MANILA, Philippines (May 21 2012) - A day ahead of the much anticiparted testimony of Chief Justice Renato Corona before the impeachment trial court, President Benigno Aquino III met Monday morning with Iglesia Ni Cristo leader Eduardo Manalo and one of the issues they discussed was the impeachment interposed with the President's reform agenda.
"It was discussed because it was one of the burning issues of the day. [President Aquino} explained the reasons for the impeachment that it was part of his reform agenda," Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda announced this morning at a press conference in Malacañang.
Lacierda explained that Aquino's meeting with Manalo was not disclosed to the media because it was one of the chief executive's "private meetings."
A newspaper had reported the meeting over the weekend. There were reports that the religious group is lobbying for the acquittal of Corona in the impeachment trial.
Lacierda said that Corona's impeachment case was only briefly discussed during the meeting and that its main purpose was for Aquino to "touch base" with his supporters.
He added that Malacañang has been trying to arrange a meeting between Aquino and Manalo since before the Holy Week.
"The schedule was before the Holy Week. It was only today (Monday, May 21, 2012) that they were able to find a common schedule. [The main purpose of the meeting] was to touch base with Ka Eduardo. INC supported the president's senatorial and presidential campaigns," Lacierda explained.
He said that Aquino has been trying to touch base with other groups and personalities who supported his senatorial and presidential campaigns.
The meeting between Aquino and Manalo came a day of Corona's most anticipated appearance in his own impeachment trial at the Senate.
Corona is expected to explain before senator-judges the alleged 82 dollar bank accounts that he maintained from 2003 to 2011.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales testified last week that Corona's dollar accounts contained as much as $12 million and that he had made "significant withdrawals" during significant dates, including during an election period and the week that he was impeached by the House of Representatives.
Corona's defense lawyers had said that the chief justice only had three to four dollar deposits. They are confident that Corona will be able to answer questions on his bank account and statement of assets, liabilities and networth. (From Philstar.com)