Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has assailed senatorial candidate Ramon Revilla Jr. for blaming her over the plunder charges filed against him for his involvement in the multi-million-peso pork barrel scam, the biggest corruption scandal in 2013.
De Lima, a former justice secretary, said Revilla should stop being boastful about his acquittal of plunder because he could not deny that plunder really happened through his office.
“Sa panunungkulan mo bilang Senador nangyari ang pandarambong ng milyon-milyon, tapos, ako ang ituturo mong may kasalanan? Tigilan nyo na ako. Huwag nyo akong gamitin sa pagpapapansin sa mga botante at sa pagpapalakas nyo kay Duterte,” she said in her Dispatch from Crame No. 507.
“I feel sorry for Mr. Revilla on his deliberate yet pathetic attempt to put the blame on me. Ngayong gusto na naman nyang maging Senador, kailangan niyang paniwalain ang sarili nya at ang publiko na inosente siya,” she added.
Under certain circumstances, particularly on the political front, the former justice secretary noted that equating acquittal with innocence is “fallacious.”
In a statement, Revilla blamed De Lima for his detention for alleged misuse of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), pejoratively known as pork barrel when he was senator, falsely claiming that “kagagawan niya ang panggigipit sa akin.”
During the Aquino administration, De Lima led the probe on the multi-million pork barrel scam and filed plunder and graft charges against Revilla along with then senators Jinggoy Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile and several other government officials.
Revilla was charged with plunder for allegedly accepting over PhP200 million in kickbacks from his pork barrel that was purportedly channelled to ghost livelihood projects linked with alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles.
While the Sandiganbayan, voting 3-2, acquitted Revilla of plunder after serving more than four years in detention in December 2018, it ordered him to return PhP124.5 million to the National Treasury.
Considering the Sandiganbayan’s decision, De Lima said Mr. Revilla could still not deny the fact that the court has found that plunder was committed in his office and he is “liable for restitution” along with his co-accused.
“Mukhang siya ang nakakalimot. O mukhang pilit lang talagang nagmamaang-maangan para baligtarin ang katotohanan: May pinapasauling 124.5 million pesos na ninakaw mula sa pork barrel funds ng kanyang tanggapan. Pinalaya ka man ng Korte, hinding hindi mo matatakasan ang katotohanan na mayroon ka pa ring pananagutan,” she said.
The lady Senator from Bicol also reiterated that her situation cannot be compared to that of Revilla’s and other PDAF senators because the drug cases filed against her were obviously fabricated and anchored on orchestrated lies of perjured witnesses.
“Lahat ng paratang sa akin ay nakabase lamang sa pawang laway at kasinungalingan ng mga testigong tinakot o pinangakuan ng kung ano ano, mga totoong drug lords na kahit ngayon ay tumatamasa ng mga pribelehiyo at proteksyon ng kanilang ilegal na gawain, kapalit ng pag testigo laban sa akin,” she said.
“Unlike the plunder and corruption cases filed against Mr. Bong Revilla and the others implicated in the Napoles PDAF Scam, which were bona fide indictments based on credible and freely-given testimonies of whistleblowers, backed by the findings of other independent institutions at the time, such as the Commission on Audit and the Office of the Ombudsman,” she added.
De Lima said Revilla may have regained physical freedom, but she maintained that he will never have “the freedom of conscience, mind and spirit” that she now enjoys even under detention.
“Tahimik at payapa ang aking kalooban dahil, di tulad ni Ginoong Revilla, wala akong nilabag na batas at lalong wala akong inangking pera ng bayan,” said she. Revilla, along with Estrada and Enrile who are on bail pending the charges against them in connection with the pork barrel scam, are running for senators this coming midterm elections in May 13.