MANILA, Philippines — Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. has accused President Benigno Aquino III of interfering in the impeachment trial of then Chief Justice Renato Corona.
“Ginoong Pangulo, kung pag-uusapan lang naman po natin ang tama at mali, tama po ba na habang nililitis ang dating Chief Justice na si Renato Corona ay kailangang makialam ang mismong Pangulo ng Republika sa isang prosesong legal na dapat ay independyente?” Revilla asked when he delivered a privilege speech on Monday.
(Mr. President, if we talk about what is right and wrong, was it right for the President of the Republic to interfere in the supposedly independent legal process of trying Justice Corona?)
Earlier in his speech, Revilla denied having a hand in the P10-billion pork barrel scam that was allegedly masterminded by Janet Lim-Napoles, but failed to present details that would conclusively clear his name.
He said his signatures in the documents linking him to the scandal were forged and called whistle-blower Benhur Luy as “Boy Pirma” or master forger.
After blasting Luy, Revilla trained his guns at Malacañang. He said the scam was being used by the administration to coverup Aquino’s abuses and failures.
The senator then detailed his meeting with the President himself sometime before the Senate voted to impeach Corona.
Revilla started by showing a photo on the floor of a car with license plate number 6, which he said belonged to a Cabinet Secretary. He later identified the owner of the vehicle as Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II.
He also showed another photo, this time showing Roxas behind the vehicle. Revilla said it was him who took the picture.
Revilla said Roxas invited him to the latter’s residence in Cubao in Quezon City called “Bahay na Puti (white house)” and arrived there in the morning. Then he was asked to board the Interior secretary’s car that brought them to Bahay Pangarap at Malacañang.
It was the first time, he said, that he went to Bahay Pangarap where he met the President and Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad there.
“Habang nag-aalmusal kami ng pandesal, kesong puti, itlog, hamon, tapa, sinangag at mga prutas, bumangka si Secretary Mar tungkol sa mga dahilan kung bakit dapat ma-impeach si dating Chief Justice Corona,” Revilla said.
(While having breakfast, Secretary (Manuel) Mar (Roxas II) made a pitch why Corona should be impeached.)
“Bago kami magtapos, nagulat ako nang sinabi sa akin ng Presidente: “Pare, parang awa mo na, ibalato mo nasa akin. Kailangan s’yang ma-impeach,” the senator said.
(Before finishing our breakfast, I was stunned to hear the President telling me: “Buddy, please give me a favor. He should be impeached.”)
“Sabay sunod naman ni Secretary Abad, “Magtulungan tayo, Senator,” Revilla added.
(Then (Budget) Secretary (Florencio) Abad seconded, “Let’s help, Mr. Senator.”)
“Aaminin ko sa inyo ako ay nabigla dahil tila dinidiktahan ako ng Pangulo kaya ang naging sagot ko lang, Mr. President, I will do what is right. Naniniwala po ako na dapat manindigan sa tama at gagawin ko lang po ang tama para sa bayan,” he said.
(I would admit that I was so surprised that the President seemed to be pressuring me, so my answer was, ‘Mr. President, I will do what is right.’ I believe we should make a stand and fight what is right for the country.)
Revilla called Roxas as “Boy Pick-Up.”
Revilla was among those who voted to impeach Corona.
In opening his speech, Revilla’s voice was trembling in denying any involvement in the P10-billion “pork barrel” scam.
“For the record Mister President, I have nothing to do with this scam. I have no dealings and transactions with Napoles and the whistle-blowers,” Revilla said before a jampacked gallery of the Senate.
He also showed a PowerPoint presentation to show that his signatures had been forged.
“I did not confirm anything,” Revilla said, apparently referring to news reports that he had confirmed his signatures in some documents pertaining to the release of his “pork barrel” funds.
No less than the witnesses themselves, he said, who pointed to the principal whistle-blower, Benhur Luy, as the expert in forging signatures.
“Sa makatuwid, eto palang si Benhur Luy ay si ‘Boy Pirma,’” Revilla added.
(Therefore, this Benhur Luy is a master forger.)
Revilla also blasted Secretary Leila De Lima’s Department of Justice legal team for accepting Luy in the Witness Protection Program.
In a radio report, De Lima, in reaction, defended Luy and vouched for his integrity.