‘Pork’ senators, police reach gentleman’s agreement

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Thursday, June 19, 2014


MANILA (Updated) -- Senator Ramon Revilla Jr. on Thursday admitted to a supposed "gentleman's agreement" he and his co-accused in the pork barrel scam reached with the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG).

The senator said he had talked to the CIDG chief in the recent months, long before the Office of the Ombudsman before the filing of plunder and graft charges before the Sandiganbayan.

The senator from Cavite said he then asked CIDG chief Superintendent Benjamin Magalong he be afforded the respect given to a senator as he reiterated his strong stand to face the matter squarely and not to evade arrest.

Revilla said he will respect and accept the order of the court as well as the authorities who would carry out an imminent court order for those implicated in the pork barrel scandal, including Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada, to be taken into custody.

"I hope they will still give us due respect as elected senators of this country," Revilla said.

But even as he vowed to cooperate and not to resist any arrest warrant that may be served on him anytime soon, Revilla said he will not allow arresting officers to disrespect him.

"Huwag lang sana kaming babastusin. Masyado na ang dinanas namin na hirap dahil sa pamumulitika pero huwag nila akong aalisan ng konting dangal at konting respeto sa pagkakataun na ito," Revilla said.

Revilla said he assured Magalong that he is man enough to face the problem squarely as maintained that there is no need to dramatize everything should the event take place.

He said he and Estrada do not have any plans or did not talk about the idea of surrendering together or at the same time, contrary to the impression of some that they have sent surrender feelers this early.

"We did not talk about that but Senator Jinggoy (Estrada) mentioned that it might be the likely arrangement, and we would see each other in (Camp) Crame," he said.

Unlike Estrada who asked not to be fetched at his residence for the sake of his children, Revilla said he doesn't mind if he will be arrested in his house in Cavite once the arrest warrant is already out.

"It will be automatic, the moment the warrant is issued, I will surrender to them. It's up to them if they want to fetch me from my residence. I have no problem with that. That’s expected and I’m ready to face that situation," he said.

Revilla said there will be no untoward incident that might occur as he had already prepared himself in such a situation.

When asked if he will be handcuffed, Revilla said as far as he is concerned, it is just okay but what he is worried about is his father, former Senator Ramon Revilla, Sr.

"I'm just worried about my father. He has not come to terms with what is happening to me but I'm trying to prepare him for the worst. I want to see him before they put me in detention," he said.

The beleaguered senator meanwhile confirmed that his camp already appealed to the Supreme Court for the third time to stop the Office of the Ombudsman and the Sandiganbayan from prosecuting him citing the fact that his constitutional right has been violated.

He asked the SC to issue a temporary restraining order to enjoin the Sandiganbayan from hearing the cases against him.

Revilla, in his third petition for certiorari before the high tribunal, said the Ombudsman committed grave abuse of discretion and violated his right to due process when it issued a resolution last March 28 finding probable cause to charge him with plunder along with fellow senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Estrada.

He said that the Ombudsman committed the same violation when it dismissed his motion for reconsideration last June 4.

Based on an 81-page motion submitted by Revilla's camp, the senator argued that the Ombudsman's resolution failed to present any proof against him as he also challenged the basis of the Ombudsman’s finding of probable cause against him.

He said nowhere in its resolution has the anti-graft agency showed that he stole at least P50 million of government funds, the amount that qualifies him for the charge of plunder.

Revilla said this is precisely the reason why they asked the SC to intervene and clarify the issue.

"If a finding of probable cause is allowed to fuel this continued persecution against Senator Revilla despite the clear absence of evidence that he is guilty, Senator Revilla could spend time in jail waiting for the criminal proceedings to be concluded, when in fact, in the first place, such criminal proceedings should have not taken place," the petition stated.

He argued that as an elected senator, the Filipino voters are expecting him to perform his duty and if arrested and detained without bail since it is plunder and a non-bailable offense then he cannot anymore do what is obliged of him under the Constitution.

"This results in incalculable injury to the people who put him into office, which demands no less judicial correction by the Honorable Court through the issuance of the injunctive relief herein prayed. Such preservative remedy is clearly necessary to protect the rights not of Senator Revilla, but of the people, especially those who elected him into office," the petition stated.

Earlier, Revilla said prosecutors have failed to establish or present evidence showing that he is part of a conspiracy to commit the crime and that the testimonial evidence against him are "mere hearsay" and should not be admitted in court.

Revilla allegedly pocketed more than P242 million in kickbacks from the scam.

The Sandiganbayan last week raffled off the pork barrel scam cases against Revilla, Enrile, Estrada, and alleged pork barrel mastermind Janet Napoles, as well as the other respondents, which was immediately followed by the issuance of the hold departure order (HDO) to prevent them from leaving the country. (Camille P. Balagtas/Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)

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