Revilla gets movie star treatment at Hugpong campaign kickoff

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 12 2019 10:58 PM | Updated as of Feb 13 2019 03:24 PM

Senatorial candidate Bong Revilla greets supporters during the Hugpong ng Pagbabago campaign launch in Pampanga on February 12, 2019. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - After over four years of being incarcerated due to a plunder case, former senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. said Tuesday he could not believe that he still remains relevant among Filipinos.

Revilla’s acquittal in his plunder case in connection to the multi-billion pork barrel scam last December was just right in time for his new Senate bid, as he faces voters.

In the two-part campaign kickoff in Pampanga of Hugpong ng Pagbabago, a regional party formed by Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, the actor-turned-lawmaker got the loudest cheers from the crowd, who were enamored by his good looks which seemed unaffected by years of being behind bars.

“I was gone for 4 years and 6 months. I thought you don’t love me anymore. I thought you won’t scream for me anymore,” Revilla said at the kickoff of the HNP’s campaign in Pampanga.

“It’s as if all the hardships I had endured inside detention are now gone.”

The prosecution had accused the actor-turned-politician of embezzling P224 million in discretionary funds while he was still senator. He, however, is still facing separate pork barrel graft cases.

Government prosecutors insist that Revilla should pay P124.5 million to the government as civil liability along with his former staff Richard Cambe and businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles, who were both found guilty of plunder.

Riding high on his acquittal, Revilla offered to sing the song “Ikaw” to the crowd with his wife, Lani Mercado. 

The song is also a favorite piece of President Rodrigo Duterte, who wields significant influence over the coalition despite deciding to endorse a smaller set of candidates who are closest to his heart.