Revilla’s rant-A A +A
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
LIKE Sen. Jinggoy Estrada before him, Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. succeeded in creating ripples in a still political pond by throwing a pebble into it in the form of a privilege speech in the Senate. But those ripples will soon dissipate, and then he will have to prepare for bigger waves from a rock the Ombudsman will soon throw into the same pond.
Jinggoy’s privilege speech created ripples earlier with a privilege speech that included his expose on the release to him by Malacañang of funds that were later found out to be part of the then publicly unknown Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) of the budget department.
But the ripples have since dissipated, with the DAP question now being tackled by the Supreme Court after it shot down the Priority Development Assistance Fund (Pdaf) system as unconstitutional. Media has since gone on to fresher explosive issues.
Revilla’s privilege speech included the claim that President Noynoy Aquino, through Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas, talked with him and tried to influence his decision in the impeachment trial of former Supreme Court chief justice
Unlike the DAP, however, this issue has a short shelf life. When new controversies erupt sooner than later, it will be forgotten.
Meanwhile, the Office of the Ombudsman is continuing to sift through the pieces of evidence the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) submitted to prop up the plunder case it filed against Revilla, Estrada and others in relation to the P10-billion pork barrel scam linked to Janet Lim-Napoles.
Ombudsman Conchita-Carpio Morales said their perusal of the evidence may take one year. But when it does finally lodge the plunder case with the Sandiganbayan, Revilla, et al will no longer have the luxury of being able to deliver privilege speeches to create ripples in the political pond. They can’t post bail and will be incarcerated.
Revilla didn’t dwell on the specifics of the plunder accusation against him, probably on the advice of his legal counsel. He may do that when asked by the Office of the Ombudsman. In the meantime, the public will continue to hang on to what the NBI and the DOJ claimed.
They said that Revilla plundered from government coffers a minimum of P224.5 million from commissions from the releases of his Pdaf channeled through bogus non-government organizations Napoles created. He allegedly collected the money in a five-year span starting in 2006.
The closest Revilla came to defending himself from this accusation was when he said that he worked since he was 16 years old, meaning that his money comes from the sweat of his brows. Indeed, his work as an actor pays higher compared with those of mere laborers.
It does not follow, however, that he no longer has motivation to dip his fingers into public coffers. Revilla is not an ordinary politician but a senator whose constituency is the entire nation. A senator, like the vice president and president, campaigns nationwide. One needs oodles of money for that.
To come up with a decent campaign during elections, senatorial bets depend on the money provided by their party even as they use their own funds. Considering the current electoral setup, where one needs to have strong political machinery and even has to buy votes, the cost could reach billions of pesos. That alone can be motivation to steal.
Incidentally, Revilla has also set his eyes on a presidential or vice presidential run in 2016. That could also motivate him to go on an early fund-raising drive to mount a decent political campaign.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 22, 2014.