Bares Aquino’s pressure in secret Cubao meeting
SENATOR Ramon Revilla Jr. on Monday denied stealing millions in public funds and revealed that President Benigno Aquino III had pressured him to vote to convict Chief Justice Renato Corona last year in a clandestine meeting set up by Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II.
“Pare, parang awa mo na, ibalato mo na sa akin ito. Kailangan siya ma-impeach (Please grant me this, my friend. I really need him to be impeached),” Revilla quoted the President as telling him during a meeting that included Roxas and Budget Secretary Florencio Abad.
“Let’s help each other,” Abad was said to have added.
In a privilege speech, Revilla also denied charges that he had misappropriated millions of pesos in pork barrel, saying that his signatures on documents held by the government as evidence were forgeries.
In a press conference hours after the Senate address, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said the President never asked Revilla to grant him a favor, but confirmed that they had met.
“The President met with Senator Revilla to verify persistent reports that senators are being influenced by some interest groups. He asked the senator to decide the case on the basis of its merits,” Coloma said.
“There was no such statement (ibalato mo na). That is nowhere near the reality,” Coloma added.
Coloma said he did not know why Revilla was chosen for the meeting, or if any other senators were called at the height of the Corona impeachment trial.
He said the Palace would be releasing more information on the meeting soon, and that Roxas would issue a separate statement.
In his speech, Revilla mocked Roxas as “Boy Pick-up” and showed photos he took with his phone showing the No. 6 license plate tucked into the sun visor of the car.
“That’s the plate number of the car which the owner (Roxas) removed and inserted in his sun visor. That No. 6 belongs to a Cabinet secretary,” he said.
He recalled Roxas inviting him to his house in Cubao, Quezon City, where he was asked to leave his companions in his car, and transfer to the secretary’s car.
He said Roxas also directed one of his companions to remove the license plate of his car, then asked Revilla to sit in the back.
As they were about to enter Bahay Pangarap, Roxas peeped out so that the guard could see him.
Fifteen minutes later, he said, Abad arrived, followed by the President.
Revilla said Roxas explained to him why Corona should be impeached, just before the President surprised him with his appeal.
Revilla said he was stunned, since the President was telling him what to do.
“Mr. President, I will do what is right. I believe I should stand for what is right and I will do what is right for the country,” was the reply he said he gave.
After that, he rode again with Roxas and dropped him off in a restaurant outside Malacanang. He said Roxas was in a hurry, because he had to pick up somebody else.
Revilla repeatedly mocked Aquino’s “Tuwid na Daan” (straight path) during his speech.
Whie he was being slowly skinned to death with plunder charges before the Ombudsman, Revilla said, his burdens were light compared to the abandonment suffered by the victims and survivors of super typhoon Yolanda.
“Being accused of a crime which you did not do is still lighter than being told “Bahala ka sa buhay mo,” and let them die of thirst, starvation and lack of help for our countrymen in Tacloban City,” Revilla said, recalling the words that Roxas had told Tacloban City Mayor Alfredo Romualdez when he refused to sign a document turning full control of the city to the national government.
“Is that the right path? When a businessman from Tacloban sought help when he was shot with a gun due to looting after Yolanda, the President told him, “Buhay ka naman ah! (You’re still alive, aren’t you?) Was that the right path?” Revilla said.
Revilla blamed the massive poverty on the blatant negligence and failure of President Aquino to render genuine public service.
He also blamed the huge problem on electricity and energy to government negligence.
As early as 2011, there were warnings of an impending power crisis, but until now, the government has taken no concrete action, Revilla said.
“When they increased the price of electricity, Malacañang justified it. Was that the right path?” Revilla said.
In his litany against the administration, Revilla said the assassins who killed a mayor at the national airport in broad daylight were still on the loose.
He also asked what had been done to help the victims of the earthquake in Bohol and the crisis in Zamboanga City.
Revilla also slammed the government for planning to raise fares on light rail transit services, and premiums for the Social Security System and the Philippine Health Insurance Corp.
He scored the government’s failure to produce a list of programs funded through the controversial Disbursement Allotment Program, and the list of Conditional Cash Transfer beneficiaries that included bogus recipients.
Revilla also cited a recent public opinion poll that showed that the number of respondents who personally experienced corruption had risen to 56 percent, while 42 percent said they needed to give grease money to get a contract in the government.
Revilla again scored Roxas for bailing out Comelec Commissioner Grace Padaca when she was facing corruption charges.
“Is that the kind of justice we have? If the accused is a party mate, the President will give him money for bail. But if he belongs to an opposing party, he will be destroyed [by] hearsay and fabricated evidence,” Revilla said.
Revilla denied that he channelled his pork barrel to fake non-government organizations set up by Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged mastermind of the P10-billion pork barrel scam.. He said all his signatures were forged, which substantiated the testimony of principal whistleblower Benhur Luy that he faked the signatures on some documents.
Revilla insisted he had no transactions or dealings with the whistleblowers or Napoles.
He said the person identified by the whistleblowers as his bagman, Richard Cambe, had never been his chief of staff or chief political officer.
“I owe the almost 16 million who voted for me in 2004 and the almost 20 million who backed my candidacy in 2010, to come out with my answer and put an end to this,” said Revilla. He came out in the open because he does not want to suffer the fate of Corona, but he has already accepted whatever fate has in store for him.
“I have already accepted this political persecution and I will face whatever comes next,” he said.
He disputed the claims of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima that there was a truckload of evidence against him and his co-accused, Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile and Senator Jinggoy Estrada. He mocked De Lima by producing a toy truck loaded with documentary evidence.
Revilla’s father, in a wheel chair, broke into tears when his son turned to him and said he was fighting for their honor and dignity.
A former senator, Revilla Sr. sat in front of the VIP gallery, together with other family members.
Sought for comment, the elder Revilla said it never occurred to him that this thing would happen to his son and their family. With Joyce Pañares
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