Revilla: ‘My conscience is clear’

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Monday, June 9, 2014

MANILA (Updated) -- Senator Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr. on Monday said his conscience is clear amid the Ombudsman's filing of plunder and graft cases against him in relation to the alleged misuse of Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

In a privilege speech, Revilla, who is facing plunder and graft cases along with Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile, bid goodbye to his colleagues by expressing his gratitude to each member of the Senate in the 16th Congress.

In same speech, Revilla revealed his gratitude list to "God, country, and people."

First in his list is God followed by his father, the former Senator Ramon Revilla Sr., and his wife and children.

"God thank you for walking with me during these times of trials. To my father, I love you Dad and also to my wife and Children -- " be strong."

"To Senate President Franklin Drilon -- I pray that you as a leader in this chamber will be successful in rebuilding this country as well as to Senator Ralph Recto who is a true gentleman."

Senator Ramon Revilla Jr.
MANILA. Senator Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr. (center) joins his colleagues, Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada, after he delivered a privileged speech at the Senate on Monday. The three senators are facing plunder and graft charges before the Sandiganbayan in connection with the alleged misuse of Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). (Al Padilla/Sunnex)

"Senator Alan Peter Cayetano -- I wish you good luck to all your endeavors; Senator Vicente Sotto III -- Hindi lang kita Tito kundi isang tunay ko rin na kaibigan; Senator Gregorio Honasan -- I look up to you because of your humility and your patriotism, which is beyond question."

"Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago -- I am praying for your health. The Senate needs your expertise; Senator Lito Lapid -- Ikaw ang tunay na Leon Guerrero ng masang Pilipino; Senator Teofisto TG Guingona -- Kaibigan pa rin kita. I hope you will lead the Blue Ribbon in fulfillinng its true mandate."

"Senator Edgardo Sonny Angara -- I look up to your father. I hope you will continue his legacy; Senator Grace Poe -- nakita ko sa iyo ang puso ng iyong ama. Ang tunay na panday; Senator Jose Jinggoy Estrada -- Ang aking Kosa. Hangang dito ba naman sa kulungan magkakasama na naman tayo. Siguro pinagtatawanan tayo ni Daboy (late actor Rudy Fernandez) Baka samahan din tayo ni Ipe (actor Philip Salvador) sa kulungan."

"Senator Loren Legarda -- ang aking seatmate, I will miss your enthusiasm; Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, you are a true fighter for the people; Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito -- Nakita ko sa iyo ang iyong ama, ang hiling ko laman ay sana, magbati na kayong magkapatid (Senator Estrada).

"Senator Bam Aquino -- you are on the right track; Senator Aquilino 'Koko' Pimentel -- I will always be an admirer of you and your father, former Sen. Aquilino Nene Pimentel; Senator Sergio Osmena III -- Brilliant, a good person and a good friend."

He also described Senator Pia Cayetano as an inspiration to women and Senator Cynthia Villar as a true Filipino, "na makikitaan po natin ng sipag at tiyaga."

Senator Francis Escudero, he said works with passion and sincerity, "higit sa lahat, Senator Chiz--please be careful with your Heart."

Senator Nancy Binay, he said, is an exact copy of his father, Vice President Jejomar Binay, whom he described as a real leader with vision.

Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. he said has shown what he can do, "abangan niyo na lang po. May aabangan sa iyo ang ating bansa."

Most of all, to Senate Minority Leader Enrile, his co-accused in the plunder and graft cases, whom he said is undoubtedly a true statesman.
"I can only wish I can live a full life like yours," Revilla said.

He also mentioned former Senator Fidel Ramos, one of the top leaders of Lakas and former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who is presently under hospital arrest of a plunder case.

Divided nation

Revilla said President Benigno Aquino III should stop dividing the nation considering that he is the Chief Executive who should lead this nation and the people as "one country, as one nation."

"President Aquino nakasalalay po sa inyo ang kinabukasan ng bansa sa loob ng two taon. Sana gamitin mo ang iyong kapangyarihan sa pagbibigay ng ginhawa sa atin mga kababayan. Lead the country with leadership not with partisanship," he said.

"Tama na po ang awayan at bengga. Ang magkakaiba na kulay ay hindi dapat sumagisag sa pagkakawatak watak ng mga Pilipino. Dapåt po ay walang dilaw, walang pula, walang asul o itim, dahil tayo ay isang dugo lamang ang mga Pilipino na may isang," Revilla added.

The Senator from Cavite also raised the possibility of using the PDAF scam to abolish Congress thru Charter change.

"Grand design po ba ito para ma abolish na ang Kongreso? Napakaraming tao ang nabanggit at nasira sa PDAF at ang batuhan ng putik ay parang alkitran na buhay ka pa ay ibinuburol ka na," said Revilla.

He also appealed to media for fairness as he insisted on the need to have a responsible report and appealing to their sensibilities.

Earlier, Revilla's camp said they are already preparing to file another petition before the Supreme Court to challenge the Ombudsman's resolution denying his appeal not to pursue the plunder case for lack of basis.

"This week we will file another petition for certiorari and prohibition against this resolution of the Ombudsman denying our motion for reconsideration on their (Ombudsman) previous resolution finding probable cause against the senator," Revilla's lawyer Joel Bodegon said.

Revilla's camp has, so far, filed two motions already before the Sandiganbayan, which are a motion for judicial determination of probable cause and deferment or suspension of proceedings and a motion for suspension based on existence of prejudicial question.

Bodegon said the motion is to ask the Sandiganbayan to review or scrutinize the proceedings of the Ombudsman that led to the filing of the information.

