MANILA, Philippines—The Senate sitting as an impeachment court on Thursday ruled that Justice Secretary de Lima’s testimony about the alleged irregularities in the temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the Supreme Court last November 15 was hearsay.
But Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile, presiding officer, also ruled to keep de Lima’s testimony as “part of her testimony” or record.
“It is the ruling of the chairman that to the extent of the facts narrated by the witness…let them remain as part of her testimony, let them remain as part of the record, as a consequence and part of her testimony as a witness,” said Enrile.
But to the extent of the truth or falsity of the alleged irregularities in the TRO based on the dissenting opinion of Supreme Court Associate Justice Lourdes Sereno, the Senate leader said, “Those facts whether they are true or not, that the Chief Justice influenced this, did that, or somebody else.. then to that extent it is hearsay because the witness was not present when those things were being done or being said.”
“So I will allow the testimony of the witness to remain in the record, and admonish, or rather suggest to the court to disregard whether the statement of the Chief Justice or what he did or other justice did in the course of deliberations because those are not within the competence of the witness to testify as they are hearsay,” Enrile added.
The Senate leader made the ruling when Corona’s lead counsel, former Supreme Court Associate Justice Serafin Cuevas, moved to strike out de Lima’s testimony about the alleged irregularities merely based on Sereno’s dissenting opinion.
“I will move, much to my regret, for the striking out of the entirety of the testimony of the witness on the ground that the same is hearsay in so far as the accuracy, the truth and alleged authenticity of what is alleged as basic facts for the dissenting opinion,” said Cuevas.
“I regret to do that your honor. But the rules of evidence and procedure compelled me to do so. I’m not questioning that there’s such a dissenting opinion but I’m not in conformity with it what was stated and the statement of facts made because they are controverted by the other facts…” he said.
De Lima has pointed out that based on Sereno’s dissenting opinion, the Supreme Court implemented the TRO despite its failure to meet all the conditions set for the issuance of the order.
“This is a conditional TRO but it was made to appear that it could already be implemented,” she said, responding to queries of Corona’s lead counsel, former Supreme Court Associate Justice Serafin Cuevas.
De Lima also cited the alleged failure to reflect the exact voting in a November 18 resolution issued on the matter when Associate Justice Antonio Carpio sought for a clarificatory of the issuance of the TRO.
“Because it was never stated in the November 18 resolution that there was no compliance yet of the condition… so it’s deemed suspended until compliance with the condition,” she explained.
And instead of clarifying the exact voting and matters voted upon on November 18, the “error” was further compounded when the Chief Justice came up with his own version of the November 22 clarificatory resolution which did not reflect the correct voting, De Lima said.