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.
– Marje Pelayo |UNTV News & Rescue