MANILA -- Senate President Franklin Drilon said the alleged move of the President to influence senator-judges during the impeachment trial of then Chief Justice Renato Corona, if true, is not at all an impeachable offense.
"Of course not, it's not impeachable. It's all part of politics," Drilon said in an ambush interview with Senate media on Tuesday.
Drilon said he does not know the circumstances behind the meeting but based on what President Benigno Aquino III said, there was no truth to the claim of Senator Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr.
"Sinasabi ng Pangulo, hindi siya nakialam at may nabalitaan siyang sector na nangangampanya to judge the former Chief Justice other than the evidence presented. For me it was to make sure that the decision is based on the evidence," Drilon said.
"Senator Revilla said he decided based on what he believed was right. That will serve as a confirmation that he only did what was right," he added.
Drilon also maintained that the President would not go as far as influencing solons to favor him on certain issues.
"Of course not, that is not correct. It is not true. Ang totoo ay sinasabi ni Presidente na kinausap niya dahil marami siyang naririnig na may ibang sector na kumakausap sa mga senador upang magpasya hindi dahil doon sa ebidensya," he said.
During his privilege speech on Monday, Revilla accused the President of interfering in the impeachment of Corona, revealing that he had a secret meeting with Aquino, Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas and Budget Secretary Butch Abad in Malacañang before Corona's ouster.
Revilla said he felt pressured by the President but that he made no promises. "I will do what is right. Kailangan manindigan sa tama at gagawin ko ang tama para sa bayan," he allegedly told Aquino.
The President, for his part, said he just wanted to ensure that Revilla and the other senators would decide on the merits of the case, noting that there were reports of pressure from influence groups during the impeachment trial.
"What I was trying to do was basically ensure that they decide on the case on the merits of the case rather than any other outside factor. I was trying to lessen the pressure on all of them," Aquino said.