Revilla sets privilege speech on ‘pork’ scam
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – After senators Jinggoy Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile delivered controversial privilege speeches on being linked to the pork barrel scam, Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr is taking the podium as well.
Revilla is set to deliver a privilege speech when the Senate resumes session on Monday, January 20. The agenda from the Office of Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano listed down the senator’s speech after the reference of business.
While the Senate agenda did not specify the topic of Revilla’s speech, the actor-turned-politician said in a previous interview with entertainment reporters that he would address the pork barrel scam in an upcoming privilege speech.
Revilla has kept a low profile since the pork barrel scam broke out, where he is accused of earning the most kickbacks worth P224.51 million. (VISIT: Pork Tales: A story of corruption and Pork Tales: Cast of Characters)
Revilla, Estrada, and Enrile face a plunder complaint for allegedly siphoning off their pork barrel funds to fake non-governmental organizations of supposed mastermind Janet Lim Napoles in exchange for commissions.
Revilla’s lawyer, Joel Bodegon, told Rappler that the senator already filed before the Ombudsman two separate counter-affidavits with counter-charge for plunder against principal whistleblower Benhur Luy "and his cohorts and the responsible officers of the implementing agencies."
"We also filed two separate motions to suspend preliminary investigation on the ground of prejudicial question," Bodegon said.
Estrada and Enrile have submitted their responses, maintaining their innocence and arguing that the whistleblowers admitted to faking documents. (READ: Enrile to Ombudsman: PDAF charges baseless, urban legend and Jinggoy: 'Pork' charges ploy vs opposition for 2016)
In a gathering with showbiz reporters earlier this month, Revilla said that he and his family are devoting more time to bible studies.
“Sinurrender ko na sa Lord ang lahat. The truth will set us free. Lugmok kami, pero babangon ako!" Revilla was quoted as saying in a report of ABS-CBN’s Mario Dumaual. (I surrender everything to the Lord. We are down but I will rise again.)
The senator again denied the charges against him.
“2013 was a bad year for me. Dumating sa akin ang matinding pagsubok, pero babangon ako. I am innocent as charged and I will do everything to prove it,” he added. (I met a great challenge, but I will overcome it.)
In October 2013, Revilla filed a damage suit against Napoles’ aides-turned-whistleblowers. He asked a Cavite court to nullify the allegations against him, saying the documents on his pork barrel releases were “fictitious, forged, and falsified.”
The senator, who has been photographed partying with Napoles, said he only saw her in social gatherings.
Rappler earlier reported that the senator’s eldest son Leonard Bryan Bautista co-owned a business with Napoles’ son, James Christopher Napoles, and her nephew Ronald Lim Jr. Senator Revilla though said the business was a “legal undertaking” and described the story as “malicious.”
In the rare times Revilla granted interviews to the Senate press last year, he repeatedly appealed for the public to reserve judgment. He even welcomed Napoles’ Senate testimony.
“’Di ako natatakot kasi malinis ang konsensya ko,” Revilla said. “Siguro it's high time, magandang pumunta si Jenny Napoles nang lumabas ang katotohanan, matapos na ang gulong ito. Kung sino ang managot, dapat managot, kulong.”
(I am not afraid of her testimony because my conscience is clear. Maybe it’s high time and good for Jenny Napoles to come here so the truth will come out and this mess will end. Whoever is liable should be held accountable, should be sent to jail.)
“Sa mga kababayan natin, hayaan niyo po kaming ibigay ang side namin. Ako ay naniniwala na 'di ko mararating ang kinalalagyan ko ngayon kung 'di dahil sa mga taong nagmamahal sa akin at 'di ko sila ibebenta. Ang tiwala at pagmamahal nila, 'di ko po sisirain 'yun.”
(To our fellow Filipinos, allow us to explain our side. I believe I would not have reached my stature now if not for the people who loved me and I will not sell them. Their trust and love, I will not destroy that.)