MANILA, Philippines – After 4 years and 5 months of detention for plunder charges, former senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr walked free early Friday evening, December 7, from the Camp Crame Detention Center.
The court sheriff arrived at the police camp at around 5:30 pm to serve release order. At exactly 6:13 pm, he stepped out of the compound, which he used to share with fellow pork barrel scam accused and close friend, former Jinggoy Estrada.
“After 4 years and almost 6 months, finally makakalabas na rin ako, at lumalabas na ‘yung katotohanan. Nagpapasalamat ako at merong hustisya pa rin sa ating bansa,” Revilla said on the verge of tears as reporters, cameramen, and cops swirled around him.
(After 4 years and almost 6 months, I can finally come out, and the truth has come out. I am thankful that there’s still justice in the country.)
A special division of the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan on Friday morning acquitted Revilla of charges that he pocketed more than P200 million in commissions from his Priority Development Assistance Fund, which was diverted to fake non-governmental organizations.
Revilla’s co-accused – his former chief of staff in the Senate, lawyer Richard Cambe, and alleged pork barrel scam brains Janet Lim Napoles – were declared guilty. The wording of the court decision is unclear if Revilla is among those ordered to return the P124.5 million in misused funds from his Senate office.
In a phone interview with the ABS-CBN News Channel, Revilla’s wife, Bacoor Mayor Lani Mercado Revilla, said the former senator couldn’t believe he was finally free. “Totoo ba ito? Nananaginip ba ako?” he reportedly said.
Revilla’s son, Cavite Vice Governor Jolo Revilla told reporters the family would go straight to the Imus Cathedral for thanksgiving Friday night, and will then pay respects at the tomb of Revilla’s mother at the family-owned Angelus Eternal Gardens, also in Imus, Cavite.
Revilla, president of the Lakas-NUCD party, is running for senator in the 2019 elections. – Rappler.com
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