MANILA, FEBRUARY 16, 2012 (ABS-CBN) President Benigno Aquino III’s continued insistence to dip his finger in the trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona may just turn out to be his fall, according to former senator Ernesto Maceda (photo at left).

In an interview with ANC, Maceda said Aquino is handling the situation “very badly…he’s now putting himself squarely on the line to a point where it could be said rightly: If he loses this case, then he personally loses, and his leadership weakens…”

He said that if Aquino’s allies manage a Corona ouster, “he [will now] control the Supreme Court, the Senate, the House. It will expose him to grave temptations of being authoritarian if not a dictator, to say the least.”

He said Aquino’s government has been consistent in making statements day in and day out about the trial, to the detriment of the whole well-being of the country and the economy.

He added: “Considering the immaturity he is showing these days, it would be very dangerous for an immature person to have so much power.”

PNoy far from being a dictator: Palace

Malacañang refuted Maceda's statement that President Aquino is showing signs of becoming a dictator in his alleged insistence to control Congress and the judiciary.

“The last thing that people will believe about our President is that he is a dictator. Very far from it,” Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said when asked for comment.

“The President continues to do the work of governance. While he does from time to time gets to see parts of the impeachment, he does not monitor it obsessively as some people would like to propagate and in fact the President continues to do his work,” she added.

13-10 votes

Maceda, who was also United States ambassador during the time of President Joseph Estrada, also said in the interview he does not see a “mistrial” as claimed by Aquino’s allies in the Senate.

Senator-judge Serge Osmeña said the Corona defense team is setting the stage for a mistrial by claiming that Malacanang tried to bribe some of his colleagues in exchange for snubbing a Supreme Court-issued halt order on the opening of alleged dollar accounts.

Maceda said a “mistrial” is unlikely. He said the impeachment court, led by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, will see the trial to its finish.

He also noted the 13-10 vote by senator-judges to respect the SC halt order as indicative of things.

Besides avoiding a constitutional crisis, a lot of senators stood by Enrile. “Remember there is a real attempt to oust him,” he said.

The voting also showed the “leanings” of each senator-judge, he said. “Assuming the 10 are solid [for the ouster]…the prosecution still lacks six.”

The 13 senator-judges who voted to respect the SC temporary restraining order (TRO) are: Joker Arroyo, Miriam Santiago, Manny Villar, Ralph Recto, Francis Escudero, Aquilino Pimentel III, Loren Legarda, Gregorio Honasan, Bong Revilla, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Vicente Sotto III, Jinggoy Estrada, and Enrile himself.

The 10 senator-judges who voted otherwise are: Franklin Drilon, Alan Cayetano, Serge Osmeña, Edgardo Angara, Panfilo Lacson, Pia Cayetano, Francis Pangilinan, Antonio Trillanes, Lito Lapid, and TG Guingona.

Surprise, confirmation

Manny Villar’s vote is already telling, Maceda said. “There is sufficient ground that he is leaning towards an acquittal.”

The surprise in the 13 is Recto, he said. Maceda said, however, that “Recto is deep into Batangas politics [because of wife Vilma].”

The Coronas hail from Batangas. “You know the Batangueños, they close their ranks if fellow Batangueño is [being attacked].”


Maceda said the defense’s accusation is only a “maneuvering” of sorts.

He said “the senators were forced to make denials, but then it’s up to the public to take a position whether to believe or not.”

The same can be said for the supplemental motion of the defense before the SC, where they named Osmeña, Drilon, Guingona, Alan Cayetano and Pangilinan as helping the prosecution.

“The partiality is there, you can’t deny that, basically all are Liberal Party members. It goes without saying that they will support the President and his stance.”

He said the defense motion “is a maneuver to put a leash on senators who are ‘leaning’ [towards the prosecution].” -- with a report from Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News


GRACE LEE SEES SELF MARRYING PNoy By Ellen Tordesillas Philippine Daily Inquirer

The altar. That’s where Grace Lee says her relationship with President Benigno Aquino III is headed.

In her morning show, “Good Times in the Morning,” on Wednesday, the Korean-born radio and TV personality was asked by her New York-based coanchor, Mo Twister, how long their relationship would last.

She replied, “The full length.”

Needled further on where she expected their dates would lead to, Lee answered, “The altar.” She added, “I’m praying for this.”

Mr. Aquino celebrated his birthday on Wednesday, Feb. 8, the same day Lee said they were destined for the altar.

Malacañang was mum on Lee’s latest statements. “We do not comment on the President’s private life,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said on Saturday.


The romance between the 29-year-old Lee and the 52-year-old Mr. Aquino has been met with skepticism by many who have become used to the President’s short-lived romances.

Among those linked to him in his almost two-year presidency were Valenzuela Councilor Shalani Soledad, who recently married Pasig City Rep. Roman Romulo, stylist Liz Uy, stockbroker Len Lopez and teacher Bunny Calica.

During the program, Mo Twister predicted the relationship to last until August.

He then opened the phone lines to the question, “How long will this (Aquino-Lee) relationship last?” One listener replied, “May.”

Media interviews

The bachelor President admitted two weeks ago that he had been dating Lee.

