MANILA, Philippines – On his 48th birthday, detained Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr wished that President Benigno Aquino III would set aside politics and mudslinging for the sake of the country.
“I just hope, yung wish ko sana it’s high time na isipin naman natin ang bayan (I just hope, it’s my wish that it’s hight time for us to think of the nation’s welfare),” he said Thursday, September 25, in an off-court interview during his scheduled bail hearing.
He likewise expressed dismay over the ongoing probe into the allegedly overpriced Makati building that became the basis of plunder and graft charges against Vice President Jejomar Binay.
“Kailan ba matatapos yung ganitong klaseng pamumulitika (When will this type of politicking end)?” he asked.
He said Aquino should invest his time in neglected issues in the country instead, including unemployment, need for scholarships, and the rehabilitation of previously besieged Zamboanga City.
Charged with plunder and 16 counts of graft over the alleged misuse of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), Revilla has repeatedly branded his cases as politically-motivated.
“I don’t mind anymore kung anuman yung magiging kahihitnatnan ng political career ko, despite na nakita natin yung epekto ng pagwasak sa aking pangalan, pagwasak sa aming angkan,” he said. (I don’t mind anymore whatever becomes of my political career, despite what I see is the effect of the attacks against my name and my clan.)
A witness previously tagged him and his father, former Senator Ramon Revilla Sr, as having dealt with alleged PDAF scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles. (READ: Revilla father, son transacted with Napoles – witness)
Revilla added, however, that he already forgave those who accused him wrongly. He said he is surrendering his struggle to the Lord.
The anti-graft court Sandiganbayan First Division was hearing the bail pleas of Revilla and his co-accused. The court ordered Revilla’s presence during the Thursday proceeding, after more than two months of him not appearing due to a standing waiver he filed. (READ: Bong Revilla to spend birthday with family in court)
Drilon visits to Napoles
While Revilla wants Aquino to abandon politicking, his lawyer Joel Bodegon cited in open court Senate President Franklin Drilon’s supposed visits to social gatherings hosted by alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles.
The prosecution wanted the court to strike out for being irrelevant the portion of Bodegon’s cross-examination that cited Drilon, but the Sandiganbayan First Division let it remain on record.
Bodegon was questioning state witness Marina “Baby” Sula, a former employee of Napoles-owned JLN Corporation who turned against her former boss to reveal more details about the scam to authorities.
Bodegon pointed out a portion of Sula’s testimony enumerating frequent visitors to the JLN office and to social gatherings hosted by Napoles.
Sula said Drilon and his wife were among the visitors during the 2009 death anniversary of Napoles’ mother Magdalena, but she is not aware of any transactions the Senate President may have with Napoles.
She added that Revilla and his wife Lani was also present in the said gathering.
Revilla listened to this portion of Sula’s testimony with a furrowed brow, while Lani was constantly shaking her head in disagreement.
Lani, for her part, said she wishes for Revilla’s birthday that her husband’s bail plea be decided by the court in their favor.
“‘Sinasantabi muna namin ang pulitika at ang eleksyon sa panahon ngayon. Ang mahalaga yung petition for bail namin sana ay mabigyang pansin at magrant,” she said.
(We are setting aside politics and elections for now. What’s important is our petition for bail is given attention and granted.) – Rappler.com