Lawmaker-prosecutor wants to impeach 8 justices who voted for TRO

February 9, 2012 11:32 pm 

By Lilybeth G. Ison

MANILA, Feb. 9 — A member of the House of Representatives' prosecution panel proposed on Thursday that the eight Supreme Court justices who voted to grant a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the disclosure of Chief Justice Renato Corona’s dollar accounts should be impeached.

Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Farinas, deputy leader of the House prosecution team, also called the decision a "meddling" in the affairs of a co-equal branch of government.

Voting 8-5, the High Tribunal granted the TRO on the disclosure of Corona's dollar accounts.

Farinas accused the High Court of protecting Corona, who, "suddenly, like a spoiled child, since he cannot get what he wants, he goes to the SC."

He said the SC, out of "delicadeza" or propriety, should not meddle with Congress since the Senate is granted a "specific power" as an impeachment court.

For his part, Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares, member of the House prosecution team, said the issuance of a TRO by the High Court "is a clear attempt to derail the impeachment proceedings and hide the truth about the chief magistrate's (alleged) unexplained wealth."

"It's the worst move Corona can make and will surely backfire on him and his Supreme Court justices. Whatever public trust that Corona has left so far will completely disappear," said Colmenares in a text message.

"The people will be asking how much dollars does Corona have to merit opening five dollar accounts in one bank alone not to mention the nearly P31 million in peso deposits at the PSBank (Philippine Savings Bank) and BPI (Bank of Philippine Islands) that was not declared in his 2010 SALN (statement of assets, liabilities and net worth)," he said.

Colmenares hopes that the Senate, sitting as the impeachment court, will not allow "this attempt to hide the truth and persist in the subpoena of information on these accounts."

Aside from hiding the truth, the Bayan Muna party-list lawmaker said, the chief justice is setting the High Court and the Senate as an impeachment court "into a collision course which could lead to turmoil."

Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara, one of the prosecution’s spokesmen, said the Ilocos Norte solon's plan to impeach the eight justices was a necessary part of "house cleaning."

"Kung ang impeachment ay paglilinis po ng ating bahay o pagreporma ng mga hindi tamang desisyon, dapat po (If impeachment is a cleaning of our house or reforming bad decisions, then it is necessary)," he said in a media interview.

Meanwhile, House Deputy Speaker and Quezon Rep. Lorenzo "Erin" Tanada III, spokesman for the prosecution, said the continued invocation of the Foreign Currency Deposit Unit (FCDU) Act of 1974 seems to encourage not only impeachable officers, but also any other person who has a tendency to be corrupt, to conceal ill-gotten wealth.

"It is so disheartening that the chief justice is using the FCDU Act of 1974 as to conceal the truth," he said.

"This absurd situation would then make it easy for corrupt public individuals to escape accountability by simply depositing their illegally-stashed money into dollar accounts, thus keeping their so-called fruits of corruption, effectively hidden," he said.

Tanada lamented that the law was intended to beef up the country's dollar supply and increase investments, but not to be used as "legal cover and be a sanctuary for graft and corruption and ill-gotten wealth."

"If it were so, it is like saying to any one, be they public or private individuals, pag-corrupt ka, mag-dollar account ka," he said.

The SC associate justices who voted in favor of the TRO were Teresita Leonardo-De Castro, Arturo Brion, Roberto Abad, Jose Perez, Lucas Bersamin, Martin Villarama Jr., Bienvenido Reyes, and Jose Mendoza.

Those who objected to the issuance of the TRO were Associate Justices Antonio Carpio, Mariano Del Castillo, Diosdado Peralta, Maria Lourdes Sereno, and Estela Bernabe.

Chief Justice Corona and Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr. took no part on the case. (PNA)

scs/LGI

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