While Mr. Aquino asked media to grant him the privacy that, he said, he was entitled to, Lee was forthcoming in media interviews. She disclosed that she and the President would talk animatedly for three to five hours.

“He’s brilliant. He is the most intelligent man I’ve met in my life,” an obviously smitten Lee enthused, even describing the President as “a walking encyclopedia.”

Lee revealed in an off-camera talk with a TV host that the President had offered to provide her security, courtesy of a team from the Presidential Security Group (PSG). This prompted presidential deputy spokesperson Abigail Valte to say that the Palace would still have to review whether the PSG mandate could cover even persons outside the President’s official family.

Lee’s talent manager, Arnold Vegafria, said the radio and TV jockey first met the President on June 27, 2011, at the inauguration of a plant of Korea Electric Power Corp. in Barangay Colon in Naga, Cebu. Vegafria said the President was heard to have remarked that Lee was guapa (pretty), mistaking her to be a Cebuana.

Their second meeting took place during the state visit of Korean President Lee Myung-bak in November, where Lee was in Malacañang as an interpreter and host of the event.

Palace interview

Before the end of 2011, Vegafria said the President granted Lee an interview in Malacañang for her radio show. “And that’s it,” he said.

In an earlier exclusive interview with TV5’s Luchi Cruz-Valdes for the show “Journo,” Lee admitted that the 22-year age difference between them sometimes bothered her. “But the more I get to know him, the less I feel the age difference,” she said.

Asked by Cruz-Valdes if she saw the relationship “pushing through already,” Lee replied, “I don’t think we’re playing around. We’re both not at the age to be playing around.”

In her radio show, Lee said she would try to convince the President to stop smoking.

She has met with two of the President’s elder sisters, Ballsy Cruz and Pinky Abellada, but has yet to meet his movie-and-TV-star sister, Kris Aquino.

Lee denied earlier rumors linking her romantically to Kris’ former husband, basketball star James Yap. With a report from Christine O. Avendaño

(Editor’s Note: VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. “Vera” is Latin for true.)


VERA files: Grace Lee didn't hint at marriage to PNoy Posted at 02/13/2012 12:33 PM | Updated as of 02/13/2012 4:59 PM

[PHOTO - Korean TV personality Grace Lee is surrounded by members of the press in an event organized by a cosmetics company. Photo by Ricky Bautista for]

MANILA, Philippines - (UPDATED) VERA Files issued a statement on Monday hours after Korean television and radio personality Grace Lee cried foul over one of its reports, which quoted her as saying that she sees herself marrying President Benigno Aquino III.

Citing interviews conducted by the article's author, Ellen Tordesillas, via phone and text message, VERA Files acknowledged that it was Lee's co-anchor, DJ Suzy, who said that the relationship between the two was headed for the altar.

"The only points about your article I want to clarify is that I never uttered the words 'altar' or anything that might hint to desiring marriage," Lee told Tordesillas.

The 29-year-old Korean also denied saying "I'm praying for this" regarding her blossoming relationship with the President. "What I said is that I pray everything will go well," she said.

VERA Files said Tordesillas got the quotes in her story from Lee's radio show on February 8, Aquino's 52nd birthday.

"She was listening to the program at the time," VERA Files said.

Earlier today, Lee demanded an apology from Tordesillas over the report, which she called "an article of lies to sensationalize one's private life."

"I have never said anything remotely close to what her write up says I did. I believe the public deserves an apology from her," she said on Twitter.

"Furthermore, I would like to request Ms. Ellen Tordesillas to name the source who claims to have spoken to me regarding the PSG (Presidential Security Group) issue as this is not to be taken lightly," she added.

The article quoted Lee as saying in her radio program that she is "praying" that her dates with Aquino would lead to "the altar."

It also mentioned that Lee and the President "would talk animatedly for three to five hours."

Lee has already denied that she is asking for her own PSG detail, or that Aquino wants her to have one.

"I have never asked for PSG and no PSG has been offered to me by anyone," she said in an interview last week. "The President never offered me PSG and no one around him offered me any type of security. First of all, there's no reason to give me security."

Lee also reiterated that she is not using Aquino to be famous.

Aquino, 52, earlier admitted that he is seeing Lee, who has already been introduced to the President's family.

Lee has hinted that Aquino has a big chance of winning her heart, saying: "I think he's in the forefront. He's first in the line."

No Grace Lee, no date for birthday boy President By: Bayani San Diego Jr. Philippine Daily Inquirer February 9, 2012 | 1:57 am

[PHOTO - Grace Lee. From:]

Radio and television personality Grace Lee did not get to hang out with her rumored suitor on his 52nd birthday Wednesday.

“I greeted him, but as we all know, he had to fly to the Visayas to visit the victims of the earthquake,” she said.

“I understand. He belongs to the people first,” Lee said.

President Benigno Aquino III spent his birthday Wednesday visiting victims of the deadly quake that rocked Negros and Cebu on Monday and inspecting damaged areas.

Asked what she gave Mr. Aquino for a birthday present, she giggled and demurred: “I don’t know yet.”

