MANILA - Malacañang believes that criticisms against President Aquino over his meeting with senator-judges during the Corona impeachment trial would not affect his endorsement power in the 2016 elections.
Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said whoever Aquino would anoint or decide to support as his presidential bet would have the edge over the other candidates.
He said that the “unprecedented” and “high” approval ratings of the President indicate that he has the “trust” and “faith of the people.”
“The power of the President’s endorsement is lethal. It is effective and that’s the reason why whoever the President would anoint will certainly have an advantage,” Lacierda said.
“So why are people doing this? There are a number of reasons. If you look at 2016, there may be a number of reasons why people are trying to degrade the approval rating of the President. That’s understandable for those who are not his camp.”
The Palace continues to parry criticisms over Aquino’s meeting with the senator-judges, saying it was not a form of pressure.
Lacierda echoed Aquino’s reason why he decided to meet with a number of them while Corona’s trial was underway, saying it was his way to counter the “pressure” being exerted by “influence groups” on senators not to decide the case based on merits.
He cited “political realities” and that impeachment is a political process.
“I think the statement of the President that he asked, that he requested them to decide on the merits is an assurance for the senator, [as] saying to them ‘I am not exerting pressure on you, I am only asking you to decide the case on the merits,’” Lacierda said.
Despite the meeting, Lacierda said that Aquino respected the principle of separation of powers among the three branches of government.
“He respected that separation. He asked them only insofar [as] when you’re coming to a decision, when your time to make a decision is there, that he asked them only to decide the case on the merits. Nothing more, nothing less,” he said.
Aquino did not ask for anything in return, according to Lacierda.
The Palace also believes that Aquino did not commit any impeachable offense.
Lacierda said he would respect the decision of Cavite Rep. Lani Mercado if ever she files an impeachment complaint against the President.