Revilla, Estrada share ‘Noche Buena’ in jail to mark their ‘sad’ Christmas
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Ramon Revilla Jr. and Jose “Jinggoy Estrada,” fellow inmates for plunder over the alleged pork barrel scam, spent their “Noche Buena” together with their families on Christmas Day.
This was confirmed by Revilla’s wife Cavite Representative Lani Mercado-Revilla in an interview with ABS-CBN TV Patrol.
“Community na kami… Isa na kaming barangay (We’re a community, a barangay)… This is the first time we are celebrating it together with the Ejercitos,” Mercado said in the interview.
“Sa hirap at ginhawa, lungkot at saya,” she added.
The Cavite solon also broke down in tears as she shared that this was their first Christmas they celebrated as a family at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center, where Revilla and Estrada are detained as they stand trial for plunder.
“It’s a sad Christmas. We try to make the ambiance happy, pero may kulang. So we’ll bring Christmas to him on Christmas Day,” Mercado said.
She said their usual Christmas involved celebrating in the parade of the Metro Manila Film Festival, where Revilla usually participates as a famous movie actor. Now that they celebrated at Revilla’s detention cell as an inmate accused of a crime, “you find importance in the simplest of things,” Mercado said.
The Revilla’s Christmas was lonely as the Sandiganbayan First Division denied the senator’s bail. Mercado said, however, that she remains hopeful in the justice system.
“Hindi kami nawawalan ng pag-asa sa sistema ng hustisya ng bansa… We want to bring joy and hope despite the situation,” she said.
Mercado was mentioned in an Anti-Money Laundering Council Report (AMLC) report as being behind the alleged money laundering of Revilla’s purported kickbacks in the scam using Mercado’s real estate company Nature Concepts Development and Realty Corp.
The report said Revilla deposited P87.6 million in his and immediate family members’ bank accounts from April 6, 2006 to April 28, 2010 – around the same period that principal whistleblower Benhur Luy alleged that Revilla through his aide and lawyer Richard Cambe received kickbacks from his projects funded by his Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF).
According to the report, Mercado’s Nature Concepts received substantial amounts worth P27.745 million, the bulk of which were deposited close to the dates Cambe allegedly received Revilla’s kickbacks from Luy.
The AMLC also noted that Mercado’s company received the money despite being non-operational and having insufficient capital.
Revilla and Estrada, along with Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, are charged for allegedly coursing their PDAF to ghost projects for kickbacks under the scheme of alleged mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles. Napoles is locked up at the Camp Bagong Diwa female dormitory, while Enrile is under hospital detention.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.