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Bong Revilla: PNoy personally asked me to convict Corona

(Updated 9:07 p.m.) Complete with a PowerPoint presentation, Senator Ramon Bong Revilla delivered a scathing privilege speech Monday where he claimed that President Benigno Aquino III had personally asked him to vote to convict former Chief Justice Renato Corona in 2012.

In the speech denying his involvement in the alleged pork barrel scam, Revilla said no less than Interior Secretary Mar Roxas—whom he called “Boy Pick-Up”—drove him from Cubao in Quezon City to Aquino's residence, Bahay Pangarap at the Malacañang complex, for a meeting when Corona's impeachment trial at the Senate was about to conclude.

He said it was the first time he set foot at Bahay Pangarap.

Revilla, who voted to convict Corona, claimed Aquino told him over breakfast, “Pare, parang awa mo na. Ibalato mo na sa akin ito. Kailangan siya [Corona] ma-impeach.”

“Tama po ba na habang nililitis ang dating Chief Justice na si Renato Corona ay kailangan makialam ang mismong Pangulo ng Republika sa isang prosesong legal na dapat ay independyente?” Revilla asked.

He added that the Palace is already forming a “habit” of meddling with affairs of other branches of government. He also blasted Aquino for too much politicking.

In a press conference after Revilla's speech, Presidential Communications Operations Office head Herminio Coloma Jr. confirmed that Aquino did meet with Revilla on that occasion, but denied that the President asked Revilla to vote for Corona's conviction.

Roxas also admitted driving Revilla to Malacañang, but said he did it as a favor. He also said it was normal for the President to meet with senators and other high-ranking government officials.

In May 2012, 20 senators, including Revilla, voted to convict Corona for betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the Constitution.

Before the conviction, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said Aquino “has the right to express his position on certain things that involve the nation.

Revilla is currently facing a plunder complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman for allegedly pocketing the biggest kickbacks from the alleged pork barrel scam amounting to P224.5 million.

Mar, Butch Abad too

Revilla, during his privilege speech, likewise said Roxas and Budget Secretary Florencio Abad also tried to convince him to oust Corona during the breakfast meeting.

“Bumangka si Secretary Mar tungkol sa mga dahilan kung bakit dapat ma-impeach si dating Chief Justice Corona... Sabay sunod naman si Secretary Butch Abad, 'Magtulungan tayo, Senator',” he said.

Revilla also presented a picture of a plate number, which he claimed was owned and concealed by Roxas, to support his allegation that the Cabinet secretary himself drove him to the Palace complex.

Revilla said he just told the President after the meeting that he “will do what is right.”

The senator added that Roxas, whose name is being floated as the Liberal Party's standard-bearer for the 2016 elections, hurriedly left Malacañang after the meeting to “pick up” other people.

Last September, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, who is also being implicated in the pork barrel scam, revealed that he and some of his colleagues received an additional P50 million in discretionary funds after voting to convict Corona.

Abad later admitted that the amounts were indeed allocated to the senators from the Disbursement Acceleration Program. Malacañang, however, insisted that these were not meant to bribe senators into convicting Corona. — with Kimberly Jane Tan/KBK/BM, GMA News