In spite of the undue media interest, Lee insisted that dating Mr. Aquino has not really turned her world topsy-turvy.

“My life hasn’t changed much,” she said in an interview Wednesday.

“Aside from all the attention, I still have a normal life. I still have the same job. I still have the same set of friends,” she said.

The only difference is that the Korea-born Lee is dating a head of state and, with it, comes certain realities, she said.

She also declined to divulge whether they would have time for a date after his Visayan trip. She explained that she couldn’t go into details because dating the President comes with various limitations.

Lee said she was busy with work Wednesday, which marked her official launch as endorser of a local beauty product, Ever Bilena.

If not on Mr. Aquino’s birthday, would they be able to go on a romantic date on Valentine’s Day next week?

She wasn’t too forthcoming either and stressed that everything is still up in the air.

Dating a President

She has come to accept that you cannot “plan too far ahead” if you’re dating the President.

“I cannot make plans because the President’s schedule is unpredictable. We don’t know what will happen tomorrow,” she said.

Since she’s also from media (as news presenter on GMA News TV’s “Balitanghali” and “24 Oras Weekend”), she said that she understands and respects her colleagues’ job and need to report and “satisfy the public’s curiosity.”

“I’m learning a lot, too. I’m seeing a new side to this industry,” she said.

As a result, she tries to be more careful now, especially since she’s been criticized for being too “open” and chatty—not just by the press but purportedly even by people close to the President, according to one source.

“I know that criticisms are inevitable. I’d like to appeal to viewers to be more discerning and sensitive. Unless they see me saying it on TV, they shouldn’t accept anything they hear or read at face value,” Lee said.

She took pains to explain that she “didn’t grant interviews left and right.”

“I only gave four interviews and these were cut, spliced and aired on different shows on all three networks, giving the impression that I’ve been all over town,” she said.


Being misquoted is an inevitability, too.

Case in point: She asserted that Malcañang never offered to provide her with personal security.

“I was just asked by a reporter if I was scared (about possible security risks)… and I answered that if he felt I needed a bodyguard and then he would ask me about it,” she recounted.

“Just to clarify, the President never offered me any type of security,” she said.

Her family has also learned to cope with the scrutiny. “Once, a reporter suddenly showed up at my mom’s grocery store. So she pretended to be a customer and escaped through the backdoor.”

Generally, her family has been shielded from all the fuss and frenzy so far. “I’m not too worried about them because they have their own world in the Korean community. I know my mom would be able to handle it well.”

Now that she is in the middle of this media circus, she has grown a tad wiser, she remarked.

“I thought I knew what I was getting into, but then I wasn’t fully aware. I didn’t expect the magnitude (of the media attention). So we just take it one step at a time,” she said.

She recalled that GMA 7 anchor Pia Arcanghel, who works with Lee on “Balitanghali,” had given her a DVD of “The American President,” a 1995 Hollywood movie that starred Michael Douglas as a bachelor politician who fell for a lobbyist played by Annette Bening.

“I’m looking forward to watching it,” she said.

The House minority meanwhile asked Mr. Aquino to come out with more “meaningful comments” and not just flirt with Lee.

“But I think the President is entitled to his private life and considering that he is a bachelor it is high time that he get married so at least we have a First Lady,” said House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez. With reports from Jocelyn R. Uy and Gil Cabacungan


PNoy gifts newlyweds Shalani and Roman with wine glasses By ROWENA JOY A. SANCHEZ February 14, 2012, 9:29am

[PHOTO - PNoy says Shalani and Roman are ‘right’ for each other (Photo from]

MANILA, Philippines – Although he was a no-show at their wedding, President Noynoy Aquino has gifted his ex-girlfriend Shalani Soledad and her now-husband Rep. Roman Romulo with eight wine glasses.

The number eight is perceived not only as a lucky number but also a romantic one. Nevertheless, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte deemed that the number of wine glasses that the newlywed couple received from PNoy was coincidental.

“Normally set po kasi ‘yun talaga eh. Mayroon pong pagpipilian usually—parang for a set of four, set of eight, or set of 12... So tingin ko, wala naman po sigurong significance… Baka ‘yun lang din po ‘yung napili talaga na number,” she said in a recent radio interview.

Spokesperson Valte then seemingly suggested the usefulness of the eight wine glasses.

“Just in case, baka naman may mga guests sila—‘yung bagong mag-asawa—when they entertain…” she said.

In early January, the chief executive related that his staff had brought the gift for Shalani and Roman.

The couple invited PNoy to their wedding, which was held last Jan. 22 at the St. Benedict Church in Sta. Rosa, Laguna. The president is believed to have gone to Baguio City that day.

Asked if PNoy’s absence at the Roman-Shalani nuptials was intentional, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda admitted in an interview last month that he’s clueless.

“I wouldn’t know the schedule of the President over the weekend…” he was quoted to have said.

In spite of his high-profile split with the pretty Valenzuela councilor in late 2010, PNoy wished Shalani and Roman well in their journey together as husband and wife. He also related in a previous interview that the two are “right” for each other.

Shalani and Roman spent their honeymoon in Rome, Italy.

PNoy is currently dating Korean TV and radio personality Grace Lee.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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