MANILA — The mother of slain actor Ramgen “Ram” Revilla hinted Sunday at political motives behind Senator Bong Revilla’s statements against her daughter, Ma. Ramona Bautista.
Ramona, who has been accused as accessory to the killing of her brother Ram, left the country Friday night under a cloud of suspicion for the murder.
She earlier claimed that she was abducted but recanted this Friday afternoon, saying she drove away to save her life and that she claimed to have been abducted out of shame. She denied involvement in the murder of her brother.
But while tagged as suspect in the crime, along with younger brother Ramon Joseph “RJ” Bautista, Ramona flew out of the country onboard a Cathay Pacific flight to Hong Kong Friday night, just hours after she denied involvement in the killing.
Their half-brother, Senator Revilla, called Ramona’s departure as a sign of guilt and had asked the Foreign Affairs department and the police to bring his half-sister back.
“The guilty must be punished! The unwarranted flight of Ramona Bautista is a sign of guilt that she has knowledge and direct participation in the commission of the crime. If there are others involved, be they my half brothers and sisters, they must bear the full force and weight of the law,” the senator said.
He earlier called for a reinvestigation on the case after Parañaque police tagged RJ and Ramona as suspects.
Genelyn Magsaysay, mother of Ram, RJ and Ramona, however, criticized Senator Revilla, saying in a statement that “elections are still far away, why is the campaign starting so early?”
She said the legislature cannot dictate on the executive branch of government and that the senator should not meddle in the case.
“My daughter left the country on her own for fear of her life,” Magsaysay said.
She added that her daughter is innocent of the accusations against her and authorities should instead consider her a direct witness to the crime.
Malacanang, meanwhile, said it will not move to bring Ramona back to the Philippines.
Deputy presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said over government-run Radyo ng Bayan Sunday that although the Palace is constantly updated on the case, “it is primarily a law enforcement issue that we will leave to the PNP (Philippine National Police).”
She said it will be up to the PNP and the Department of Foreign Affairs to bring Ramona, who is believed to have flown to Turkey from Hong Kong, to face whatever charges may be filed against her in court.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has reportedly directed the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to get in touch with the International Criminal Police Organization or Interpol.
De Lima said she has directed NBI Director Magtanggol Gatdula to coordinate with his counterparts in the Interpol for Ramona’s immediate arrest so that she could face criminal proceedings in the country.
“I asked the NBI to double check the Rules on Interpol-Red Notice if it’s possible to put someone in that list even without yet an arrest warrant being issued against (her),” she said in a text message.
At the same time, de Lima urged the Revilla family to cooperate with efforts of the government to bringing Ramona back.
“We expect the Revilla family, especially Senator Bong Revilla, to fully cooperate. They have a lot of explaining to do relative to the circumstances surrounding her flight,” she said.
De Lima agreed with Senator Revilla’s statement that his half-sister’s flight to Hong Kong is already an admission of guilt.
“That is always the presumption, unless negated by a good explanation for such flight. But the burden to prove otherwise falls on the suspect/respondent/accused concerned,” the Justice chief said.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), for its part, said it is waiting for a court order before it could heed Senator Revilla’s request to help bring back his half-sister.
“Once the DFA gets a court order, we will cause the cancellation of her passport so her movements are restricted and the Interpol mechanism may be explored to cause her return to the country,” said DFA Spokesman Raul Hernandez in a phone interview.
He added that the DFA can also tap its bilateral partners in countries where Ramona may have gone.
“The Philippines has extradition and mutual legal assistance treaties with several countries, which we can invoke to help locate as well as cause the return to the country of persons evading criminal charges or punishment,” the DFA official said.
Asked whether the Philippines has an extradition treaty with Turkey, where Ramona is rumored to be heading, Hernandez said there is none.
Ram, 23, was the first of nine children of former Senator Ramon Revilla Sr. with Magsaysay. The young actor was shot and stabbed dead inside his house in BF Homes, Paranaque City last October 28.
Witnesses, including Ram’s girlfriend Janelle Manahan, who survived the attack, and his stay-in personal assistant, earlier claimed that the actor and his siblings had been having arguments over Ram’s management of the P1 million monthly allowance being given by their father for the entire brood. (Jonathan de Santos/AH/ECV/AMN/Sunnex)