Bares how Mar urged him to vote vs Corona
INTERIOR Secretary Manuel Roxas III, who was mocked Tuesday as “Boy Pick-up’ for driving Senator Ramon Revilla Jr. to a clandestine meeting with President Benigno Aquino III at the height of the 2012 impeachment trial of former Chief Justice Renato Corona, also drove Senator Jinggoy Estrada to the presidential residence, Estrada said Wednesday.
But Estrada said it was Roxas who appealed to him to convict Corona while they were having breakfast with President Aquino and Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, whom he called “Boy Miron.”
Abad was also present when Revilla met the President in Bahay Pangarap, Mr. Aquino’s official residence.
Estrada said during the meeting, the President served breakfast.
“The President just sat down and listened to what Secretary Mar Roxas was saying. In fairness to President Aquino he did not even utter a word regarding the impeachment case against former Chief Justice Renato Corona,” said Estrada.
Asked if he felt any pressure as the President was there, Estrada said: “If you are facing the President, you are always pressured.”
Estrada said he was not protecting the President but merely telling the truth.
“The President was eating, I was eating. It was Secretary Mar Roxas who’s talking about the impeachment trial. I kept mum. I kept silent all trhoughout. The President never approached me until I left,” he said.
Estrada said he told Roxas he would vote based on the evidence.
In September last year, when Senate Minority Leader questioned him, Estrada said nobody persuaded or convinced him to convict Corona.
Estrada’s privilege speech last year revealed, however, that lawmakers who voted to impeach or convict Corona received extra pork barrel through the administration’s Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
But Estrada on Wednesday said there was no mention of the projects to be funded through the extra pork barrel.
Also on Wednesday, a leftist lawmaker said President Aquino should apologize for meeting with the senator-judges at the height of the impeachment trial.
Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate, at a news conference, said the meetings were tinged with impropriety, and that he should apologize as former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo did when she gave her “I am sorry” speech in 2004.
Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares added that Aquino sullied the victory of the prosecution by meeting secretly with the senator-judges.
He added that the case against Corona was strong enough without the President’s interference.
Earlier, President Aquino admitted that the meeting took place but denied he tried to convince Revilla to support the impeachment of Corona.
He also admitted meeting with Senators Ralph Recto, Teofisto Guingona III and Estrada.
Revilla on Wednesday said the recent claim of whistleblower Benhur Luy that his father had been involved with the alleged pork barrel queen Janet Lim Napoles proved the the Palace was out to destroy him and his family.
“Why did he talk about it only now? Why only now? They involved me, my son Bryan, and then my father. Later, they might also involve my grandchildren,” Revilla said.
“It is very sad. Why [involve] my father who is already wheel-chair bound? What they’re doing is offensive,” he added.
Luy, the principal whistle blower in the pork barrel scam, said this week that the elder Revilla was one of the earlier clients of Napoles.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said her department would study the new accusations from Luy.
In an interview with reporters, Revilla, who is facing plunder charges along with Napoles, Estrada and Enrile, said they no longer allow his father to read newspapers or watch or listen to the news.
The ailing patriarch of the Revilla suffered a stroke that caused him to become wheelchair-bound.
Despite the recent revelations, Corona remained quiet.
But Dean Judd Roy, who served as member of the Corona defense panel during the impeachment trial, said what President Aquino did – based on Revilla’s account – could be impeachable.
Roy noted that the senator’s account only corroborated what he had been saying throughout the impeachment proceedings: that there was collusion and bribery of the senators sitting as judges.
Although he is no longer Corona’s counsel, Roy said that, if asked, he would advise the former Chief magistrate to do nothing at this point, and let all the evidence come out, which could prove that his impeachment was null and void.
He said Corona could go to the Supreme Court and have his impeachment declared null and void – an opinion similar to that of Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago. – With Maricel V. Cruz and Rey E. Requejo