In one of the biggest corruption scandals to hit the Philippines in years, a senator has been arrested for his alleged involvement in a corruption scheme.
Dozens of co-conspirators and two other senators are also facing arrest. CCTV’s Barnaby Lo reports.
They traveled all the way from Cavite, a province south of the Philippine capital Manila, and hometown of embattled Senator Ramon Revilla, Jr. A small group of women gathered outside the country’s anti-graft court on Friday to support the senator as he turned himself in after being indicted on charges of graft and plunder.
Revilla insists he took no part in diverting hundreds of millions of dollars in discretionary funds to non-existent charities. Dozens others have also been issued arrest warrants, while two other opposition senators, former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada, son of former President Joseph Estrada, who himself was ousted on corruption charges, may also be facing arrest.
The Aquino administration says the indictment and arrest of a Philippine senator over the alleged misuse of government funds are a testament to its seriousness in the fight against corruption. Critics say Aquino’s brand of justice has been selective at best.
Thousands of people marched to the country’s national park last year to demand an end to allocating so-called pork barrel funds for lawmakers and the president and to push for the prosecution of everyone involved in the scam – opposition or ally. Since then, similar, smaller protests have taken place.
Meanwhile, Revilla says he isn’t abandoning plans to run for president in 2016, even if he has to do it from behind bars. How that turns out could very well be the measure of the success of Aquino’s anti-corruption campaign.