THE party that endorsed the candidacy of former senator Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr. lauded Friday, December 7, the decision of the Sandiganbayan to absolve the former senator of plunder charges, saying his acquittal will give a “big boost” to his senatorial bid.
Former Leyte Representative Martin Romualdez, president of the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD), described the verdict as “timely justice” for Revilla, whom he said was a victim of political persecution by the Aquino administration.
“His acquittal only validates and proves that the plunder case against him is politically motivated. Sadly, the plunder case took away more than four years of his life,” said Romualdez.
He said Revilla, who serves as chairman of the Lakas-CMD, is “most qualified” to be senator. Revilla, through wife Lani Mercado-Revilla, filed in October his certificate of candidacy for senator for the May 2019 elections.
“His passion and dedication to serve the people will bring positive change and help improve the country’s good governance, policies, and lawmaking process,” Romualdez said.
“With the people and God’s help, the Lakas-CMD is looking forward to his victory in next year’s midterm poll,” he added.
The Sandiganbayan special first division found Revilla not quilty of plunder over his supposed involvement in the multi-billion-peso pork barrel scam.
The same decision found pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles and Revilla’s former staff, Richard Cambe, guilty of the same charges.
Cavite 2nd District Rep. Strike Revilla, younger brother of the former senator, also lauded the decision of the Sandiganbayan.
"The Revilla family and the people of Cavite welcome the decision by Sandiganbayan acquitting Senator Bong Revilla of any charges. We are very happy that truth prevailed,” said Strike in a press statement.
The younger Revilla thanked the Sanfignbayan for its “fair” ruling. He said it is a great relief to their family to welcome his brother who has denied justice for years.
"Our family is thankful that Senator Bong will finally be free, and this is our best Christmas gift,” said Strike.
ACT Teachers Reps. Antonio Tinio and Rep. France Castro, for their part, slammed the decision of the anti-graft court saying that this reflects the “hypocrisy” of the Duterte administration’s campaign against corruption.
“The acquittal of former senator Bong Revilla over plunder charges shows the insincerity of the Duterte administration's campaign against corruption, where big fish are allowed to wriggle free," Tinio said.
Tinio also said it is “very alarming” that only Revilla was acquitted while his co-accused Napoles and Cambe were convicted.
"Big politicians have either been found not guilty or are out on bail. This greatly reflects the anti-corruption campaign of President Duterte. If you steal millions, you can still run free,” Tinio said.
Castro, for her part, noted that the President stated repeatedly that he will not allow corruption. Castro said the President should also make sure that those charged with corruption will pay for the crimes they have committed.
"The pork barrel system continue to thrive under his administration, politicians charged over the PDAF scam are acquitted, Imelda Marcos convicted of graft remain free and appointees with corruption charges are reappointed to other posts,” added Castro. (SunStar Philippines)