What a liar we have for a President.
His sidekick Interior Secretary Mar Roxas invites Senator Ramon Revilla, Jr., an impeachment judge, to his famed “White House” mansion in Cubao for breakfast. After arriving there, Revilla is surprised: Roxas tells him they’ll instead have breakfast with President Aquino in Malacañang.
As if in some spy movie, Roxas drives his heavily tinted black Land Cruiser himself and asks Revilla to stay in the back seat, and they drive out of Mar’s mansion.
Revilla later on realizes why he was asked to sit in the back seat as if Roxas were his chauffeur. It was so he wouldn’t be seen by the Presidential Security Guards when Roxas rolled up the window to be identified, so that the SUV would be allowed to enter the high-security PSG compound where “Bahay Pangarap,” a secluded bungalow where Aquino lives, is located far from the sight of Malacañang employees.
I’m sure Revilla smiled ear-to-ear when he saw Budget Secretary Florencio Abad there to join their breakfast meeting with Aquino. Yes, the budget secretary who releases government money.
Mar’s clandestine operation meant: No witnesses that Revilla ever was in the PSG compound at the President’s residence, or at his office across the Pasig. No guest book to prove Revilla was there.
If Revilla had exposed that meeting at that time when Aquino was at his peak in popularity, it would have been the action star’s word against his. Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda would have dismissed Revilla’s claim with his usual tactic of cracking a corny joke.
Deniability was in their minds for that meeting, as they knew it was an impeachable offense — the President meddling in the impeachment trial — when Aquino asked Revilla to vote Chief Justice Renato Corona guilty. With Abad in the meeting, the press would have gone to town exposing the obvious bribery attempt on Revilla. Abad said in that meeting, according to Revilla: “Magtulungan tayo [Let’s help each other.].” That was a clear message, coming from the budget secretary: “If you want your pork-barrel, cooperate with us.”
But Aquino’s incompetence and pettiness have unraveled since that time, and his trust ratings have plummeted and more people would believe Revilla this time. Aquino didn’t have any choice but to admit the meeting took place.
Abad picked on the language Revilla alleged Aquino to have used, that it is not the President’s style to say “Balato mo na sa akin si Corona.” Maybe so. Maybe Aquino instead said: “Do me a big favor and vote to convict Corona.”
Roxas turned his back on reporters when first asked about the meeting. He later on issued a statement that the meeting with Revilla was about the “cityhood of Bacoor and his being head of the Lakas Party.”
Lying hasn’t really been Roxas’ strength, as it usually isn’t for spoiled brats. (Aquino risked being accused of taking over Tacloban from a political enemy, he claimed, in response to videos showing him bullying the mayor to issue documents giving him authority over relief and rescue operations in the typhoon-ravaged city.)
Aquino and Roxas couldn’t even get their fabrications consistent. Aquino didn’t even mention those issues about Bacoor and Lakas Party when he recounted what happened in his meeting with Revilla.
He said the topic was for him “to verify persistent reports that the senators were being pressured by interest groups to influence the outcome of the impeachment trial,” and that he merely asked Revilla to “decide on the basis of its merits.” If the Malacañang press corps had any wits at all, they could have very easily caught Aquino lying by quickly asking him: “Name one of these interest groups.”
All that cloak-and-dagger stuff to bring Revilla secretly to Aquino’s residence, with Roxas and Abad—his two top lieutenants—there in the breakfast meeting just to patronizingly ask a Senator-Judge to decide what’s right? Didn’t he swear to do that as a Senator of the Republic?
It is shocking how Aquino and his officials would assume that the press and Filipinos are so stupid that they’d believe their explanation of the meeting.
UP political science professor Clarita Carlos claimed in a television interview that the President “has the right to try to influence the Senate, and that he does this routinely, for instance in pursuing his priority bills.”
What Carlos forgot though is that the Senate in an impeachment trial, when the meeting occurred, was not the Senate as a legislative body but as a court and the senators were the judges, just like the judges of the Sandiganbayan or even of municipal court.
If a mayor calls the Makati court judge to his residence to tell him that he should convict an accused in a case before the judge—or even just for him to decide “on the merits of the case”—he would be committing a serious obstruction of justice as well as contempt of court. If disclosed in public, that would require a mistrial declaration, and for the mayor to be charged for obstruction of justice.
Revilla’s claims would have been merely a Revilla-claims-Aquino-denies story, if not for revelations in the past several months that the President not only used the usual pork-barrel funds but the dubious Disbursement Acceleration Fund to bribe the Senator-Judges to convict Corona.
How those pork-barrel funds could be huge bribes has also been revealed by the Commission on Audit’s special report and by whistleblowers, that the money can be and had been hijacked by legislators through bogus NGOs.
Pork barrel released
What Revilla understandably didn’t say in his speech—but which would bolster his allegations—is that Aquino released the bulk of his P100 pork-barrel funds for 2012 after that meeting.
On May 4, 2012—after his meeting with Aquino in Malacañang, which was in the last week of April, I was told— Abad released P86 million of Revilla’s P100 million pork barrel for the year. It was on May 29 that the Senate voted to boot out Corona as chief justice. These figures are from the budget department’s data.
It wasn’t just Revilla who got their pork barrel funds on the eve of the vote or right after:
• Senator Jinggoy Estrada, whom Aquino the other day admitted he met to discuss Corona’s trial, got P50 million of his pork barrel money released on a single day before the vote, on May 4.
• Senator Lapid got P50 million released on April 26, and the remaining P50 million on May 8.
Even senators who were in Aquino’s camp or known to be supportive of him played it safe, didn’t believe the President’s promises, and had a show-me-the-money-first mentality.
• Senator Francis Escudero got P50.5 million of his pork barrel also on a single day, on April 18 and P46 million on May 8, two weeks before the Senate vote.
• Senator Alan Peter Cayetano got P57 million of his pork barrel released on a single day on February 17, when the trial went into high gear,
• Senator Manuel Villar got his P50 million released on a single day, May 18, 2012, about a week before the vote and got the remaining P50 million on July 6.
President Aquino must be impeached, if we are to regain our dignity as a nation under the rule of law, if Congress is to salvage what remains of its integrity after being so servile to him in the past three years, and joining him in a conspiracy to put the Supreme Court under his thumb.
Section 2 of the constitution specifies: “The President may be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, culpable violation of the Constitution, treason, bribery, graft and corruption, other high crimes, or betrayal of public trust.”
It is only treason that Aquino had not committed among these crimes listed as basis for impeachment in his conspiracy to remove Chief Justice Corona in 2012.
Aquino’s impeachable crime is worse than the corruption Estrada was impeached for. Estrada would have been impeached for extorting money from a jueteng lord, a corrupt governor, and the unscrupulous owners of Belle Resources Corp.
Aquino’s crime is that he undermined the basic foundations of our republican, democratic system by attacking the Supreme Court that represents the independent judicial branch of government.
He committed bribery by offering the Senator-Judges the quick release of their pork barrel funds as well as an additional P100 million in such discretionary funds disguised as allocations out of the Disbursement Acceleration Fund.
By doing so he is also guilty of graft and corruption since the Anti Graft and Corrupt Practices Act deems guilty not only the recipient of bribe money guilty, but the briber—Aquino.
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