Tatad: Congressmen should be called to testify

Posted at 03/18/2012 1:10 PM | Updated as of 03/19/2012 6:53 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Former Senator Francisco Tatad has asked the impeachment court to study anew its decision not to subpoena congressmen in the trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona.

In a letter addressed to Senate President and Presiding Judge Juan Ponce Enrile, Tatad said the congressmen’s situation “is not on all fours with that of the Supreme Court Justices or the President.” 
The Senate earlier said it will not anymore issue any compulsory action against members of the high court out of courtesy to another branch of government. It said it will also apply the same thing to members of the House of Representatives.
“No member of Congress is an outsider to this process. Therefore no parliamentary courtesy is breached, nor is any discourtesy committed, if and when a member of the House is asked to testify in the case, which the House itself has initiated,” he said.
He noted that rule XVI of the impeachment court provides that: “If a Senator is called as a witness, he/she shall be sworn, and give his/her testimony standing in his/her place.”  
He said, thus: “It would seem invidious, and not many would be able to understand it if a Senator, now sitting as juror or judge in the trial, could be called as a witness, but not a member of the House of Representatives.”
This would extend to the members of the lower House a right and privilege not granted to the Senators, he said.
“I would leave it to others to speak of the constitutional rights of the Respondent, which may be seriously impaired if he is unable to avail of the testimony of certain witnesses vital to his defense, but I would be most grateful if the Honorable Court could kindly examine objectively my humble observation and see if there is at all any merit in it,” he said.
The defense wanted to subpoena several congressmen and testify on their knowledge of the drafting of the impeachment complaint against Corona. It was only Navotas Rep. Tobias Tiangco who volunteered to testify.