Bong Revilla: Hindi ako magnanakaw
MANILA - The camp of Senator Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr. on Thursday denied that the senator has pocketed money from his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel.
Revilla's lawyer, Joel Bodegon, said the senator takes exception to the statement of President Aquino that his client has not denied his involvement in the P10 billion pork barrel scam.
He said that from the beginning, Senator Revilla has maintained that he is not a thief.
"Sen. Revilla takes exception to the statement of the President that he has not denied involvement in the so-called PDAF scam. Baka kaya siya walang naririnig ay dahil ayaw niyang makinig at hindi siya nakikinig. Senator Revilla from the beginning has maintained na hindi siya magnanakaw at wala siyang ninakaw sa pondo ng bayan," he said.
Aquino took a swipe at politicians who have been accused of misusing their PDAF. Three senators - Bong Revilla, Jinggoy Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile - along with 34 other individuals are facing plunder, graft, malversation and bribery charges before the Office of the Ombudsman for their alleged links to the pork barrel scam.
The President said these politicians have not categorically denied stealing from the public coffers.
"Sa sobrang hirap nga pong ipaliwanag, tila sinunod na lamang nila ang payo ng isang matandang pulitiko sa kanilang kampo: Kung hindi mo kayang ipaliwanag, palabuin mo na lang lahat; kung hindi mo kayang bumango, pabahuin mo na lang lahat; kung hindi mo kayang gumuwapo, papangitin mo na lang lahat. Narinig naman ninyo ang hirit nila: Pare-pareho lang naman daw kaming lahat," he said.
"Ang tugon ko po diyan: Hindi tayo pareho. Hindi kami nagnakaw, at hindi kami magnanakaw; kami ang umuusig sa magnanakaw."
He also said his critics are muddling the issue allegedly based on the advice of an "old politician" in their camp.
"Tila sinunod na lamang nila ang payo ng isang matandang pulitiko sa kanilang kampo: Kung di mo kayang ipaliwanag, palabuin mo na lang.
"Sa hinaba-haba ng mga kontra-paratang na ibinato sa atin, ni minsan, hindi ko narinig ang katagang, 'Hindi ako nagnakaw,'" he said in an address to the nation broadcast live by TV networks.
The President's speech Wednesday was the first time that Aquino asked networks for airtime to directly address the public.
Estrada earlier accused Malacañang of administering "selective justice" for going after him and other opposition lawmakers linked to the scam. The senator, however, did not defend himself from the allegations regarding misuse of his PDAF.
He also revealed that the Department of Budget and Management gave out additional funds to senators who voted to convict former Chief Justice Renato Corona during his impeachment trial.