Revilla prays for De Lima: Stay strong, we are both prisoners now
Former Senator Ramon Revilla Jr. on Thursday encouraged Senator Leila De Lima to stay strong now that they are both detainees at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center.
Revilla attended the scheduled signing of the pre-trial order at the Sandiganbayan First Division, paving the way for the start of his trial on June 22.
While Revilla is detained for alleged plunder over the pork barrel scam, De Lima is detained on drug-related charges for allegedly raising campaign funds from the drug trade at the New Bilibid Prison when she was justice secretary.
“Pare-pareho na kaming prisoner ngayon ‘di ba. Dalangin ko sa kanya, pakatatag din siya,” Revilla said.
(We are both prisoners now. I pray that she also becomes strong.)
At least now, De Lima also feels the difficulties of being in detention as she faces trial, Revilla said.
It was during De Lima’s stint as justice secretary when Revilla and two other former senators, Jinggoy Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile, were investigated by the Department of Justice and the National Bureau of Investigation for their alleged involvement in the pork barrel scam.
“At least ngayon naramdaman niya kung ano yung naranasan naming hirap. Siya nagpakulong sa amin ‘di ba,” Revilla said.
(At least now she also feels the difficulties we underwent. She was responsible for our being in detention, after all.)
Revilla said he could only hope he and De Lima will be able to surpass their legal adversities.
“Sana malagpasan ng bawat isa sa amin kung ano yung hinaharap namin ngayon,” Revilla said.
(I hope we can both surpass the difficulties we are facing now.)
A vocal critic of President Rodrigo Duterte, De Lima was detained for her purported involvement in the Bilibid drug trade as alleged against her by the president himself.
De Lima has branded herself a political prisoner, although she was also criticized of using her position to persecute the former administration’s rivals in the pork barrel scam investigation.
Revilla on Thursday signed the pre-trial order, paving the way for the court to proceed with the full-blown trial for plunder of Revilla and the accused scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles.
Revilla surrendered and was detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in 2014 for plunder charges.
Based on the case, Revilla allegedly pocketed P224.5 million in kickbacks from his Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) in a scheme reportedly orchestrated by Napoles to use pork barrel fund in ghost projects.
Also detained for plunder is Revilla’s colleague, former senator Jinggoy Estrada, who was denied bail while accused of pocketing P183.7-million kickbacks. Former senator Juan Ponce Enrile, now out on bail, is accused of receiving P172.8-million kickbacks.
Napoles meanwhile, is detained at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig.
The senators’ plunder and graft charges were filed with the Sandiganbayan by the Ombudsman’s Office of the Special Prosecutor in June 2014. It was only this year when the plunder cases reached the trial stage. JPV/rga
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