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)