Corona wants evidence on PS Bank accounts ‘suppressed, excluded, expunged’By Maila Ager
MANILA, Philippines – Chief Justice Renato Corona, through his lawyers, has asked the Senate, sitting as an impeachment court, to “suppress, exclude, and expunge” all evidence pertaining to his accounts with the Philippine Savings Bank (PS Bank), saying they were obtained through an “unlawful search.”
In a 33-page “motion to suppress illegally obtained evidence” filed Monday evening before Office of the Senate Secretary, Corona’s lawyers specifically asked the Senate to disregard and remove from its records the evidence presented in relation to the subpoena issued on Feb. 6 and 9, 2012 addressed to PS Bank officials.
The issuance of the subpoenas resulted in the presentation of Corona’s local peso accounts at PS Bank and the appearance of its president Pascual Garcia and Katipunan branch manager Anabelle Tiongson before the Senate.
Corona’s lawyers explained that the motion they filed before the Senate was founded on the “constitutional guarantee against unlawful searches and seizure, and the prosecution for the individual, who has already suffered an unlawful search which is found in the exclusionary rule.”
“The only manner by which the illegal introduction of evidence can be stopped from being used against the individual – this is what the Constitution safeguards,” they said.
In the motion, defense lawyers pointed out PS Bank officials’ own admission that the documents used by the prosecution team to justify the issuance of subpoena against Corona’s bank records were fake.
“Indeed, in the course of the trial, it became clear that the documents were spurious,’” said the motion, noting how the prosecutors failed to provide a credible source or origin of the documents they submitted to the Senate.
“With the showing that the requests were based on falsified documents or unlawful searches, there is no justification to intrude upon Chief Justice Corona’s privacy,” it added.
Corona’s lawyers further argued that the presentation, reception and admission of said the evidence was “wholly invalid and illegal because of the violation of the absolute confidential nature of peso and foreign currency accounts.”
“Apart from the legal infractions, one thing is clear – the documents, whether falsified or not, passed on by the prosecution to the Honorable Court violate CJ Corona’s right against an unreasonable search,” said the motion.
“Having shown that the basis for the issuance of subpoena is unlawful or fraudulent or both, then all evidence emanating from it become the ‘fruit of the poisonous tree’ and therefore inadmissible in any proceeding, including this impeachment case,” it said.
“Whenever the evidence is illegally obtained in violation of the right against unreasonable searches or seizures, or where evidence is unlawfully obtained on the basis of fraudulent documents, the motion continued, “the court must suppress, disregard and exclude such evidence.”
“To do otherwise would violate CJ Corona’s right to due process and would sanction an illegal and contumacious act. This cannot be allowed by any court,” it further said.