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Renato Corono Won't Resign, Wants Senate to Summon 6 House Members

Chief Justice Renato Corona has no plans of resigning less than a week before his impeachment trial at the Senate, Supreme Court spokesman Jose Midas Marquez said Tuesday.

"I think resignation is out of the question. So, the premise is wrong. Tama na yan ha," Marquez told reporters.

Marquez confirmed that two of Corona's lawyers - Atty. Ernesto Francisco Jr. and former Court of Appeals Justice Hector Hofileña - had left the defense team.

He said Francisco did not give a reason for resigning, saying only that it would be best if he is not part of Corona's defense team.

On the other hand, he said Hofileña expressed desire to join Corona's defense team but never showed up in any of the meetings.

A statement from Hofileña, meanwhile, said he withdrew from Corona's legal team out of delicadeza when he learned Atty. Mario Bautista is the lead private prosecutor on the impeachment case.

"I offered to withdraw from the Corona legal team out of delicadeza, when I read that Atty. Mario Bautista has been appointed as the lead private prosecutor on the impeachment case. A son of mine is a member of his law firm. And although my son assured me that will have no participation (sic) in the case, I wanted to avoid any suspicion of disloyalty on either his or my part by reason of such circumstance," he said.

"But this does not mean that I have deserted or abandoned the cause of the Chief Justice. I continue to support him, not only because I believe in the justice of his cause, but also because I believe in the Independence of the Judiciary, and the Rule of Law are inextricably interwoven with this case," he added.

Corona reportedly asked the Senate impeachment court to subpoena Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and five other members of the House of Representatives to compel them to appear on the first day of the impeachment trial on Monday.

Corona’s lawyer Jose M. Roy III submitted his request at the Senate Wednesday afternoon.

Other than Belmonte, Corona wants subpoenae ad testificandum issued against Iloilo City Rep. Niel Tupas, House Secretary General Rep. Marilyn Barua-Yap, Deputy Speaker Rep. Jesus Crispin C. Remulla, Batangas Second District Rep. Hermilando Mandanas, and Navotas City Rep. Tobias Tiangco.

Corona wants the six to shed light on the circumstances behind the gathering of 188 signatures in the House to impeach the Chief Justice last December 12.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said the request for subpoena will be taken up during the trial on Monday.

Enrile said the Senate will discuss whether the chamber, as an impeachment court, can summon their counterparts in the House, citing inter-parliamentary courtesy.

We cannot interfere with their internal rules in the same manner they cannot interfere with our internal rules. I would like to hear the arguments of both sides, (and see) whether the Senate has the power to go into the form and substance of preliminary issue, form and substance of the articles of impeachment, of whether we have to give credence in the action taken by the HR (House Resolution) in accordance with the rules,” he said.

Enrile said President Aquino cannot be barred from communicating with allies in the Senate and discuss the impeachment case.