FILE PHOTO: Former Senator Ramon ” Bong” Revilla Jr.
QUEZON CITY, Philippines (UPDATED) – After four and a half years in jail, former Senator Ramon ‘Bong’ Revilla Jr. on Friday (December 7) walked free after the Sandiganbayan acquitted him of plunder in line with the P10-B ‘pork barrel’ scam.
Meanwhile, the anti-graft court’s Special Division convicted alleged ‘pork barrel’ queen and mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles and Revilla’s former aide Richard Cambe.
Revilla’s case was considered the first among the cases on the alleged misuse of lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
Along with his former colleagues former Senator Jinggoy Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile, Revilla was accused of amassing P224-M worth of kickbacks from Napoles during his time as a senator in exchange for funneling millions from his ‘pork barrel’ to Napoles’ ‘bogus’ non-governmental organizations (NGO).
Among those who voted for his acquittal were Associate Justices Geraldine Faith Econg; Edgardo Caldona; Georgina Dumpit-Hidalgo.
Meanwhile, Associate Justices Efren De La Cruz and Ma. Theresa Dolores Gomez-Estoesta voted for conviction.
In July 2016, Enrile was granted bail due to his health condition, being 92 years old then . Estrada was granted bail in September 2017 because the court said: “There is no strong evidence to show that he is a main plunderer” though the evidence shows some “glaring irregularities” in the disbursement of his PDAF.
Revilla was the first to be cleared of plunder among the three former senators. However, he is not yet cleared of graft charges. After the promulgation, he proceeded to post bail of P480,000 for 16 counts of graft pending before the Sandiganbayan.
Revilla thanked all his supporters because finally “the truth has come out.” He said he will proceed to a church and pay respect to his mother’s grave before he visits his father, Ramon Revilla Sr.
Revilla is running for senator in the 2019 midterm elections.
The second division of the Sandiganbayan has dismissed the civil case filed by the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) against former President Ferdinand Marcos and wife Imelda Marcos for insufficient evidence over P1 billion worth of alleged ill-gotten wealth.
Based on the decision of the anti-graft court, the PCGG failed to present strong evidence against the Marcoses.
“The plaintiff Republic failed to prove by preponderance of evidence that the defendants by themselves, or in conspiracy with defendants Marcoses, obtained ill-gotten wealth,” the decision reads.
“Lastly, the court also finds that the defendants failed to prove their respective counterclaims alluding to alleged damages sustained.”
According to the Malacañang, the PCGG can still submit an appeal in the Supreme Court.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the Marcoses should still be accountable if there is proof of ill-gotten wealth.
“Kung ill-gotten, we should always run after, basta ill-gotten (If it is ill-gotten we should always run after, as long as it is ill-gotten). It should be the policy of all governments to run after ill-gotten wealth,” he said.
The Sandiganbayan previously dismissed the P102 billion worth of forfeiture case against the Marcoses and other respondents last August.—AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)
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
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.
UNTV is a major TV broadcast network with 24-hour programming. An Ultra High Frequency station with strong brand content that appeal to everyone, UNTV is one of the most trusted and successful Philippine networks that guarantees wholesome and quality viewing experience.