‘Revilla’s speech for supporters, not critics’

DISPUTING the Palace’s claim that people disapproved of his privilege speech on Monday, the camp of Senator Bong Revilla said the controversial speech was in fact designed to address the almost 20 million Filipinos who elected him to office.

“What better way to thank and express his appreciation to them but through a song, singing it there at the plenary hall of the Senate,” said Revilla’s spokesman, lawyer Joel Bodegon.

In an interview with MST, Bodegon said Revilla’s speech was also designed to be conciliatory, a call for unity, and for government institutions, like the Senate and the House of Representatives, to regain the trust of the Filipino people.

“His privilege speech was very reconciling and the way he delivered it very presidential,” Bodegon said, adding that the manner of the speech unashamedly reflected the “real” Bong Revilla.

“It’s really showbiz because he’s a part of the world,” Bodegon said, referring to the audio-visual presentation where Revilla sang a song – Salamat Kaibigan [Thank Your Friend] – he himself composed.

“He wants to prove that showbiz people are also capable of becoming good public servants. They can also perform their job as politicians well. So we should not look down at showbiz people entering politics,” said Bodegon.

“Senator Bong called on the President to attend to the country’s tremendous problems, like rebuilding the badly-hit communities in the Visayan region,” he added.

In fact, Bodegon said, Revilla was among the first to bring help to victims of super typhoon Yolanda, “but it did not come out in the media because he did not want it to be publicized. He silently helped the Yolanda victims.”

“This is a democracy. [Critics] are all entitled to what they think,” Bodegon said, but he stressed there was nothing wrong in asking President Benigno Aquino III to do his job with love rather than hate and being wary of leaving a legacy of partisanship rather than unity.

“Lead the country towards unity and not partisanship. Push our nation’s interest and not political agenda. The opportunity being afforded for one to become a President is very rare. And President Aquino is lucky,” Revilla said in his emotional speech

“It is not right and not good that you and your administration would be remembered for sending to jail those who are not your allies. Jailing your oppositors should not be the only achievement and legacy you will be leaving behind,” said Revilla.

Revilla also urged Aquino to stop divisive politics and revenge and help promote unity and not differences.

Bodegon revealed the aim of the speech after Malacañang said netizens have an “overwhelming” negative view of Revilla’s privilege speech.

“Our new media team has been tracking citizens’ reaction to Senator Revilla’s privilege speech,” Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma said. “The overwhelming trend is negative and we agree with our bosses.”

Coloma said the Palace’s new media team gathered the reaction of 2,751 netizens and blogs, online news sites, and other social media platforms showed that 99.93 percent of the respondents were against Revilla.

Coloma, however, acknowledged that netizens comprise only a limited part of the populace and that there will also be efforts to track the sentiments of citizens who are not online.

Coloma also said he would not categorize Revilla’s speech as ridiculous. “We are in a democracy. And I think what he did is covered not only by the rules of the Senate but by freedom of expression as well,” he said.

But he disagreed with Revilla’s claim that the President was a vengeful person and was on a vendetta against his political opponents.

“As I know him, he is not vengeful. And if we go by the pulse of the Filipino people, it is clear that a big chunk of our citizenry does not agree with that claim,” Coloma said.

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