, of course subject to their regulations,” Lacierda said.   Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV on Thursday asked the Senate impeachment court to send questions to Sereno to shed light on the circumstances surrounding the issuance of the TRO, which almost resulted in Mrs. Arroyo, who is facing electoral sabotage charges, leaving the country last November. Mrs. Arroyo, now a congresswoman representing Pampanga’s second district, has sought the SC’s help against the watch list order issued against her by the Department of Justice so that she can seek treatment abroad for her bone mineral disorder. Trillanes withdraws motion Trillanes, however, withdrew his motion Monday, according to Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile.   "The motion of the gentleman from Caloocan and Bicol to use the remedy of written interrogatories to get the testimony of the honorable Justice Lourdes Sereno of the Supreme Court has been withdrawn," said Enrile, presiding officer of the impeachment court, during the day's trial. The prosecutors are currently arguing 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 annd to frustrate the ends of justice, and in distorting the SC decision on the effectivity of the TRO in view of a clear failure to comply with the conditions of the SC's own TRO." Corona’s unilateral action? Lacierda believed Sereno’s testimony would show Corona’s alleged unilateral action on the TRO. Corona has been widely associated with Mrs. Arroyo, who appointed him to the SC in 2002 and as chief justice in 2010.   “That should be brought to light and by way of testimony. It is something that we would hope that Justice Sereno will be able to testify and to shed out the truth in that TRO deliberations in the SC,” he said.   Asked if Sereno’s testimony would have any implication in the independence of the SC, Lacierda replied in the negative, saying there had been a number of cases where the internal deliberations of the SC have been discussed and fleshed out.   “The disclosures of internal deliberations of the SC have happened regularly in the opinions of the SC. So this is not surprising to all of us and I think this should not be a cause of concern,” he said.   Meanwhile, Lacierda expressed support on the decision of House prosecution team to end their presentation in six trial days.   “I think Article 2 has sufficiently laid the basis to warrant a conviction while Article 7 would show the unilateral action taken by Chief Justice Corona. It is the call of prosecution (if they will rest their case),” he said. – with Kimberly Jane Tan/KBK, GMA News