Whoever advised Sen. Bong Revilla to sue pork barrel scam whistleblowers Benhur Luy and Merlina Sunas may be aware of what’s legal and what’s not, but apparently knows next to nothing about public perception.
Revilla is one of the 38 people facing plunder complaints in the P10-billion Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam. The lawsuit is seen as an attempt to delay his prosecution. Instead, he comes across as just another school yard bully who is using his power and his position to stifle the voices of small people.
The Office of the Ombudsman, however, has not yet filed a case against any of the 38 before the Sandiganbayan. It may take a few more months before such action is taken, if it is taken at all.
There is no need to presume Revilla innocent until proven guilty because he has not even been charged of any crime at this time. It may be possible that the Ombudsman may opt not to file plunder charges against him, in which case the senator from Cavite would have needlessly damaged his own reputation.
Moreover, Revilla went beyond the norms of reason when he asked the whistleblowers to return the P502 million from his PDAF to his office.
Why doesn’t the actor-senator just demand that Luy and Sunas be publicly tarred and feathered for daring to name him as having misappropriated his pork barrel?
Being the better known of the two, Luy has never publicly stated that Sen. Bong Revilla personally received commissions or kickbacks from his pork barrel allocations that were forwarded to the ghost non-government organizations set up by Janet Lim-Napoles.
Revilla insists he is innocent of any wrongdoing relative to the PDAF scam. He argues that his signatures were forged by the Napoles-controlled NGOs. If this can be proven, then Revilla will come out of this mess smelling like a rose. He may even revive his dream of becoming vice president, or even president.
In suing two small players, however, he has already stuck his neck out. Surely he knows that Filipinos always root for the underdog. In fact, most of his hit movies have played on this theme.
Bong Revilla can still salvage his reputation by publicly announcing that he is withdrawing his case, and is forgiving Luy and Sunas for linking his good name to the scam.
The year is drawing to an end. For showbiz folk, this means one thing. The Metro Manila Film Festival will soon be holding its latest edition. For the past many years, no Metro Filmfest is complete without a Bong Revilla movie, every one of which turns out to be a hit at the box office.
Revilla may be in for a rude awakening if he decides to join the annual film festival this year, and see how his popularity has waned dramatically. His entry may attract more flies than paying customers.
All because his public persona has suddenly shifted, from a defender of the oppressed to an onion-skinned politician who thinks nothing of throwing the kitchen sink at two hapless whistleblowers.