Senators: Nothing wrong if INC lobbying for Corona

Sen Edgardo Angara says the reported INC lobby with senators for a Corona acquittal is part of democracy

'NORMAL INTERACTION'. Sen Edgardo Angara says there's nothing wrong if the INC is lobbying to acquit Chief Justice Renato Corona.

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Some senator-judges see nothing wrong with reports that the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) is lobbying for the acquittal of Chief Justice Renato Corona.

Senators Edgardo Angara, Bongbong Marcos, and Vicente “Tito” Sotto III said it is normal for groups like the INC to engage in lobbying. None of them, however, said they have been approached by the religious group. They were reacting to an Inquirer report that the INC is meeting with some senators to push for Corona’s acquittal. 

In a chance interview on Monday, May 21, Angara refused to confirm or deny if a representative of INC approached him. 

The senator, though, said he is open to listen to the INC in case the group seeks to speak with him about the impeachment trial. He said all sectors, whether religious or non-sectarian, may lobby on either side of the issue. 

“I think there’s absolutely nothing wrong for constituents to talk because this is a representative government. Isn’t that the concept of democracy? The people are represented by representatives and also the people, through their organization, can talk to their representatives,” he said in a mix of English and Filipino. Watch here:

In a separate interview, Marcos echoed Angara’s views. 

“INC members are our friends. If there’s someone who wants to talk to us, it’s just natural for us to listen. Just talking to them is harmless …. But nobody has come to me. The ones from INC I talked to don’t mention the impeachment,” Marcos said in Filipino. 

Marcos added that the INC members may have opinions on the impeachment and they have the right to express that to the senators. 

Sotto agreed. “In a political exercise such as this or an undertaking that is political in nature, lobbying for or against any particular issue is normal. Whether it’s happening or not, I don’t know but if it is indeed happening, that’s normal.” Watch here: 

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile had a one-liner response to questions from reporters. Enrile was named in newspaper reports as one of those the INC approached. 

The Senate President said, “Walang pumupunta sa akin (Nobody is approaching me). I quarantined myself already.” 

‘I prefer no lobbying’ 

Sen Francis Pangilinan also denied that he was approached by an INC representative. He said if possible, he is against any form of lobbying from the INC. 

“I would prefer not to as much as possible. It’s better that we maintain our impartiality, neutrality so that is my position. 

Pangilinan said he is open to meeting groups who want to dialogue with him but it is another matter if that group would attempt to influence his decision. 

PNoy meeting with INC also ‘okay’ 

Senators also said they saw nothing wrong with President Benigno Aquino III’s meeting with INC leader Eduardo “Eddie” Manalo on the eve of Corona’s testimony. 

“That’s part of the normal interaction between politicians and constituents,” said Angara. 

Likewise, Marcos said the meeting should not be taken against Aquino. He said during the time of his father, President Ferdinand Marcos, he also met with INC leaders. 

“The Iglesia comprises a very significant percentage of [the population] and a very solic [bloc] and as we all know, a well-regarded organization so it is natural for the President to go and to speak and to consult and to talk about all these things and about anything. Again, it’s perfectly normal.” – Rappler.com