Ahead of arrest, Bong bids senators farewell

By Christina Mendez
The Philippine Star 

Ramon-Revilla-Jr.3MANILA, Philippines – Anticipating his impending arrest for the non-bailable offense of plunder he is facing before the Sandiganbayan, Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. yesterday delivered an emotional privilege speech at the Senate, bidding farewell to and thanking his colleagues and supporters.

Reiterating his innocence in the plunder charge filed by the Office of the Ombudsman before the Sandiganbayan last Friday, Revilla, however, said he is ready for detention.

Also charged for plunder are his fellow Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada.

Enrile said he has packed his bags and is willing to be jailed, and will take the opportunity to clear his name.

“Mr. President, as I have said before, my conscience is clear. Now that the case against us has been filed, let us face them in court. Let us let the court decide. That is where I will defend myself,” Revilla told President Aquino in his speech titled “Salamat, Kaibigan.”

Revilla described anew how the controversy has affected his family, noting how difficult it is to build one’s integrity only to be destroyed by unsubstantiated charges.

“Regardless, Mr. President, I am prepared to be detained and sacrifice because I know that the truth will come out in due time,” he said.

Since the 16th Congress will adjourn sine die this week, Revilla’s speech was seen as a last-minute attempt to seek sympathy from and express gratitude to the Filipino people.

Unlike his privilege speech last January where he dropped a bombshell against the Aquino administration, Revilla this time simply appealed to President Aquino to put a stop to the political divisiveness under his administration.

“Lead this country not with hatred but with love. Lead this country towards unity and not partisanship. Push our nation’s interest and not political agenda,” he said.

“Jailing your oppositors should not be the only achievement and legacy you will be leaving behind,” Revilla said.

He urged Aquino to stop exacting vengeance against his political opponents but rather focus on how to improve the lives of his countrymen in the last two years of his term.

Revilla outlined the major issues that need the government’s immediate attention such as unemployment, rehabilitation of typhoon-hit areas, alarming crime rate, improvement of the country’s premier airport, better health services and the energy crisis in Mindanao.

Revilla’s wife, Cavite Rep. Lani Mercado, was seen sobbing in the gallery as her husband delivered his privilege speech. The couple’s children and grandchildren were seated at the VIP gallery.

Members of the senator’s staff also became emotional as they listened to his speech, which ended with a video collage of his accomplishments during his 10-year stint as senator.

The video was scored with the song, “Salamat,” which the senator himself sung as a tribute to his friends and supporters.

As he thanked his fellow senators one by one, speculations mounted that Revilla would resign. This, however, did not happen.

Revilla told his co-accused and good friend Estrada: “Kosa, hanggang dito ba naman magkasama tayo (Are we together even in this)? Pinagtatawanan tayo siguro ni Daboy ngayon. Kidding aside, hindi ito ang katapusan natin pare (this is not the end for us). God is just preparing us for something better,” he said, referring to their friend and fellow actor, the late Rudy Fernandez, who he said must be laughing at their present travails.

Revilla also thanked his mentors, former Presidents Fidel Ramos and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

He later met with his supporters in a separate room, and asked them for prayers to withstand the biggest challenge he is facing.

Window of hope

Speaking for the first time since they were charged with plunder, Enrile yesterday said he is ready to face his accusers and to prove his innocence before the court.

“This will give us a chance to prove that we are indeed innocent of the charges filed against us and we’ll have a chance to show that Mrs. (Jessica Lucila) Reyes, my staff, did not receive any money for me or for her. So it’s good that we are given the opportunity to use the proper forum to discharge all of these speculation, all of these charges, all of these things that are being thrown at us,” Enrile said.

He also said that he is prepared for detention.

“I’ve been prepared since several days ago. I’ve packed up my things to bring to Camp Crame if that’s where we are going to be confined,” he said.

According to Enrile, he does not mind being arrested in the Senate if that is where the law enforcement officers decide to serve his arrest warrant.

Senate President Franklin Drilon said last week that he would request the process servers not to serve the warrants at the Senate premises as a matter of institutional courtesy.

“I was served the warrant here in the Senate in 1990. It was here in the Senate that I was arrested. The second time I was arrested in 2001 was at my house,” Enrile said.

Estrada and Revilla have made their respective appeals for the authorities to spare Enrile from detention because of his age.

They said that Enrile, at 90, does not deserve to be locked up in an ordinary detention facility.

Enrile said he would leave the matter up to the government.

“I thank them for that but I’m prepared. Even if I’ll die in my cell, it’s okay. At my age, I got through life already,” Enrile said.

Estrada, for his part, said his lawyers will continue to exhaust all legal remedies available to them. He said he would meet with his lawyers and file the motions before the Sandiganbayan.

Estrada said he would also deliver a privilege speech on Wednesday.

Is there probable cause?

Meanwhile, Revilla and his former chief of staff Richard Cambe are asking the Sandiganbayan to review the plunder cases filed by the Office of the Ombudsman against them.

