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MANILA, Philippines – Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr has a message to netizens who criticized his privilege speech and music video: “Maraming salamat, kaibigan.” (Thank you, friend.)
Using the title of his now controversial music video, Revilla said he understood the ire of social media users but explained that the song was directed to the 20 million people who voted for him.
The actor-turned-politician who drew flak for releasing a music video instead of addressing plunder charges said his presentation was no dramatic stunt.
“It’s not showbiz. That’s my heart. Hindi acting iyon (It was not acting),” Revilla told reporters on Wednesday, June 11.
Revilla spoke about the motivations behind the speech he delivered two days ago. In that speech on June 9, the senator who faces arrest over the country’s biggest corruption scandal opted to bid farewell to his colleagues and fans, and play a video of an original composition.
The speech drew negative reactions and sparked memes on social media. Revilla said he got wind of the criticism online. He added that he got information that Malacañang hired online trolls to attack him and his co-accused Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile.
“Ang iba, totoo. Maaring iyon ang saloobin nila. Okay lang po sa akin iyon. I’m a good sport,” he said. (Some people might genuinely feel that way. That’s okay with me.)
Revilla said he understands that people exposed to the negative publicity about him will feel angry, but he asked netizens to allow him to defend himself in court.
Asked if he read Twitter comments, the senator turned religious. “Siyempre nakakarating sa akin. Nasasakatan lang ako [para] sa mga anak ko na nagbabasa. Apektado sila, siyempre, pero okay lang iyon. Basta hindi naman ito ibibigay ng Panginoon kung ‘di ko kakayanin ang ganitong pagsubok.”
(Of course, the comments reached me. I am just hurt for my children who read it. They are affected but that’s okay. I know God will not give us a challenge we cannot handle.)
Revilla is accused of getting the most kickbacks from the scam worth P242 million. He, Estrada and Enrile supposedly connived with alleged mastermind Janet Lim Napoles to channel development funds meant for the poor to fake non-governmental organizations to pocket the cost of ghost projects.
‘Boy Pick-up ready to pick me up’
Like Enrile, Revilla said he is ready for detention and has no plans of fleeing. He even found time to crack jokes, taking a swipe at Interior Secretary Mar Roxas.
“I’m ready, nakaempake rin ako. Balita ko si Boy Pick-up pumunta sa kukulangan sa amin. Mukhang gusto na yata akong pick-up-in. Joke lang iyon!”
(I am ready, my bags are also packed. I heard Boy Pick-up went to our detention cell. It seems he already wants to pick me up. Just kidding!)
It was a reference to the term Revilla derisively used against Roxas in his first privilege speech in January. Back then, he said the interior secretary picked him up for a secret meeting at the presidential residence where President Benigno Aquino III allegedly asked him to convict former Chief Justice Renato Corona.
Revilla also addressed speculation that he was about to resign when he delivered his valedictory speech.
“How can I quit? Binoto tayo ng 20 milyong tao. ‘Di pa kami nasentensyahan. ‘Pag nag-quit ako, parang sinabi kong I’m guilty.” (How can I quit? Twenty million people voted for me. We are not yet sentenced. If I quit, it’s like I’m saying I’m guilty.)
The senator said he will continue carrying out his duties as legislator after the 90-day suspension that the court will order.
“Definitely, there is a preventive suspension of 90 days but after that of course, 20 million voted for us, trust us. I should continue my work and I hope they give us the chance to air our side,” he said.
‘Please pray for my family’
The senator said that the request of the Ombudsman to create special divisions in the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan is a non-issue to him.
“It doesn’t matter. Mas mabilis, mas maganda para lumabas ang katotohanan. Sa akin, bigyan lang kami ng tsansa na makasagot at maging patas ang ating hustisya at maging ang sambayanan.”
(The faster the trial, the better so the truth will come out. To me, we should just be given a chance to respond, and to have fairness for us and the nation.) – Rappler.com