MANILA - Former Senator Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr. was all smiles on Friday when he went out of the Sandiganbayan after the court cleared him of plunder charges over the multi-billion peso Priority Development Assistance Fund scam.
Dozens of supporters were outside the court, carrying banners with images of Revilla's roles in old movies like "Panday" and "Captain Barbell," waiting for a word from the actor-turned-politician. The former lawmaker, however, went straight to the police's vehicle without answering any questions.
Revilla's son, Jolo, briefly spoke with members of the media outside the Sandiganbayan.
"Maraming salamat sa inyong pagmamahal. Ramdam namin ito lahat. Masaya po ang aming Pasko kasi makakasama na namin siya," the younger Revilla said who appeared excited to spend time with his father who missed 4 Christmases with them.
(Thank you for your love. We really felt it. We're very happy because we can be with him this Christmas.)
"God is really, really good. Best Christmas ever sa aming pamilya," the senator's wife, Bacoor City Mayor Lani Mercado-Revilla, added in a separate interview with DZMM Teleradyo.
Voting 3-2, the Sandiganbayan First Division cleared Revilla of plunder, citing the prosecution's "failure" to prove that he received P224-million in kickbacks from the pork barrel scam.
The anti-graft court, however, convicted Revilla's former chief of staff Richard Cambe and businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles, who owns the non-government organizations used in the plunder scheme.
Revilla spent 4 years in detention because of the plunder charges. Despite his acquittal, he still faces 16 counts of graft over the so-called "pork barrel" scam.
This is why the former senator went straight to the Office of the Clerk of Court and posted P480,000 bail after his promulgation.
"Maraming salamat sa hustisya. Maraming salamat sa mga kababayan ko," Revilla said after posting bail for his temporary liberty. (Thank you very much for the justice. Thank you to my countrymen.)
Meanwhile, Mercado-Revilla said the family hopes to bring her husband home in Bacoor, Cavite tonight as they continue to complete the process for his release. She said her husband is excited to see his father, former Senator Ramon Revilla Sr.
Asked about her learnings from the ordeal, Mercado-Revilla said: "When something bad happens, you just close the book. You have to move on as soon as possible."