In separate motions filed through their lawyers, they said the anti-graft court should look into the records of the investigation and determine if there is probable cause to indict them.

Revilla filed on Saturday a motion for judicial determination of probable cause, a pleading which ultimately questions the findings of the Office of the Ombudsman as to whether or not he should be tried for the alleged non-bailable criminal offense.

He stands accused of pocketing more than P242 million in kickbacks or commissions from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel fund scam.

Revilla also filed a motion for deferment and/or suspension of proceedings and an entry of appearance, stating that lawyer Joel Bodegon and other members of the latter’s firm will be representing him in the case.

Cambe also filed a motion for judicial determination for probable cause contained in an omnibus motion which likewise asks for the production of the complete records of the preliminary investigation conducted by the Office of the Ombudsman.

Since the Sandiganbayan will not be raffling the plunder cases until Friday this week, no action or hearings on the motions are to be expected.

Once the cases are raffled to the anti-graft court’s divisions, the pleadings will be forwarded to the respective courts for action.

Sandiganbayan sources said a decision from the Supreme Court on Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales’ request for the creation of a special court to handle the PDAF scam cases will change everything, since no raffle will be conducted if such special courts are indeed ordered created.

Rule of law

Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez urged yesterday the Aquino administration and other concerned authorities to uphold the rule of law and not to prejudge those accused in the pork barrel scam.

Romualdez, president of the Lakas Christian and Muslim Democrats, also said he stands “solidly” behind Revilla in his fight to bring out the truth in the plunder case he is facing over his alleged participation in the pork barrel scam.

He said he was defending Revilla not only because he is chairman of Lakas, but also as a lawyer he has yet to see any solid evidence against him, especially the key component of plunder.

“As President Aquino himself declared, anyone is innocent until proven guilty. So I appeal to the public not to prejudge Sen. Revilla based only on press releases and supposed expert opinions,” Romualdez said.

“The law provides that only the court, in this case the Sandiganbayan, can rule on the guilt or innocence of the accused. Let us all respect the law,” he said.

‘Prepare for war’

Meanwhile, lawmakers from the Akbayan party-list urged the Sandiganbayan to respond decisively to the plunder charges formally filed against the three senators, alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles and several others.

Representatives Walden Bello and Barry Gutierrez called on the anti-graft court to immediately issue warrants of arrest to the charged senators and to order their suspension.

They also called on the court to issue hold departure orders against the accused parties to prevent them from leaving the country to evade justice.

Bello said that given the power and influence of the accused parties, the Sandiganbayan must “prepare for war” and “act with resolve.”

“Even as we have fought and won many battles in the anti-corruption front, we cannot afford to lose the war. All relevant institutions of government starting with the Sandiganbayan must get their act together and respond appropriately to this issue. On the other hand, all anti-corruption advocates and the public must close ranks to put in force our conviction to see all those who plundered the nation’s coffers put behind bars,” Bello said.

“At a time when obfuscation and misdirection are the weapons of the corrupt, the arrest of these public officials will create a powerful symbol to once again rally the people against unremitting and large-scale corruption,” he said.

He also called on the Sandiganbayan not to provide special treatment to the accused lawmakers.

Gutierrez said Article VI Section 16 (3) of the 1987 Constitution provides for the manner through which members of the Senate may be disciplined or suspended.

He said each house may determine the rules of its proceedings, punish its members for disorderly behavior, and with the concurrence of two-thirds of all its members, suspend a member.

Gutierrez said the suspension of the three senators would help in refurbishing the tarnished image of the Senate. – With Marvin Sy, Michael Punongbayan, Paolo Romero

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2014/06/10/1333075/ahead-arrest-bong-bids-senators-farewell


6 Responses. Have your say.

  1. Don Azarias says:

    Perry,

    These freaking comedians, making denials instead of offering an act of contrition, really makes me want to throw up.

    For the magnitude of the crime they committed, even hell is too good of a place for them. Don’t you agree?

    Don

    • perry says:

      Hi Don,

      If I have my druthers, I’d tie all three of them to a tree and release 1,000 vultures to feast on their carcasses.

      I hope that the Ombudsman would go after the other 20 senators and 120 congressmen and send them to Basilan to fight the Abu Sayyaf with kitchen knives. That would really be quite a spectacle, huh?

      Perry

    • Bobby Bagos says:

      Don, what else can these clowns do but make a fool of themselves, they know that their sh*ts are up the creek right now and if they don’t keep their mouth shut they may just swallow their own poop. Revilla during his privilege speech seemed to be doing his best to gain some sympathy from his peers and his supporters, I just hope that the rest of the country does’nt fall for his usual bullsh*t.

  2. Conrado (Sluggo) Rigor, Jr. says:

    …it is a wait and see scenario…

  3. Gabriel says:

    With the millions and millions of pesos in their name paid to bogus NGO’s are not enough evidence of corruption ? then pay back is essential.. Why don’t they just explain that they used their positions as senators to get all these money. That’s it.

Join the discussion

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *