Kap Bong Revilla delivers ‘amazing’ speech
MANILA, Philippines–As the threat of arrest loomed over him, Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. on Monday dared President Aquino to do his job with “love,” not hate, and avoid the pitfall of being remembered as the leader who jailed the opposition.
Delivering some sort of a farewell speech, Revilla expressed readiness to be jailed over the alleged P10-billion pork barrel scam, along with coaccused Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada.
In an emotional speech replete with references to love, unity and forgiveness, Revilla thanked his family, his colleagues, and movie fans for their moral support.
Before a huge crowd inside the session hall, including his wife, Cavite Rep. Lani Mercado, and their children, the senator prefaced his speech with a call: “Enough of mudslinging; enough of slandering.”
“President Aquino, the future of this country in the next two years depends on you. I hope that you use your power to solve the problems of our countrymen,” he said.
The senator then proceeded to spell out the urgent tasks that lay ahead for Aquino: providing livelihood; speeding up the response to the needs of Super Typhoon Yolanda survivors; intensifying the anticrime campaign; fixing the dilapidated Ninoy Aquino International Airport; promptly responding to the needs of the sick in public hospitals; plugging the looming power crisis to keep the economy afloat; providing education and social services; and ensuring sufficient food on the table of Filipinos.
“Lead this country not with hatred but with love. Lead the country toward unity and not partisanship. Push our nation’s interest and not political agenda,” he said, pointing out that only a few are given such a chance to lead the country.
“You still have two remaining years. It isn’t right that you and your administration will be remembered for only jailing non-allies. Jailing your oppositors should not be the only achievement and legacy you will be leaving behind,” he said.
In the same breath, Revilla aired a call for unity and cooperation with the President, saying, “Let’s all work together to make the lives of each Filipino decent, especially those leading hand-to-mouth existence.”
“I have no doubt that the country could rise again through the cooperation of the leaders. There are many brilliant people in Congress, in the bureaucracy, in the private sector. We only need to join hands. The remaining two years are still enough. You can still do it, Mr. Aquino. We can do it,” he said in the speech titled “Salamat, Kaibigan (Thank You, Friend).”
Politics of division
Revilla acknowledged that the challenge to every government official was to go down to the grassroots and find out the needs of the people.
“Enough of squabbling. Let’s put a stop to the politics of division. Enough of vindictiveness. Let the different colors of the flag symbolize our unity, not our differences,” he said.
“My advocacy from now on is to remove distinctions between yellow, green, blue and red. The same blood runs through our veins, and that is Filipino blood,” he said.
Revilla expressed hope that the pork scandal that tarnished the image of Congress wasn’t part of a grand design to totally abolish it through Charter change.
Otherwise, Revilla insisted his “conscience is clear” and appealed to Filipinos to let him and his co-accused face the plunder charges filed by the Ombudsman in the Sandiganbayan last Friday.
“Let’s leave it to the courts, and I will defend myself there,” he said.
Anticipating the worst from the indictment, Revilla said he was taking the floor once again, and possibly for the last time “to express his sentiments.”
Congress is adjourning sine die this week, and reopens for the second regular session of the 16th Congress on July 28.
Revilla said the scam had destroyed many names, and yet there was no assurance that one could reclaim one’s integrity once cleared by the courts.
“Regardless Mr. President, I’m ready to be jailed and sacrifice because I know that at the right time, the truth will come out and prevail,” he said, adding he was confident the courts would let the truth prevail.
‘This is not the end’
Midway through his 30-minute speech, Revilla said he has his “own list”—and most thought he was speaking of his own list of suspects in the scam, but then he dispelled this when he started to grin.
What he stated next was a list of people he wanted to thank, and this was topped by God whom he thanked “for walking with me during these times of trial.”
He next thanked his father, ailing former Sen. Ramon Revilla Sr., for giving him strength, saying “Daddy, I love you. We will rise again,” as well as his wife and their children for their love.
Unlike his first privilege speech, Revilla Sr. didn’t show up at the Senate this time.
He thanked his colleagues one by one, expressing a personal message to each one.
To Estrada, he gave this message: “Kosa, do we need to be together on this? Perhaps, Daboy (Rudy Fernandez) is having a good laugh at us. Kidding aside, this is not the end for us. God is just preparing us for something better.”
“If my imprisonment is the key to the door of justice, I will gladly accept this. There will be true justice, if not now, at the perfect time,” he said. “I may be jailed, but not my dreams and love of country.”
“Don’t worry, I will not disappear. I shall return,” he said. To cap his speech, he switched on an audio-visual presentation about himself as a public servant, accompanied by his original composition, “Salamat, Kaibigan.”
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