Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. will no longer play the role of Eduardo V. Manalo, Iglesia Ni Cristo’s executive minister, in the epic film Ang Huling Sugo (The Last Messenger).
This is according to a reliable source from the senator’s camp.
The source told PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) that it was the actor-politician’s decision to remove himself from the film.
“Naisip niya na pag itinuloy niya yung role, baka lahat ng kontrobersiya na ipinupukol sa kanya ngayon, madawit [yung pelikula].
“Kasi, papapelan niya yung pinakamataas, inisip niya, nakakahiya…
“Na iisipin ng mga tao, yung gumaganap ng pinakamataas na pinuno ng Iglesia ni Cristo, maraming isyu ngayon,” said the source.
Revilla is one of three senators—the two others are Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada—sued for plunder and malversation of funds by the country's Department of Justice and National Bureau of Investigation because of his alleged involvement in the malversation of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), now widely known as the pork-barrel scam.
In one of Revilla’s meetings with members of his staff, who are also INC members, the source quoted the actor-politician saying: “Baka mag-backout na lang ako. Pero kung gusto pa rin nila akong manatili, sige, itutuloy ko. Pero nahihiya ako na baka mamaya ay mapulaan ang Iglesia.”
Before the issue of pork barrel misuse came out, according to the source, Revilla had been very helpful and supportive of Ang Huling Sugo.
Arlyn dela Cruz, the assigned executive producer for the INC movie, also gave the same observation.
Dela Cruz said, “Senator Revilla helped us a lot in the pre-production stage of the movie.
“He did not hesitate in lending his expertise in helping us in the preparation. We are grateful.”
However, Dela Cruz did not comment as to who will replace Bong in the movie, due for release in time for Iglesia ni Cristo’s centennial celebration next year, 2014.
“Veteran actors are considered for the role [who are] as formidable as the senator’s stature in the Philippine movie industry,” Dela Cruz said without giving other details.
Revilla’s wife, Congresswoman Lani Mercado, who is supposed to play the wife of Eduardo V. Manalo, is also out of the project.
“Gusto niya rin namang suportahan si Senator Bong ngayong mga panahong ito,” added the source.