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June 26, 2017

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Plundering Philippine senator surrenders

MANILA -- A popular Philippine senator and action movie star surrendered Friday after an anti-graft court ordered his arrest on large-scale corruption charges in a rare spectacle of the country's political elite being made to answer for alleged crimes.

Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr., a member of a powerful political clan and one of the country's most famous movie and TV celebrities, arrived in a convoy of SUVs with his wife, children and fans at the Sandiganbayan anti-graft court in the capital. He was then brought to police headquarters, where his fingerprints and mug shots were taken before his detention. TV networks beamed his surrender live nationwide.

Revilla is one of three influential senators indicted early this month for allegedly receiving huge kickbacks from state anti-poverty and development funds. He says he is innocent.

"Even in my dreams I didn't see this coming," Revilla said at his mansion in Cavite province, south of Manila, where his fans and relatives gathered to show support before his trip to the court. "It's like a nightmare I can't wake up from."

Revilla's lawyer, Joel Bodegon said he filed a petition for bail and requested a hearing next week. Plunder carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment and is not bailable unless the judge deems the evidence weak.

The anti-graft court has not yet issued arrest warrants for the other two senators, Juan Ponce Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada.

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