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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Apr 3, 2023



SEN. BONG REVILLA was supposed to have lunch with the entertainment press last Monday, March 27, but it had to be called off. 

He was rushed to the St. Luke’s in BGC due to severe stomach pains and tests showed that he has gallstones and his gallbladder was inflamed.

An emergency laparoscopy was performed on him to remove the swollen gallbladder. 

He was discharged after a couple of days later and he appeared on his Facebook Live show to tell his followers that his ‘agimat” worked and he is now okay.  

Last Monday, exactly a week later, he and wifey Rep. Lani Mercado finally had lunch with the press. 

They will soon celebrate their 37th wedding anniversary. 

They were first married in a civil wedding in California in 1986 and later had a church wedding at the St. Therese of Lisieux Shrine. Bong says he is so fortunate to have a wife like Lani.

“Maganda na, matalino pa, magaling sa public service, a good wife, a great mother to our kids and now, also a great grandmother, the whole package,” he says. 

Bong will soon have a new show on GMA-7, a weekly action-comedy titled “Walang Matigas na Pulis sa Matinik na Misis”. This is a remake of a 1994 movie he did with Lani, but now, he will have a new partner.

Playing his wife is Beauty Gonzales and he’s happy to work with her for the first time. 

As a senator, Bong is delighted that he got a high performance rating of 85% in the recent Boses ng Bayan survey conducted by RP-Mission and Development Foundation, one of the top public opinion poll bodies in our country. He placed number 2 among the 24 senators.

“I want to thank the Filipino people for their trust and confidence in me,” he says. “It serves as an incentive and an inspiration for me to exert more efforts in doing my job well as a public servant.”

Bong is very active in filing legislative measures that promote social justice and will greatly benefit what he called as “the least, the lost, and the last”. 

Among the bills he filed are his top priority pieces of legislation such SBN 21 which aims to expand the coverage provided under the Centenarians Act of 2016 to benefit those aged 80 and 90 years old since lesser Filipino senior citizens are reaching the age of 100. 

He is also pushing for the enactment of SBN 1964 or the ‘Kabalikat sa Pagtuturo Act’ which seeks to institutionalize the granting of Teaching Supplies Allowance to public school teachers, which shall be increased over time as provided in the law, to cover their actual expenses in the conduct of teaching.

Apart from his work in the Senate, Revilla has been consistently leading Bayanihan relief operations in different parts of the country to respond to the immediate needs of many Filipinos stricken by disasters that hit the nation such as earthquake, floods, volcanic eruption, etc. 

He had been providing food packs and extending cash assistance to the victims swiftly during the aftermath. Recently, he conducted a successive run of relief ops in several towns affected by the Mindoro oil spill.

“Wala tayong ibang hangarin kung ‘di ang pagsilbihan ang bayan. Kung ano man ang pagkilala na natanggap natin ngayon, ito ay bunga lang ng ating serbisyo na nagmula sa pagtitiwala ng mga Pilipino. Kaya mas galingan pa natin sa susunod – because the Filipino people deserve no less”, he adds.

The “Boses ng Bayan” is a nationwide survey held in all regions of the country from February 25 to March 8, 2023 with a total of 10,000 adult respondents.

Bong also blasted the Bureau of Immigration (BI) after a Filipino passenger intending to travel to Israel shared her experience in the hands of an Immigration Officer (IO) in detail, especially ‘irrelevant’ queries about her to the extent of demanding from her to produce her school yearbook. 

This caused the traveler to miss her flight despite being at the airport several hours before the scheduled time of departure. Worse, the traveler had to shell out an additional sum of money to cover rebooking expenses.

According to Bong, his office has received numerous concerns and complaints about the prevalence of arbitrary offloading at NAIA. He criticized the BI’s existing offloading practices saying that while the spirit behind it may be noble, the results speak for itself. 

According to the BI, of the 32,404 Filipinos offloaded in 2022, only 472 were related to human trafficking, 873 allegedly misrepresented themselves, while 10 were minors. 

“Sa lagpas 30,000 na inoffload at inabala ng immigration na yan, wala pang 4.2% niyan ang may semblance of basis. Mas nakakagalit, only 1.45% ang sinasabi nilang connected sa Human Trafficking,” Revilla pointed out. 

“Over 95% talagang inabala at pinagastos lang. Ibig sabihin, isa lang sa bawat dalawampung inoffload nila ang medyo may basis. ‘Di ba kalokohan ‘yan?,” the lawmaker stressed. 

“Sobrang daming naabala. Sobrang daming nasayang na oras at pera. This really says something about the accuracy and efficiency of their [Bureau of Immigration] performance.”

“Anong nangyayayari sa Bureau of Immigration? Nakakahiya! Hindi ganyang klase ng serbisyo publiko ang dapat natatanggap ng mga tao. Ngayon kasi, para bang all Filipinos are human traffickers unless proven otherwise!

"Bakit niyo hahanapan ng yearbook? Bakit niyo hahanapan ng graduation photo? Hindi ko maisip kung para saan. 

"Our people deserve to be treated better. Kaya kung hindi niyo matutuwid iyang di matapos-tapos na kalokohan niyo, mag-resign na lang kayo!” Bong says in disappointment.

The senator believes that the BI practice is a brazen disregard of the constitutionally guaranteed right to travel, explaining that it may even be an outright transgression on the power of the Courts to issue Hold Departure Orders (HDO) upon cause. 

“Parang daig pa nila ang korte. Napaka-absurd yata na yung nakagawa ng krimen, basta’t walang HDO makakaalis, pero yung mga ordinaryong Pilipino na gusto lang makaranas ng bakasyon sa ibang bansa, basta-basta lang iniipit at hindi pinaaalis. Over-stepping na yan,” he adds.

The practice of offloading continues despite existing rules laid down by the Department of Justice’ Memorandum Circular No. 036, s. 2015 that promulgated revised guidelines on Departure Formalities for International-Bound Passengers. 

The circular provides that only when a tourist passenger is identified by the immigration officer to have doubtful purpose of travel, fraudulent, falsified or tampered travel documents, or identified as a potentially trafficked person may he/she be not cleared for departure or recommended for deferred departure and turned over to the Travel Control and Enforcement Unit. 

The issuance also states that “[a]s much as practicable, secondary inspection shall not exceed 10 minutes unless extraordinary circumstances require a longer period of inspection”. 

“This is obviously being abused. Napakalaki ng latitude being given to these IOs. Sobrang broad ng authority at ng discretion. Daig pa nila mga consul sa pag-iissue ng visa,” Bong adds.