Plunder no longer bar to Palace run, says lawmaker
Though Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr. is one of the three senators charged with plunder in the P10-billion pork barrel scam, he could still be a viable candidate for the presidency in 2016, according to Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, president of the Lakas Christian Muslim Democrats (Lakas-CMD).
Lakas-CMD, which Revilla chairs, has not given up on its dream of seeing him in higher office.
Romualdez on Monday told reporters that even a plunder conviction was not a deterrent to a political comeback.
Revilla is facing a plunder complaint in the Office of the Ombudsman for allegedly channeling his pork barrel to dubious nongovernment organizations of businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles and pocketing part of the money.
“Remember, [Manila] Mayor Erap [Joseph Estrada] not only faced but was convicted of plunder and he almost made it in 2010. So, anything is possible in Philippine politics,” Romualdez said when asked if Revilla remained a viable candidate in the 2016 presidential election.
Estrada was ousted as President in 2001, and sought to reclaim the post in 2010, after he was convicted of plunder and subsequently pardoned. He placed second to Benigno S. Aquino III in the presidential election. He successfully ran for Manila mayor last year.
Romualdez noted that Revilla had remained popular, having topped the 2010 senatorial elections even if he ran under the party allied with former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Revilla, an actor who played the folk hero Panday before joining politics, got more than 19 million votes in 2010.
Romualdez said Lakas-CMD, which used to be the ruling party but whose strength radically diminished after the Arroyo administration, was working to beef up its ranks and was aiming to be a major player in the forthcoming polls.
Lakas-CMD is also open to teaming up with other political groups, he said.
“Lakas was a monolithic behemoth in the past. We hope we can further strengthen it so we can play a very, very dominant role. We like to hope in 2016. Whether we have to coalesce or work in tandem with other parties, those are options we have to consider upon proper consultation with our party members,” he said.
Revilla has denied involvement in a racket to pocket his pork barrel and derided the evidence against him as flimsy.
He accused the administration of trying to undermine the political opposition in preparation for the 2016 elections.
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