SENATORS Juan Ponce Enrile and Ramon Revilla Jr. said Monday they were ready to defend themselves but were willing to go to jail after the Ombudsman filed plunder charges against them in connection with the alleged pork barrel scam.
Their statements followed Senator Jinggoy Estrada’s revelation Thursday night that he was willing to go to jail over the same case, and that he wasn’t surprised by the Ombudsman’s decision to file the charges against him, Enrile and Revilla and alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim- Napoles.
In his privilege speech before the Senate’s plenary session, Revilla said his conscience was clear but he would be willing to go to jail even if he was innocent of the charges against him.
He thanked and praised his colleagues in the Senate, saying he looked up to them and admired them. He also thanked his family.
“To my wife and kids, we shall overcome!” Revilla said and sent tears to the eyes of his wife, Cavite Rep. Lani Mercado.
He also sang what he described as an original song that was aired accompanied by video footage of his interaction with his supporters.
He begged President Benigno Aquino III to lead the Philippines “not with hatred but with love,” and to avoid mudslinging.
“Lead the country towards unity and not partisanship. Push our nation’s interest and not your political agenda. The opportunity afforded one to become President is very rare, and you are lucky, Mr. President,” Revilla said.
“Be the President of the country towards development and progress so that the six years entrusted to you will not be wasted... You still have two remaining years. It’s not right and not good that you and your administration will be remembered for sending to jail those who are not your allies.”
Enrile said his bags and books were packed. He was ready to go; he was only waiting for his warrant of arrest.
“I have been prepared since several days ago,” he said.
“I’ve already packed my things to bring them to Camp Crame if that’s where we are going to be confined.”
Enrile and Revilla made their statements even as House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said Enrile should be allowed house arrest while being tried for plunder, adding his age should be considered. Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga, an administration ally, echoed him.
Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, head of the Independent Minority Bloc, urged the Aquino administration to be fair to all those implicated in the scam.
“Now that formal cases have been filed [against the members of the opposition] before the anti-graft court, the government should also work to file cases against their allies,” Romualdez said.
He reminded the President of his statement that the people accused of wrongdoing were innocent unless proven guilty.
“As declared by President Aquino himself, all accused are innocent until proven guilty,” Romualdez said.
“So I appeal to the public not to prejudge Senator Revilla based only on press releases and supposed expert opinions. The law provides that only the court, in this case the Sandiganbayan, can rule on the guilt or innocence of the accused.
“I stand solidly behind Senator Bong Revilla Jr. in his fight to bring out the truth in the plunder case he is facing over his alleged participation in the pork barrel scam.”
Rep. Barry Gutierrez said Enrile Estrada and Revilla should resign or take a leave of absence following he filing of charges against them.
Rep. Walden Bello urged the Sandiganbayan to immediately issue warrants of arrest against all those implicated in the pork barrel scam.
The 90-year-old Enrile said he was not only prepared to spend his remaining years in jail; he was also prepared to die.
He said his and the others’ arrest was imminent.
“That’s natural. It follows, but there are processes that will happen. Because of these processes, we have to wait,” Enrile said.
He said he did not intend to run to the Supreme Court.
“I will just participate in the trial of my case in the Sandiganbayan,” he said.
“All I can say is that this is an opportunity for us to defend ourselves. We are innocent of the charges.”
Enrile thanked Estrada and Revilla for appealing to spare him from arrest. He said he was prepared.
“Even if I die in my cell, it’s okay. I’ve got through life already,” he said.
Revilla told Aquino that jailing his critics should not be the only legacy he would leave behind. Divisive politics should stop.
“Mr. President, several persons have been named in the issue on PDAF [Priority Development Assistance Fund]. Many are being hurt. Many have been destroyed due to mudslinging that sticks to the skin and pierces one’s soul,” he said.
“Mr. President, what will happen to a person who had been destroyed if later on he was proven to be innocent? Will there still be hope to clear his name?”
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