Sandiganbayan acquits Bong Revilla; convicts Janet Napoles over pork barrel scam

Marje Pelayo   •   December 7, 2018   •   5477

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

Some senators opt out of COVID-19 testing

UNTV News   •   March 20, 2020

Senate of the Philippines facade

Although Senate Majority Leader Miguel Zubiri has announced he tested positive for COVID-19 despite being asymptomatic, some senators have opted not to undergo a COVID-19 test.

Senators Risa Hontiveros and Kiko Pangilinan have decided not to go through COVID-19 testing, saying they are not manifesting any symptoms and are strictly following protocols given by the DOH.

Some of their co-lawmakers have already taken the test including Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Senators Grace Poe, Imee Marcos, Pia Cayetano, Ramon Revilla Jr., Francis Tolentino and the first two senators who initiated to undergo self-quarantine, Senators Sherwin Gatchalian and Nancy Binay.

Senator Christoper Bong Go has also undergone COVID-19 testing with President Rodrigo Duterte who came out negative. — by Harlene Delgado

Sandiganbayan junks raps vs Purisima, Napeñas over Mamasapano clash

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 22, 2020

The Sandiganbayan has dismissed the charges against former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima and ex-PNP Special Action Force chief Getulio Napeñas over the Mamasapano clash in 2015.

The dismissal of the charges against the two former police officers was due to the lack of probable cause to charge them of graft and usurpation of official functions complaints for their involvement in the anti-terrorist operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao in 2015.

The said operation led to the deaths of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos.

Purisima was charged for still leading the operation to kill terrorists Zulkifli bin Hir or Marwan and Abdul Basit Usman, under Oplan Exodus, despite being suspended as the Philippine National Police (PNP) chief.

Napeñas, on the other hand, was also charged for allegedly conspiring with Purisima.

Based on the resolution, Purisima and Napeñas cannot be charged due to the lack of sufficient evidence.

“There is no mention in the information, nor any evidence on record, that accused Napeñas received or expected to receive any material remuneration or consideration therefor,” the resolution states. “It could not be said that Purisima was under the pretense of being a PNP chief because he was ordered by his president and commander-in-chief to perform such supervision and monitoring.”

Purisima and Napeñas were charged with violating Section 3(a) of the anti-graft law which punishes “persuading, inducing or influencing another public officer to perform an act constituting a violation of rules and regulations.”

Meanwhile, the Sandiganbayan said the dismissal of the criminal complaints did not mean that the two accused had no liability over the Mamasapano clash and appropriate charges can still be filed against them.

“What the court merely ruled is the non-existence of probable cause against Napeñas in both charges and the insufficiency of the allegations in the information filed against Purisima,” the resolution reads.—AAC

Senate to probe PCGG for losing ill-gotten wealth case against Marcoses

Maris Federez   •   December 18, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — The Senate Committee on Justice will conduct an investigation on the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) on the measures it has taken to sequester the ill-gotten wealth of the Marcos family.

Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chairman Richard Gordon will particularly question the PCGG’s failure to win the case against the Marcoses.

“Kung meron talagang ganung kalaking halaga, papaano nakuha yung perang yan. Yan ang unang tatanungin ko. Papaanong nakalap yan at bakit hindi ninyo maimbestigahan ng maayos para just follow the paper trail,” Gordon said.

On Monday (Dec. 16), the Sandiganbayan junks the 200-Billion forfeiture case against the Marcos family.

This is the fourth time that the PCGG lost its case in the Sandiganbayan. — (with details from Nel Maribojoc) /mbmf

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