Bong Revilla, family to visit Holy Land amid scam

Posted at 02/17/2014 5:37 PM | Updated as of 02/17/2014 9:49 PM

MANILA - Sen. Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr. and his family will be travelling to the Holy Land next month despite a call by the justice secretary to restrict his travel due to the pork barrel scam.

Revilla said he, his wife, Cavite 2nd District Rep. Lani Mercado, and three members of his family will visit Jerusalem and other parts of Israel this March.

"Wish ko ito, ang makapunta sa Holy Land kasama si Pastor. Sana matuloy, walang humarang," he said.

Revilla, Senator Jinggoy Estrada and Senator Juan Ponce Enrile are accused of pocketing millions of pesos in "kickbacks" after funneling their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to foundations set up by businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles.

The Department of Justice earlier told the Department of Foreign Affairs to cancel the passports of 37 respondents in the case filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) in connection with the pork barrel scam.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said there was sufficient basis to cancel the passports of the 37 people "in the interest of national security," and that they should be available when needed by the Ombudsman.

Revilla, however, gave assurances that he will return to the country to face the charges.

"Oo, siyempre. Wala akong kinakatakutan o tinatakbuhan. Haharapin ko yang mga kasong yan," he said.

He also said that he is ready to make an appeal to exercise his right to religious freedom before the Ombudsman and the DOJ.

"Pupunta ako sa Ombudsman at DOJ para kausapin sila. Dadasalin ko na malagpasan ko at ng aking pamilya ang pagsubok na ito," he said.

Revilla's lawyer earlier said the DFA cannot cancel the senator's passport without basis. -- Report by Mario Dumaual, ABS-CBN News