Updated Dec 11, 2018, 6:56:00 AM
Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 10) — Days after former Senator Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr. was acquitted of plunder in the pork barrel scam and released on bail from detention, he is now focusing his energy on clearing his name.
The actor-politician made his first public appearance on Monday during the flag-raising ceremony at the Bacoor City Hall, where his wife Lani Mercado is the mayor.
He thanked his immediate family, their constituents, his friends, and supporters for providing him strength during his four and a half years in detention at Camp Crame after he was ordered arrested for allegedly amassing P224.5 million in kickbacks from businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles when he was still in office.
"Maraming beses na akong muntik bumitaw. Aaminin ko, may mga araw na akala ko ay hindi ko na malalagpasan ang pagsubok na pinagdadaanan ko. Pakiramdam ko kinuha na sa akin ang lahat. Halos limang taon akong nasa loob," he said.
He became emotional when he addressed his 91-year-old father, former actor and senator Ramon Revilla Sr. He promised his father he will clear the family's name from corruption allegations.
"As I promised you, lilinisin ko ang dinungisan nilang pangalan natin. Lumabas na po ang katotohanan na ang iyong anak ay walang kasalanan," he said.
The Sandiganbayan's First Division on December 7 ruled that the the prosecution failed to prove that Revilla was guilty beyond reasonable doubt for plunder. It said there was "not a single direct evidence" presented that Revilla benefited from the use of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). On the same day, he was released from detention after posting bail for his 16 graft charges that are still linked to the pork barrel scam.
Revilla alleged his political opponents "conspired" to besmirch the name he created as an actor and politician.
"Hindi biro mayurakan ng pangalan. Hindi biro manakawan ng halos limang taon. Pinaniwala ang publiko na isa kang magnanakaw gayong alam nila na imbento lang ang mga kaso," he said.
Detained Senator Leila de Lima, who was the Justice Secretary who filed charges against Revilla and former Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada in 2013, denied the cases were politically motivated.
"There was simply no reason to file a case against them other than the fact that evidence of their PDAF misuse was so blatant to be ignored by the PNoy (President Noynoy Aquino) administration, irrespective of the political affiliation of those charged," she said in a statement.
Revilla reiterated his innocence, adding those who made up allegations against him should instead ask for forgiveness from God.
"Iyan ang napatunayan ng hukuman, na wala akong ninakaw kahit sentimo mula sa taumbayan. Sa pagkaka-abswelto ko sa kasong ito, gusto ko na pong kalimutan ang mapait na kabanatang ito... Hindi na mahalaga kung mapapatawad ko sila, ang mahalaga ay sa Diyos sila humingi ng tawad," Revilla said.
The court ordered the accused to return P124.5 million to the government. Sandiganbayan Associate Justice Maria Theresa Gomez-Estoesta, who dissented from the majority decision, found it "odd" that the court did not exempt Revilla from civil liability when it refused to conclude that the P87.26 million in bank deposits made by the former senator and his immediately family were "the very same money from Napoles." But Revilla's lawyers said he is excluded from the order because only convicted Napoles and his staff Richard Cambe have civil liability.
Related: Acquitted but ordered to return money? The 'odd' case of Bong Revilla
Aside from clearing his family's name, Revilla is also focusing on campaigning for his Senate return in 2019.