MANILA, FEBRUARY 21, 2012 (PHILSTAR) By Aurea Calica - Malacañang said yesterday President Aquino was not calling for people power against impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona when he attacked the magistrate and asked his audience to become more vigilant in following the impeachment trial at the Senate.

Aquino spoke before students on Thursday in celebration of the 1986 EDSA people power revolution, and openly lambasted Corona for trying to block and veer away from the issue on the discrepancies between the Chief Justice’s statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALNs) and his actual properties and money in banks.

In a press briefing, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the President laid out clearly in his speech that the spirit of EDSA was people empowerment and the need for the public to be part of change in the country.

“The President felt that with the defense’s tactics, the people are already being excluded,” she said.

She said watching the impeachment trial on a daily basis exposes the citizens to so many legal technicalities and many people were getting confused.

“As the President he felt that he needed to simplify the issues for the rest of the people who are watching the impeachment trial,” Valte said.

She said the President was not actually replying to the earlier tirades of Corona against him.

“In essence, he was asking people to stake a claim. We cannot just be on the sidelines. We cannot just listen. We should cooperate and participate in this important event in our society,” Valte said.

She said it was good that the trial was televised because people could form their own opinions based on the information they were getting first hand.

Valte said the President would want the people to be vigilant in the sense that they should be informed about what was happening despite the technicalities.

“Let’s not get lost in the technicalities. What is being discussed? It was a simplification of what the issue is,” she said.

Defense: No comment

Meanwhile, a member of the defense panel said yesterday that President Aquino was just expressing a personal opinion when he concluded that the SALN and income of Corona do not match.

“We agreed that we will leave the President alone. That was his conclusion, he is entitled to his opinion,” defense counsel Ramon Esguerra told reporters during the weekly Rembrandt news forum in Quezon City.

He said the defense team, out of respect for the Office of the President, will not make any comment or reaction to the remark against the Chief Justice.

“We respect the President and the office he represents,” he said.

Esguerra said they are vigilant against sideshows as this may just be a diversionary tactic.

“We will leave the reaction to the Chief Justice. He has done it before,” he said. – Perseus Echeminada

Aquino: I have no psychological records By Ira Pedrasa, Posted at 02/19/2012 2:28 PM | Updated as of 02/19/2012 4:52 PM

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) - President Benigno Aquino III insisted he does not have any psychological records that would put to question his mental fitness.

On the sidelines of the 33rd founding anniversary of the Aurora province, he said the dare of Chief Justice Renato Corona last week is just a rehash of accusations leveled against him during the May 2010 elections.

“Sa psych records…atake sa atin noong kampanya ‘yan—to produce, open. So, balikan natin…sana sa lahat sa atin na nag-a-ano nito, siguro kung sino man ang sasabihan nang ganoon, hindi maganda,” he said.

He also said he will not shut up in commenting about the trial, saying it is his duty to talk about the public’s sentiments.

“A democracy is the majority deciding for everybody and you cannot decide properly if there is no discourse within the contending sides in any issue. So to keep quiet about the whole thing is, I think, wrong. Time to time, I reserve my right to be able to say what I believe should be said to the people,” he said.

Also in attendance during the founding anniversary were Rep. Sonny Angara, a member of the prosecution panel, and Senator Edgardo Angara, a judge in the trial.

In a statement issued to the media on Friday, Corona challenged Aquino to produce his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth, as well as his bank accounts and psychological records.

“Mayroon po tayong obligasyon na ipakita sa taong-bayan na maayos ang ating pag-iisip,” Corona said in the statement.

He told Aquino: “Ang tungkulin po ninyo ay hanapan ng lunas ang lumalalang kahirapan at pagkagutom ng marami nating mamamayan, walang humpay na pagtaas ng presyo ng gasoline…at mabagal na tugon sa mga nasalanta ng kalamidad…”

Pro-Corona rally

Meanwhile, Aquino brushed off rumors the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) will stage a big rally for Corona on February 28.

He said his government has already talked to INC officials on the matter. He claimed INC had already denied this.

He said many people will take advantage of the situation, especially by spin-doctors.

“Marami talagang pagsasamantala. Eto siguro ay media war at saka spin war, so bakit ho ba tayo kakabahan? Wala ho tayong ginagawang mali,” he said.

In a separate statement, meanwhile, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) warned Aquino of his liabilities if proven that he is indeed meddling in the impeachment trial.

“The Constitution provides that the Senate has the sole power to try and decide impeachment cases. Any act of the President that interferes with the exercise by the Senate of such sole power is arguably a culpable violation of that constitutional provision,” the IBP said in the statement issued through its spokesman and Northern Luzon governor lawyer Dennis Habawel.

Culpable violation of the constitution is an impeachable offense.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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