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Aquino hits ‘Panday’: No fantasy, fabrication

Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. in his ‘Panday’ costume. He is known for his role as Flavio in the film “Ang Panday” (The Blacksmith).

President Aquino on Wednesday took a swipe at Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. who gave a scathing criticism of his “daang matuwid” (straight path) mantra.

Aquino assailed the senator at the launching of the P26-billion Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3 (MMS 3) which, he said, would be among the “concrete projects delivered through our honest and good governance for the benefit of the Filipino people.”

“To those repeatedly asking and deliberately turning a blind eye to our achievements: This is the straight path,” he said in his speech.

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“This is not hammered out of fantasy, nor fabricated like a scene in a movie,” he said, referring to Revilla’s films.

The President, whose perceived lapses and shortcomings in the last three years were detailed in  Revilla’s privilege speech on Monday, slammed what he said was Revilla’s attempt to portray himself as a handsome hero.

The senator is known for his role as Flavio in the film, “Ang Panday” (The Blacksmith). He also starred in the movie, “Alyas Pogi” (Alias Handsome) in the early ’90s.

Revilla on Monday denied allegations he diverted P500 million of his pork barrel funds to dubious nongovernment organizations (NGOs).

The senator then blasted the administration’s purported slow and inefficient response in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Yolanda last November, the rising cost of electricity, the planned fare increase at the Metro Rail Transit, and the alleged inclusion of bogus beneficiaries in the government’s conditional cash transfer program.

Political exercise

Revilla also disclosed that he was taken to the President’s official residence and was asked to vote for the conviction of then Chief Justice Renato Corona in his impeachment trial in the Senate for dishonesty in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth.

On Tuesday, the President confirmed meeting with Revilla. He said he also had sat down with Senators Jinggoy Estrada, Teofisto Guingona III and Ralph Recto in the middle of the Corona trial.

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Aquino claimed he did so only to “lessen the pressure” allegedly being exerted on the senator-judges by some “interest groups” seeking Corona’s acquittal.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda on Wednesday rejected claims that by meeting with the senators, the President also exerted pressure on those tasked to decide whether Corona was innocent or guilty.

“There has never been any debate that impeachment is a political process. It’s a political exercise,” Lacierda said. “But as far as the President is concerned, he was very, very categorical that he asked the senators, the persons he spoke to, to decide the case on the merits.”

Lacierda acknowledged that Aquino, prior to the clandestine meetings with senators, had been openly campaigning for the removal of Corona.

“It was no secret. It is common knowledge what the President’s position was on the issue of the Chief Justice, so that was public knowledge,” he said.

Unethical

Corona was eventually ousted after 20 senator-judges found him guilty. Only Senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Joker Arroyo and Ferdinand Marcos Jr. voted for his acquittal.

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad earlier admitted that a total of P1.107 billion had been released to 20 senators through the “Disbursement Acceleration Program,” a few months after they voted to convict Corona.

But he insisted that the amounts were not intended to bribe the senator-judges.

“It is unethical,” Manila Auxillary Bishop Broderick Pabillo said on Wednesday of the meetings Aquino had with the senators.

“I’m not sure if what they say the President did was an impeachable offense. But what is wrong is there is no separation of powers between the two independent branches of government,” Pabillo told reporters.

But he lamented that if Revilla “has sincere concerns for the people, he could have spilled the beans even before.”

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate said if it was wrong for then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to call a poll commissioner to ask about her lead during the 2004 presidential election in the “Hello Garci” scandal, it should also be wrong for President Aquino to talk to the senator-judges while the impeachment trial was ongoing.

“The President should be observing a higher standard,” he told reporters.—With reports from Leila B. Salaveeria and Niña Calleja
 Originally posted at 08:01 pm | Wednesday, January 22, 2014

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TAGS: Benigno Aquino III, Impeachment, Politics, Pork barrel, pork barrel scam, Ramon Revilla Jr., Renato Corona, Senate, Skyway Stage 3
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