MANILA (UPDATE) - President Aquino disclosed that aside from Senator Bong Revilla, he also met with Senators Jinggoy Estrada, TG Guingona, and Ralph Recto at the height of the impeachment trial of then Chief Justice Renato Corona.
He justified his meeting with them, saying he wanted to confirm reports about the pressure being exerted by some “sectors” on the senator-judges to allegedly decide the case not based on its merits.
He said it would have been “irresponsible” of him not to have “countered” the pressure.
He admitted, however, that he did not have evidence of the alleged pressure from these “sectors,” adding that it came from “intelligence reports” and “reports from various quarters.”
He said he wanted to “lessen the pressure” on them. In the case of Senator Bong Revilla, he said he only wants to let the senator feel that he would have his support if he chooses the “right”.
“Normally, parang pababayaan mo na lang sana pero napakaraming mga reports na confirmed na may mga sectors na ang bigat ng pressure na ine-exert dito sa mga senador para i-decide ang kaso hindi sa merito ng kaso. Parang ang daming sinasabi na i-exonerate niyo si Corona at ito ang mapapala n’yo,” Aquino told reporters.
“Tama ba naman na parang tatabi na lang ako habang ang lahat itong mga sector na ‘to ay talagang nananakot, nagpre-pressure, kung anu-anong ginagawa sa mga senador? Palagay ko naman ay natural lang na itanong ko sa kanila, i-confirm ko at maiparamdam din naman sa kanila na meron namang iba, na kung gagawin nila ang tama, ay handang sumuporta sa kanila.”
He denied he was pressuring the senator-judges to vote to convict Corona, saying he just wanted ensure that the case would be decided based on its merits.
He also justified having Interior Secretary Mar Roxas drive Revilla to Bahay Pangarap and avoid having Revilla seen publicly meeting with him.
“Pressure nga e ‘no. All of these people were being subjected to tremendous pressure, ‘yung holding it in a wrong venue will not lead to an exchange of ideas but rather it will be… ang dami nang issues na papasok d’yan—bakit kayo nag-uusap, etcetera, etcetera. That will further add to the pressures,” Aquino said.
“What I was trying to do was basically ensure that they decide the case on the merits of the case rather than any outside factor… I was trying to lessen the pressures on all of them.”
On why he tapped Roxas to fetch Revilla, Aquino said the secretary was more “diplomatic” and had longer working relations with the senator.
“Si Secretary Roxas facilitated parang a convivial atmosphere, rather than sa akin na automatic parang formal,” Aquino said.
He said he did not meet the majority of the senator-judges and would check his notes exactly on how many senators he indeed met.
Aquino recalled working in the past with Revilla when he was still a senator. He cited the deliberations for a bill lowering amusement taxes.
“Naitalaga ‘yon sa committee ko, naipasa ‘yung batas na ‘yan. In-interpellate siya ni Senator Jinggoy (Estrada) at natawag akong support staff ni Senator Revilla dahil tinutulungan ko siyang sumagot ‘nung dini-defend itong panukalang batas na ito,” Aquino said.
He also said that Revilla had once promised to support his administration when he assumed the presidency and reminded him about it later when he felt that Revilla was no longer supporting “all” his initiatives.
“Parati kasi ‘pag nagkikita kami sinasabi niya sa akin kalimutan ko ‘yung lumipas—dahil never naman kaming nagkasama talaga sa isang grouping, ‘di ba?—at asahan ko ‘yung kanyang suporta sa hinaharap, at ito ang parati niyang sinasabi sa akin mula ‘nung naging Pangulo ako,” he said.
"Tapos dumating sa isang punto na parang hindi ko nadadama ‘yung kanyang suporta sa lahat ng aking mga panukala at itinanong ko sa kanya kung dapat ko pang hintayin ‘yung hinaharap—‘yung support in the future na pinapangako niya—and he didn’t respond.”
Aquino said that Revilla’s wife, Representative Lani Mercado, has since been the one communicating with him.
“This was an exchange of text messages quite a while back, and after that, wala na rin kaming masyadong contact. Parang, if at all, from their camp ang nagte-text sa akin, especially during the last elections and prior to the election day, si Congresswoman Lani Mercado.”
During a campaign in Cavite in the last elections, Aquino took a swipe at the Revillas while endorsing the candidacy of Ayong Maliksi for governor.
“Huwag po tayong umasa sa tsamba o sa agimat o anting-anting,” Aquino said in his speech at the Alay sa Mamamayan event organized by Maliksi.
It was an apparent allusion to the Revillas, who are known for portraying roles using the agimat or talisman.