"I will rise again," Sen. Bong Revilla declared on Friday, as he turned himself in at the Sandiganbayan amid the shrieking of his fans and the jostling among photographers and court employees that led to broken glass and shoes getting lost in the mad dash to cover the first high-profile arrest in the P10-billion pork barrel scam. Just like in the movies.
He said his arrest would not stop his plan to run for president in 2016.
"I will run if the people demand it," he said. "Who knows, for the first time, we'll have a President who is a prisoner."
An action movie hero who parlayed his popularity into a career in politics, Revilla, 47, was the first politician to be arrested on charges of plunder and graft in the large-scale diversion of rural-development funds exposed by the Inquirer in July last year.
His coaccused, Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile, also indicted for plunder and graft in the Sandiganbayan on June 6, are set to surrender, next Monday at the earliest when the antigraft court issues warrants for their arrest.
The alleged brains behind the pork barrel scam, businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, is already under police custody, but in a case separate from the alleged plundering of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
Revilla travelled to Manila in a 10-vehicle convoy with family members and fans from his home in Bacoor town, Cavite province, where he had been gathering his supporters for televised denials of taking any part in the pork barrel scam and blaming his predicament on politicking by the administration of President Aquino.
"They may put me in jail, but not my love for you," Revilla told his supporters before setting out for Manila to surrender, a day after the Sandiganbayan issued a warrant for his arrest.
Reading the Bible
Asked by reporters how he would spend his time in jail, Revilla said he would read the Bible and work out. He said he was bringing only one bag of clothing and he was ready to do his laundry himself. Revilla urged the nation to remain vigilant.
"Look at what the administration is doing," he said. "Too much politics. Enough. We have families and they are hurt," he said, referring to fellow opposition lawmakers linked to the pork barrel scam.
Revilla's convoy left the family mansion at 8:40 a.m. Accompanying him were his wife, Cavite Rep. Lani Mercado and their grown-up children, including Cavite Vice Gov. Jolo Revilla. They arrived at the Sandiganbayan at 11 a.m.
Neatly dressed in a white polo and pants, Revilla, in a brief interview with the media, managed to say in jest: "It's as if I'm being buried alive. So this is how it will be when I die."
Asked by reporters, Revilla said his arrest would not deter his bid for the presidency in 2016.