MANILA, Philippines–A member of Chief Justice Renato Corona’s defense team repeatedly apologized to senators on Monday over the alleged P100 million bribe offered to them by Malacanang.
“Humihingi (kami) ng dispensa kung hindi naging malinaw ang aming pahayag (We apologize if we’ve not made our statement clear)…There was no malice on the part of the defense,” said defense lawyer Jose Roy III, responding to queries of Senate Minority Leader Alan Cayetano.
Roy said it was not their intention to put malice when they said in a hastily called press conference Sunday that they received information from a source that Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa was phoning senators and dangling a P100 million to defy the Supreme Court decision against opening of dollar accounts allegedly owned by Corona.
“Again, we apologize…” said Roy, adding that the defense team maintains its high regard for the Senate and that they never questioned the institution or the senators’ integrity.
But Cayetano did not accept the apology, saying, “It’s easy to apologize but you can’t put the toothpaste back into the tube.”
Roy repeated his apology when Senator Pia Cayetano also stood up to denounce the allegation.
“On behalf of the defense panel, we apologize for any discomfort,” said the lawyer.
The issue was brought up at the resumption of the impeachment trial at around 3:00 in the afternoon when Senate Pro Tempore Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada took the floor to denounce the allegation of the defense team.
Estrada dared the defense team to identify its source, saying it’s a big insult to the senators and the institution.
“Hinahamon ko kayong lahat na pangalanan ang nag-paabot sa inyo ng kwentong ito (I dare you all to name the source of this tale)…You are fully accountable for attempting to besmirch the name of the institution…” he said.
Estrada vehemently denied receiving any call from Malacanang..