Bong Revilla won’t return P124-M to the government – Lawyer

Marje Pelayo   •   January 4, 2019   •   3388

FILE PHOTO: Former Senator Bong Revilla Jr.

CAVITE, Philippines – In December 2017, the Sandiganbayan acquitted former Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. of plunder over his involvement in the multi-billion pork barrel scam.

Likewise, the anti-graft court ordered the former senator to return P124.5 million of civil liabilities to the National Treasury.

According to Revilla’s legal counsel, Atty. Reody Anthony Balisi, the dispositive portion of the Sandiganbayan’s decision was clear that only those found guilty were required to return the amount — in Revilla’s case, it should be Janet Lim Napoles and Revilla’s former aide Richard Cambe.

“All those who are criminally liable are civilly liable. So with these qualification in the dispositive portion of the decision of the Sandiganbayan, you apply the Article 100, base on the discussion above is Senator Bong criminally liable? He is not,” Balisi explained.

“Therefore, if you apply Article 100 then he cannot be said to have a civil liability since he is not criminally liable. There is no basis for any civil liability. There is no basis for him to return to the national treasury solidarily liable or jointly liable the amount of P124.5 million,” he added.

Revilla’s wife, Bacoor City Mayor Lani Mercado, supports this argument and maintained that her husband has no obligation to return the said amount.

“Siya naman po ay acquitted so I don’t think that particular item has applied on him. According to our legal team hindi po ganoon,” Mercado said.

The former senator, meanwhile, maintained that he did not steal anything from the people’s money and that everything he has as a citizen he earned from years of being an actor prior to his entry to national politics.

“Lahat po ng mayroon ako ay bunga ng aking dugo at pawis sa pag aartista. Simula pa lang noong ako ay sampung taong gulang. Sa mga panahong karamihan ay natutulog pa, ako po ay kumakayod na para kumita at iyan nga ang napatunayan ng hukuman na wala akong ninakaw ni sentimo mula sa taumbayan,” he said.

Despite the controversies hounding her husband, Mercado said she appreciates that Revilla remains among the top 10 senatorial candidates in current surveys.

Based on the latest survey by the Social Weather Station (SWS), Revilla ranked seventh.

“Ako po ay lubusang nagpapasalamat sa lahat ng sumusuporta’t tumatangkilik sa kaniya bagamat maraming naganap noong nakaraan, ang tiwala ng tao at pagmamahal ay sa kanya pa rin,” she said.

Since the former senator’s acquittal, the Revilla family has been enjoying a normal life, according to Mercado. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Benedict Samson)

 

13 senators to possibly favor reimposition of death penalty

Maris Federez   •   July 25, 2019

The reinstatement of the death penalty may have a glimmer of hope to be passed in the Senate with a seeming majority vote.

Thirteen senators have, so far, manifested to vote for it which include Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Senators Bong Go, Ronald Dela Rosa, Sherwin Gatchalian, Aquilino Pimentel III, Panfilo Lacson, Lito Lapid, Imee Marcos, Bong Revilla, Francis Tolentino, Cynthia Villar, Pia Cayetano and Manny Pacquiao.

“Basta death penalty, kahit anong paraan, lethal injection , kahit ano, basta death penalty [As long as it’s death penalty, however way it is done. Lethal injection, whatever, as long as it’s death penalty],” said Senator Manny Pacquiao.

Thirteen is enough a number to have the bill passed in the higher chamber of Congress.

However, this could still narrow down as the versions they are pursuing vary, with most of them wanting to limit the imposition of the death penalty to high-level drug trafficking only.

This is in contrary to what President Rodrigo Duterte is pushing which is also to include plunder.

The senators are also divided as to how the said capital punishment must be carried out.

On the other hand, ten senators comprised of Senators Franklin Drilon, Risa Hontiveros, Leila De Lima, Francis Pangilinan, Juan Miguel Zubiri, Richard Gordon, Grace Poe, Nancy Binay, Ralph Recto and Joel Villanueva have openly opposed the bill.

Senator Sonny Angara has yet to state his position as he prefers to hear the debates regarding the death penalty first. (with reports from Nel Maribojoc) /mbmf

Sandiganbayan sides with Enrile on pork barrel case

Maris Federez   •   April 30, 2019

The Sandiganbayan has ordered the Office of the Ombudsman to produce the evidence against former Senator Juan Ponce Enrile on the P172.8 million plunder case against him.

This is in response to the petition filed by the camp of former lawmaker before the Sandiganbayan Third Division to order the Ombudsman “to produce and permit the copying or photographing of any and all documents” as specified in the bill of particulars.

They argued that they need time “to study and consider the materials before trial is held.”

In its 6-page resolution issued on April 24, the graft court granted Enrile’s motion.

The Sandiganbayan said, “Enrile has absolute control on how to go about his defense. If in his mind, he needed to inspect or copy pieces of evidence [not privileged] which are material for him to make an intelligent defense, then he is allowed by the court to ask for the inspection or production of these documents.”

The court cited Section 10, Rule 116 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure which allows the former Senate president to avail this remedy, considering the prosecution made use of government resources to prepare its case.

Therefore, on the argument that the request is equivalent to premature presentation of evidence, the court said “Ombudsman prosecutors were wrong to call Enrile’s motion premature.

The Sandiganbayan, however, said the scope of the evidence that Enrile may access is only limited to documents related to the itemized charges against him.

Enrile is accused of pocketing some P172.8 million of his pork barrel or Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) by channeling the money to the fake nongovernment organizations of convicted plunderer Janet Lim Napoles.

He was initially detained at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City but was later released by the court on humanitarian grounds considering that he is already 95 years old.

Associate Justice Ronald Moreno wrote the resolution, with the concurrence of Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang and Associate Justice Bernelito Fernandez.  –Maris Federez

Sandiganbayan allows Estrada, Napoles to seek plunder case dismissal

Aileen Cerrudo   •   March 20, 2019

(L-R) Former Senator Jinggoy Estrada and businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles

The Sandiganbayan has allowed senatorial candidate Jinggoy Estrada and businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles to file for the dismissal of the plunder charge against them.

The 5th division of the Sandiganbayan has given both parties 10 days to file their demurrer of evidence. The prosecution will also be given 10 days to respond.

The resolution states: “After a meticulous examination of the totality of evidence presented by the prosecution, both testimonial and documentary, the Court resolves to grant the present motion of the accused, to sufficiently provide him an opportunity to challenge the sufficiency of the prosecution’s evidence establishing material elements o the offense charged to support a judgment of guilt.”

Estrada and Napoles are facing plunder and graft charges following their involvement in the ‘pork barrel scam’. Estrada is accused of amassing P180 million kickback from the Priority Development Assistance Fund of bogus non-government organizations which is reportedly linked to Napoles.

READ: Janet Napoles to serve a lifetime in jail over PDAF scam

Estrada denies his involvement with the ‘pork barrel scam’ and connection with Napoles. Meanwhile, Napoles is already convicted in a separate plunder case in December last year.—Aileen Cerrudo

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