Aquino secret meeting with Revilla not illegal, say 2 senators
MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino’s alleged secret meeting with a member of the Senate to discuss the impeachment of then Chief Justice Renato Corona is not an impeachable offense, Senator Franklin Drilon said on Tuesday.
“Of course not. It’s not impeachable. That’s all part of politics…,” Drilon told reporters when sought to react to Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr.’s accusation that the President had interfered in the Corona impeachment.
In a privilege speech Monday, Revilla claimed that he had met with the President, who supposedly told him that Corona should be impeached. Revilla was among the 20 senators who voted to convict the former Chief Justice in 2012.
Drilon, a known ally of the President, noted Malacañang’s admission that Aquino had indeed met with Revilla but not to influence him but to verify reports that there were sectors asking senators then to vote on Corona “on the basis other than the evidence presented in the impeachment trial.”
“So what the President did was to make sure that the decision is made based on the evidence and Senator Revilla said that he decided on what he believed was right so that’s a confirmation of what he did – that he only did what was right,” the Senate leader said.
Unlike Revilla, Drilon said, he did not get an invitation from the President during the impeachment trial of Corona.
“Hindi ako isinama. I didn’t even know about that meeting,” he said.
Asked if the Liberal Party was affected by Revilla’s revelation, Drilon said: “No, we’re not affected by that.”
Aquino, Drilon, and two other Cabinet members mentioned in Revilla’s speech— Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II and Budget Secretary Florencio Abad – are all LP members.
Senator Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes IV, a member of the majority bloc in the Senate, also said there was nothing illegal if Aquino had indeed tried to influence the results of the impeachment.
“Right from the start, I have stressed that the impeachment trial is more political than legal. Hence, the influence of the President, whether tacitly or explicitly given, should be expected and it is not illegal for him to do so,” Trillanes said in a text message.
Like Drilon, Senator Serge Osmeña III said he was not also invited to a meeting by the President during Corona’s trial.
“No. I am not important” Osmeña, another administration ally, said in a separate text message. Asked to react to Revilla’s claim that the President had intervened in Corona’s impeachment, Osmeña said: “PNOY (Aquino) claims he did not.”
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