Defense wants PSBank testimony, evidence excluded

By Christina Mendez, The Philippine Star

Posted at Feb 29 2012 09:55 AM | Updated as of Feb 29 2012 09:42 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The defense camp yesterday reiterated before the impeachment court its objection to the testimonies of Philippine Savings Bank (PSBank) Katipunan branch manager Annabelle Tiongson, saying their motion is founded on the constitutional guarantee against unlawful searches and seizure.

In a 33-page motion, the lawyers of Chief Justice Renato Corona moved to “suppress, exclude and expunge” from the court all evidence offered, received, marked and proposed in relation to the court’s subpoena dated Feb. 6 and Feb. 9 issued to Tiongson.

“The exclusion of evidence is 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,” the defense said.

They added that the testimonies of the representatives of PSBank will confirm that the documents submitted by the prosecution are not copies of documents of the bank.

“Indeed, in the course of the trial, it became clear that the documents were spurious,” Corona’s lawyers argued.

They added that neither Representatives Reynaldo Umali nor Jorge Banal could provide a credible source or origin of the document.

Umali pointed to a “small lady” as source of a photocopy of the alleged bank documents of Corona at PSBank Katipunan.  

Tiongson has testified that Banal approached her late January at the branch to confirm certain entries in the photocopy of Corona’s supposed signature card with the bank.

Led by ex-justice Serafin Cuevas, the defense cited Article III Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution that protects a person’s privacy: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose shall be inviolable, and no search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue except upon probable cause to be determined personally by the judge.”

The defense argued that the testimonies of PSBank president Pascual Garcia III and Tiongson will prove that the prosecution’s evidence was based on a falsified document or that it was product of an unlawful search.

They pointed out that the prosecution’s inexcusable use of fake or unlawfully obtained documents deceived the impeachment court in issuing the subpoena.

The defense also took note of Senator-judge Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s manifestation that she found Umali’s claims “incredible.”

The defense also noted Santiago’s statement that the prosecution is presumed to be the one who took the bank documents from PSBank.