Even as he is proclaimed, Bong Revilla evades questions

Lian Buan
Even as he is proclaimed, Bong Revilla evades questions
A pressing question as Revilla heads back to the Senate is how he can make sure his office will not be used in the same scam again

MANILA, Philippines – It seems that the less talk, less mistake strategy is working so well for graft defendant Bong Revilla that, even as he was proclaimed he still refused to entertain pressing questions from the media.

Revilla walked into the Philippine International Convention Center on Wednesday, May 22, for his proclamation as a returning senator, waving only to waiting reporters.

When he walked out, he stopped for a bit and said: “Sana naman matigil na ‘yung mga batikos at tayo’y magsama-sama para sa bayan.” (I hope the bashing stops and we can all unite for the country.)

Revilla answered only one other question – which committee would he like to have – to which he answered he didn’t know yet. Then he walked away.

Revilla had been evasive throughout the campaign, ignoring reporters during sorties.

A pressing question for him as he heads back to the Senate is how he can ensure his office will not be used in the same scam again.

Revilla was acquitted for plunder but it is a fact his Senate office was used in a scam that involved a recomputed amount of P124.5 million in public funds. 

His former Senate staff, Richard Cambe, has been convicted of plunder for the embezzlement of funds using the now infamous NGO network of Janet Lim Napoles.

Another question awaiting Revilla’s response is whether he believes Cambe is guilty or innocent, and if guilty, how he could not have noticed his illegal ways.

Revilla remains on trial for 16 counts of graft for the same pork scam case. 

Revilla was acquitted in a narrow 3-2 decision by the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan. It was a nuanced decision that did not declare Revilla to be not guilty of the crime.

The decision also ordered the return of the P124.5 million but did not categorically state who must return it. The Office of the Ombudsman wants Revilla to return the money. He is fighting that anew in court.

Revilla also has some explaining to do about his undeclared wealth in his Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN). Dissenting justice Ma Theresa Dolores Gomez Estoesta said the concealment of unexplained wealth makes Revilla liable for graft.

It is worth watching how Revilla will treat media as he returns to the Senate.

At his homecoming in Cavite immediately after his acquittal, Revilla’s son Jolo told Rappler reporter Rambo Talabong: “Rappler? Alam naman natin na kayo ang nagpapagiba sa amin (Rappler? We know you’re the one trying to destroy us.)”

Revilla did not join a single media-organized debate in the campaign, but in a rare instance told reporters in a chance interview that he wants the death penalty imposed on plunderers.

He ranked 11th in the 2019 senatorial elections, getting 14,624,445 votes. – Rappler.com

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Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.