President Corazon Aquino testified in a libel trial today that her credibility as national leader was damaged by a newspaper column that said she hid under her bed during a 1987 coup attempt.
The president, who has survived seven rebel uprisings in her five years in office, said she supports press freedom. But she said it carries a "very serious responsibility" for truth.
She spoke in nationally televised proceedings during the libel trial of columnist Luis Beltran, publisher Max Soliven and three other executives of the Philippine Star. It was Aquino's first testimony at the trial, which has been in session off and on since February, 1990.
Beltran and Soliven are among the country's most prominent journalists.
Beltran wrote his column in the Philippine Star shortly after rebel soldiers attacked the presidential palace in August, 1987, that Aquino "hid under her bed while firing was going on, perhaps the first commander-in-chief of the armed forces to have to do so."
Beltran later apologized.
Under repeated questioning today from Judge Ramon Makasiar, Aquino refused to withdraw the charges.
"I was really shocked to read . . . that I hid under the bed during the coup attempt of Aug. 28, 1987," Aquino, 58, testified.
"I was very angry because that was a blatant lie," she said.
The president is asking for about $140,000 in damages, which she said she will donate to charity. If convicted, Beltran could receive four years in prison.