Akbayan doesn’t control me, says PNoy
President Aquino attends the Congress of Akbayan, whose leader was singled out by Chief Justice Renato Corona in his testimony before the impeachment court

MANILA, Philippines – Three days after Chief Justice Renato Corona accused a leftist party and its leader of controlling President Benigno Aquino III, the President attended its 5th congress, bantered with its members, and thanked them for supporting his government’s reform agenda.

In a keynote speech at the Akbayan’s 5th regular congress, the President denied Corona’s claim that he was being controlled by Akbayan. He also referred to it as a “socialist,” not a “communist group.”

In his testimony on Tuesday, May 22, Corona singled out former Akbayan president Ronald Llamas, who is now the President’s political adviser, as a party to a leftist conspiracy to remove him as chief justice.

Llamas and his comrades (Corona described them as Llamas’ kakosa in his testimony) of holding Aquino by the neck.

The President stressed that he does not control Akbayan, nor does Akbayan control him. He thanked the party for supporting his reform agenda, but also acknowledged that they disagree with each other on other issues.

A day before the Akbayan congress, Commission on Human Rights chair Etta Rosales, a key Akbayan leader, criticized the military for proclaiming it committed “zero” human rights abuses and complained about her difficulty in getting its full cooperation.

A party-list organization, Akbayan coalesced with the Liberal Party in the 2010 presidential race to support Aquino’s candidacy. Akbayan was formed by leftist leaders and organizations under the Bukluran sa Ikauunlad ng Sosyalistang Isip at Gawa, or Bisig, which was set up after the fall of the Marcos dictatorship by the likes of former UP President Francisco Nemenzo, Inquirer columnist Randy David, and Llamas.

Former Akbayan Rep Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel ran for the Senate under Aquino’s  coalition in 2010 but lost. She will run again under the same coalition and for the same position in 2013.

Baraquel was among the complainants in a forfeiture case filed against Corona before the office of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales.

The complaint prompted Morales to investigate allegations of unexplained wealth against the Chief Justice. This led to her discovery of his dollar accounts, which was the subject of her testimony before the impeachment court last week and the trigger for Corona’s decision to also appear before the court. 

Baraquel denied they conspired with Aquino to remove Corona from the High Tribunal. She said that while her group asked the Ombudsman to probe Corona’s wealth, it was the Ombudsman who discovered his dollar accounts. 

“In short, you were caught. It’s not called conspiracy, instead it’s accountability,” she said. –, with reports from Reynaldo Santos Jr

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