"If the Sandiganbayan will fully review the motion, it will realize that the filing of information was railroaded and should give basis to the Sandiganbayan not to issue a warrant of arrest but to dismiss the information," he said.

"Fundamentally, the due process of law under the Constitution, which is a guaranteed right of every citizen, requires that when a person is accused of anything he must be given the opportunity to answer those accusations," he added.

Bodegon was referring to the Ombudsman's refusal to furnish Revilla with copies of counter-affidavits of some of the co-respondents in the case.

"It is only right for him to be given copies of the affidavit to answer the allegations against him but this was not allowed since they claimed there is no cogent reason for the request. How can that be when the basis of his request was no less than the Constitution itself which guarantees every accused individual of any crime the opportunity to be heard of the accusations against him?" he said.

Bodegon said that they were already preparing to go to the Supreme Court when the Ombudsman denied their request for copies of the counter-affidavits.

"But from out of the blue they gave us six copies when in fact we're asking for 19 copies (of those affidavits) So we filed for a motion for reconsideration and we said that a perfunctory move does not qualify for following due process. When they denied it, we went to the Supreme Court by filing a petition for certiorari and prohibition and when the SC saw some basis in our petition, they required the Ombudsman to answer our petition," he said.

Instead of following the Supreme Court order, however, the Ombudsman released a resolution directing the filing of the information (before the Sandiganbayan)," he said.

"Now we're asking the Sandiganbayan through our motion to look into this since there is no valid case against Revilla if the basis would be the PDAF documents falsified by Benhur Luy, et al. If those are falsified, how can these be used against Revilla," he said.

Revilla, in his speech, maintained that he will not go into hiding and will surrender himself willfully if the warrant of arrest will be served.

"Kung ang pagkakakulong ko ang susi sa hustisya ay malugod ko itong tatanggapin. Makulong man ako ay hindi nila makukulong ang aking pagmamahal sa bayan," he said.

Solid behind Revilla

The leadership of Lakas Christian-Muslim Democrats (CMD) on Monday said it remains solid in supporting the beleaguered senator from Cavite.

Leyte Representative Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, Lakas-CMD president, said he has yet to see any solid evidence against Revilla, especially the key component of plunder, which says that the accused "pocketed the money in question."

"I stand solidly behind Sen. Bong Revilla Jr. in his fight to bring out the truth in the plunder case he is facing over his alleged participation in the 'pork barrel' scam. Not only because he is a Lakas party-mate but as a lawyer myself, I have yet to see any solid evidence against him," Romualdez said.

Romualdez appealed to the public not to prejudge the lawmaker based only on press releases and supposed expert opinions.

"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.

The Leyte lawmaker meanwhile urged the government to be fair to all government officials implicated in the alleged multibillion-peso pork barrel scam by expediting the resolution of all pending complaints, including those against the allies of President Benigno Aquino III.

"From the very beginning, we join the government in seeking justice behind the pork barrel scam. But it should not be selective prosecution where opposition personalities are being persecuted. The government should also work in the filing of cases against their allies," Romualdez said.

The head of the independent minority bloc in the House of Representatives reiterated Aquino's past statement that officials who have been accused of wrongdoing remain innocent unless proven otherwise by the courts.

"As declared by President Aquino himself, all accused are innocent until proven guilty. So I appeal to the public not to prejudge Sen. Revilla based only on press releases and supposed expert opinions. 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," said Romualdez.

House arrest

The leadership of the House of Representatives on Monday welcomed the proposal of Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile, one of the lawmakers indicted over the pork barrel scam, to place senators facing plunder charges under house arrest.

House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said that Enrile, being an old man and a former Senate President should be given the courtesy by giving him more elbows to move by not putting him behind bars.

"Yeah, I think so. Oo, dahil as everybody ought to be treated, the same, even the law you know allows some leniency in the case of persons already of advance age like myself for instance but more so like him, and definitely I’m in favor of that," Belmonte said in an interview.

He added that he is also favoring a big place aside from house arrest, which should not look like an ordinary jail to give Enrile the courtesy.

"Yeah or at least not the usual thing [ordinary jail], where they confine you in an enclosure facility. Let him move around, even if he is inside the camp or something basta wag ikukulong and let him feel in his twilight years," he said.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) said the custodial center reserved for personalities, including senators, tagged in the pork barrel scam was not designed for long time detention, an official said Monday.

In a media briefing, PNP Public Information Office head Chief Superintendent Reuben Theodore Sindac said the newly renovated custodial facility of the PNP can cater 80 to 100 detainees.

"Currently it has around 80 inmates," he said.

More than 40 high-profile personalities, including three senators, are likely to be arrested next week after the Ombudsman filed a non-bailable case of plunder against them last Friday.

Sindac said the PNP will enforce the directive of the Sandiganbayan to commit the accused, following their arrest.

"At this point the PNP is ready to take any high-profile detainee that will be committed to us by the Sandiganbayan," he added.

Also, Sindac said the PNP is considering the transfer of the high-risk detainees to Fort Sto. Domingo in Laguna, where Janet Napoles, the pork barrel scam mastermind, is currently detained for the serious illegal detention of the scam's main whistleblower Benhur Luy.

Sindac assured that there would be no special treatment to the accused, saying that all of them will stay in ordinary detention cell, with just a bed, electric fan and a lavatory.

Earlier, the PNP's Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) earlier said that they will abide by the directive of the Sandiganbayan if it will release the warrants of arrest against the accused. (Camille P. Balagtas/John Carlo Cahinhinan/Third Anne Peralta/Sunnex)

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