Jailed former senator Bong Revilla aims for a comeback despite plunder raps

Former Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla before he was imprisoned. Photo: ABS-CBN News
Former Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla before he was imprisoned. Photo: ABS-CBN News

Former actor and Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla has been in jail for 4 years for plunder raps, but that did not stop him from staging his political comeback.

Today, Bong’s wife Bacoor Mayor Lani Mercado-Revilla filed his certificate of candidacy for senator at the Commission on Elections’ (COMELEC) office in Intramuros, Manila. The former actress was accompanied by her son, former actor and Cavite Vice Governor Jolo Revilla.

She also read a statement from Bong which said he still wants to serve the country despite being in detention in Camp Crame.

Sounding like a line in one of his action movies, he said in Filipino: “They will never imprison my spirit and heart for the nation.”

Naturally, Lani insisted that her husband is innocent of accusations that he received kickbacks from the government’s Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel.

Lani said: “The truth will come out. I believe justice will prevail.”

The PDAF is a fund given to members of the country’s House of Representatives and Senate. Initiated in 1990, the fund is supposed to be used to fund small-scale infrastructure projects and social services, but have been the subject of numerous cases of alleged corruption.

This includes a case in 2013 where lawmakers’ funds were allegedly funneled to the projects of 82 dodgy non-government organizations, 10 of which were linked to businesswoman Janet Napoles.

In the case against Revilla, prosecutors alleged that he received PHP224.5 million (more than US$4.164 million) in kickbacks from Napoles through his staff Richard Cambe.

His then-colleagues at the Senate, Jinggoy Estrada, and Juan Ponce Enrile, are also facing the same charge, but both men are out on bail. Like Bong, Estrada and Revilla are vying for the Senate in next year’s polls.

Despite his plunder charge and imprisonment, the COMELEC said Bong could still run in the elections.

Spokesperson James Jimenez told radio station DZMM in Filipino, “If there’s no final conviction, he can still run even if he’s in jail.”

But Bong’s case is not unique. This is not the first time that a jailed politician is running for public office. Senator Antonio Trillanes IV ran for senator — and won — in 2007 despite being incarcerated for rebellion.

It remains to be seen if Bong will be as successful.

Bong comes from a family of actors and politicians. Other than his politician wife and son, his father Ramon Revilla Sr. was a former senator and action star infamous for having multiple mistresses and children.

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