MALACAñANG rebuffed Senator Ramon ‘Bong’ Revilla Jr., one of the principal accused in the P10-billion pork barrel scam, on Wednesday after the lawmaker challenged President Benigno Aquino 3rd and his Cabinet to undergo a lifestyle check.
Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda told a press briefing Revilla’s dare was “irrelevant” and that any lifestyle check on the president and his men would not be a factor in Revilla’s credibility.
“So what’s the relevance of his challenge to us? The point is how does it improve his credibility? Will it improve his credibility? Well, let’s say all of us passed a lifestyle check, will that improve his credibility? It doesn’t. It’s irrelevant. So what is the point?” the Palace spokesman said.
Instead of Revilla dragging other people into the issue, Lacierda said it would be best for him to just answer the allegations raised against him by pork barrel scam witnesses.
“Ang maganda siguro pandayin niya ng husto yung kaso niya. Di ba? Pandayin di ba? Huwag na siyang mandamay. Stick to [the]case. Answer the issues against him and that’s it,” Lacierda pointed out.
Revilla is also known as Panday [blacksmith]after he played the lead role in a movie of the same title, a remake of the original Fernando Poe Jr. starrer.
The lawmakers issued the challenge in response to Technology Resource Center official Dennis Cunanan’s dare for Revilla and the other respondents in the case to subject themselves to a lifestyle check. Instead of accepting the witness’s challenge, Revilla attacked Aquino to prove his point that Malacanang and politics were behind the campaign to discredit him.
Revilla has been playing the political chip to divert the public’s attention from his involvement in the priority development assistance fund anomaly that was allegedly masterminded by now jailed businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles.
But Lacierda maintained that Revilla was barking up the wrong tree and that the latter’s tactic would not do him any good.
“A lifestyle check with the other members who are not part of the case will not make him more credible or less credible. It is irrelevant to the issue that surrounds him,” the Palace official emphasized.
Lacierda admitted that while they would want to see the conviction of those involved in the pork barrel mess, they had no control over the judiciary.
“This is where the separation of powers are very, very clear. We don’t have control over the pace of the cases. Would we like the cases resolved as in any case, the cases that we filed under this administration?
Certainly we would like them resolved under this administration. But do we have control over the pace of the judiciary? No, we do not,” said the Palace official.
Meanwhile, Revilla said he already authorized the Office of the Ombudsman to look into his wealth when he filed his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN).
“My life is an open book. Being public officers, we are always under the scrutiny of the public eye,” he said.
Besides Malacang officials, Revilla added that these lifestyle checks should be “expanded” to cover his fellow senators whether or not they are involved in the case.
“Kung talagang kailangan pang mag-conduct ng mga lifestyle check outside of the SALNs and the Ombudsman, dapat tingnan din sina Pangulong Aquino, Secretary Butch Abad, Secretary Mar Roxas, at ang buong gabinete,” he said.