Bong Revilla: I am a victim of PDAF scam
Former senator Ramon Revilla Jr. played victim to allegations that his pork barrel funds were spent on ghost projects for kickbacks.
Revilla made this statement after two beneficiaries of alleged ghost projects funded from his Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) testified and denied receiving agricultural and livelihood kits from the senator during Revilla’s plunder trial before the Sandiganbayan First Division Thursday.
Efren Notorio, a barangay (village) kagawad, and Sofronio Jimenez, a farmer, both of Quezon province, took the witness stand and denied their signatures on the alleged list of beneficiaries. They said their signatures were forged.
After the hearing, Revilla lamented that his PDAF was spent on ghost projects, saying that was the fault of the implementing agency and not his office.
“Implementing agency ‘yun. I have nothing to do with this, hindi ko kilala ‘tong mga tao na ‘to,” Revilla said in an ambush interview with reporters.
Revilla acknowledged that the beneficiaries of his ghost pork barrel projects were victims, adding that he was also a victim of the scam, having been detained for three years now.
“Alam natin biktima sila. Biktima rin ako e,” Revilla said.
He added, “Dapat managot dito kung sino yung dapat managot. Ghost project ito, sino yun? Sino yung nagpeke ng signature namin? Sino yung may kagagawan? Dapat yun ang managot. Not me.”
“Three years na ako nakakulong. Yun ang masakit dito,” he said.
During the trial, Quirino vice governor May Calaunan testified that she was interviewed by Ombudsman investigators in 2013 when she was then Diffun municipal mayor.
Calaunan said she was asked by Ombudsman investigators about Diffun municipality’s alleged receipt of agricultural and livelihood kits from Senator Revilla’s PDAF.
“The municipality of Diffun did not receive any agricultural production kits or livelihood projects from the PDAF of Senator Ramon Revilla during my incumbency as municipal mayor. I’m very sure,” Calaunan said, adding that she was “surprised” when Ombudsman investigators showed her documents showing the municipality received Revilla’s pork barrel projects.
Jeanien Cervantes, a Registration Officer I in Atimonan, Quezon, also testified that she was interviewed by Ombudsman investigators about her receipt of agricultural kits from Revilla.
Cervantes denied that the signature on the certificate of acceptance and acknowledgment receipt for Atimonan’s projects supposedly funded by Revilla’s pork barrel was hers.
“I was surprised to see my name on these documents because I haven’t seen those documents before and I even did not sign those documents,” Cervantes said.
Barangay kagawad Notorio and farmer Jimenez denied signing as beneficiaries of Revilla’s PDAF.
“Tinanong ako kung may natanggap na kasangkapang pagsasaka galing kay Senador Revilla. Sabi ko, wala ako natatanggap na tulong galing sa senador,” Notorio said.
“Hindi ko po alam, hindi ako ang lumagda nito,” Jimenez added when shown the list of beneficiaries.
Revilla’s lawyer, former Solicitor General Estelito Mendoza, said the witnesses’ testimonies were all “hearsay” because they were only informed of the ghost pork barrel projects when the Ombudsman investigators interviewed them. Mendoza called their testimonies a “waste of time.”
Mendoza even thanked the prosecution for helping the defense in proving that Revilla was not guilty of the scam.
“It seems that the prosecution is trying very hard to prove that Revilla is not guilty… Revilla has nothing to do with the misappropriation of the funds,” Mendoza said.
“The prosecution is trying very, very hard to prove we were correct, notwithstanding the resolution of the court, and I thank the prosecution for that,” he added.
Mendoza said the information only alleged that it was Napoles and her cohorts who embezzled the PDAF for their personal gain, but that the prosecution maintained that Revilla acted in conspiracy with Napoles and her employees.
Revilla is charged with plunder for allegedly pocketing P224.5 million in kickbacks from ghosts projects using his PDAF.
He surrendered and has been detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center since 2014.
Also detained for plunder is Revilla’s former colleague, Jinggoy Estrada, who is accused of pocketing P183.7-million in kickbacks. Former senator Juan Ponce Enrile is also accused of receiving P172.8-million but is out on bail for humanitarian reasons.
The alleged mastermind of the PDAF scam, Janet Lim Napoles, is detained at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City. CBB/rga
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