PCIJ to CJ defense: Do your own research

By Ryan Chua, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 22 2012 12:38 PM | Updated as of Mar 23 2012 12:44 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Do your own research.

The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) gave this message to the defense team of Chief Justice Renato Corona, who asked the impeachment court to summon PCIJ staff to testify on the investigation it did on statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) of other government officials.

In its opposition to the defense's request for subpoena filed on Wednesday, the PCIJ pointed out that SALNs are available to the public.

"It might be more appropriate for the Respondent to direct the Request to these official custodians or do what the PCIJ did--go to the official custodians, make a request, pay the appropriate fees and, after securing the SALNs, do research and analysis," the PCIJ said through its lawyers Solomon Lumba and Nepomuceno Malaluan.

"The Respondent, or any other party for that matter, should not be allowed to free ride on the efforts, work, and journalistic portfolio of the PCIJ and, in so doing make it that party's private investigator, especially when such can be avoided through a little foresight and some hard work."

The defense wanted PCIJ's Malou Mangahas, Karol Anne Ilagan, and Ed Lingao to testify on the common practice of government officials in filling up their SALNs based on their research. This is to prove that Corona did not act in bad faith in accomplishing his SALNs, where the prosecution found several deficiencies.

The PCIJ disagreed, however, with the purpose of letting them testify.

It said the SALNs of other government officials are irrelevant to Corona's impeachment case, and that their research may not even be enough to prove the defense's point because it only involves the SALNs of 1,500 out of 1.3 million government personnel.

"The fact that there may have been others who benefited from their improper conduct would do nothing to excuse the Respondent," the PCIJ said, citing the case of United States v. Oldbear.

The PCIJ further argued that testifying for any party in the impeachment trial would expose it to "unfounded conclusions of partisanship" and damage its reputation.

It called on the impeachment court to balance the interests of the press with those of Chief Justice Corona.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said on Wednesday he will not act on the defense's request to subpoena PCIJ because the testimony would be irrelevant to Corona's case.