Is Malacanang so desperate that it asked one of its most trusted generals to pressure the Iglesia Ni Cristo to ask former Justice Serafin Cuevas to drop the Chief Justice as his client in the impeachment case?
A Manila Times report today says that Presidential adviser on Political affairs Ronald Llamas reportedly met with one of the church spiritual leaders, named Erano Codera and ask him to mediate between him (Llamas) and Cuevas on the issue of Cuevas' role as defense lead in the impeachment trial.
The 83 year old former Justice refused Codera's request.
This report validated an earlier report by Christian Esguerra of the Philippine Daily Inquirer where Cuevas himself admitted receiving some form of pressure from the palace in relation to the impeachment trial.
In Cuevas' revelation, the former justice said that a former student of his at the University of the Philippines in Diliman approached him. The former student asked Cuevas to inhibit himself from the trial. Cuevas refused.
Sources told me that this incident was the second such attempt by Malacanang, the first with Llamas. Llamas was reportedly sent by the palace in an official capacity to convince the Iglesia Ni Cristo leadership to drop their support behind Corona. When Llamas himself failed, another Palace insider asked his classmate, a former student of Cuevas, to intervene.
Sources told this writer that Llamas would possibly be "sacrificed" after his failed "mission". The "sacrifice" is to be done to salvage the grievous injury in the relationship between the INC and the Aquino administration.
The INC supported Aquino during the 2010 elections. Mar Roxas is said to have asked his classmate, a son of former INC head Erano Manalo, to lend its support behind the presidency.
After the elections, several INC members were made officials in the Aquino administration, including Torres as head of the Land Transportation Office (LTO), DENR secretary Ramon Paje and several others. Magtanggol Gatdula, an Arroyo appointee, was allowed to continue his stint as NBI director.
Gatdula has recently been accused of the crime of kidnapping by the Department of Justice. Gatdula has since protested his being "fired" by Malacanang. A team of legal eagles from New Era School of Law have lent their legal expertise to Gatdula.
Sources told this writer that Gatdula has absolutely nothing to do with the kidnapping case. Since his days as a distinguished cop, Gatdula's name has not been involved in any criminal or syndicated activity.
Sources also told me that Malacanang intends to cut short Paje's stint as DENR secretary, and same goes to Torres, who, again according to sources, will be asked to leave the LTO. Her replacement is being readied by the palace.