Sandiganbayan clears Revilla in pork barrel scam
Kristine Joy Patag (philstar.com) - December 7, 2018 - 10:51am

MANILA, Philippines (Update 2, 10:42 a.m.) — The Sandiganbayan acquitted on Friday former Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. from plunder charges for the misuse of over P224.5 million worth of public funds.

In a vote of 3-2, the Sandiganbayan’s Special Division ruled that Revilla “cannot be held liable” for the charge as the prosecution failed to prove his guilt “beyond reasonable doubt.”

This is the first trial over the multi-billion Priority Development Assessment Fund or pork barrel scam to finish.

Associate Justice Geraldine Faith Econg, Edgardo Caldona and Georgina Dumpit-Hidalgo voted for the acquittal of Revilla.

Associate Justices Efren de la Cruz and Ma. Theresa Gomez Estoesta meanwhile voted to convict him of plunder.

The Sandiganbayan First Division meanwhile convicted Richard Cambe, Revilla’s aide, and businesswoman Janet-Lim Napoles.

Napoles and Cambe are sentenced to reclusion perpetua or imprisonment of up to 40 years.

The Office of the Ombudsman filed plunder against Revilla in June 2014.

Ombudsman prosecutors accused Revilla of pocketing P224.5 million in kickbacks for funneling the PDAF allocated to him to fictitious livelihood projects of Napoles, dubbed as the pork barrel scam mastermind.

Revilla may walk free this afternoon

Revilla’s counsel, Ramon Esguerra, told reporters that the former senator’s legal team is assisting in the bail payment.

“Hopefully after posting the bail, the court will order his release from detention. Hopefully from this afternoon he will be out of detention from the custodial center in Camp Crame,” the lawyer.

Esguerra said he is unsure how much the bail set by the court was, but added that they would follow what was ordered.

Once the bail is posted, “the court will issue the appropriate order,” the lawyer added.

Revilla is gunning for a seat in the Senate in the 2019 midterm elections.

Witness backtracks

In a trial hearing in June, Marina Sula, one of the state witnesses, cleared Revilla of involvement in the pork barrel scam.

Sula told the justices that Benhur Luy—whistleblower in the PDAF scam—forged the signatures of Revilla in various endorsement letters.

READ: Witness clears Bong Revilla in ‘pork barrel’ scam

“Si Benhur, siya yung mahusay pumirma ng lawmakers at siya yung nakikita kong pumipirma para sa lawmakers (It was Benhur who used to forge the signatures of lawmakers. He was good at that. I used to see him signing letters on behalf of lawmakers),” Sula said during examination by Revilla’s lawyer Reody Anthony Balisi.

Luy, the case’s whistleblower, served as one of Napoles’ aides.

He filed a case of illegal detention against Napoles, but the Court of Appeals reversed Napoles’ conviction.

The CA said that Luy’s testimony that he was held against his will was “quite baffling.”

“It is quite baffling how someone who was illegally detained would not mention such fact to several priests he sees on a daily basis,” the CA said.

He also updated his family from time to time but never mentioned his forced detention, the court said. — with a report from Elizabeth Marcelo

BONG REVILLA JR. PORK BARREL SCAM
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: December 10, 2018 - 9:08am

Former Sen. Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr. arrives at the Sandiganbayan for the promulgation of the decision on his plunder case in connection with the pork barrel fund scam.

Revilla is accused of receiving P224.5 million in kickbacks for allocating his Priority Development Assistance Fund or pork barrel to fake foundations owned by alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles.

 

December 10, 2018 - 9:08am

Former Supreme Court spokesperson Theodore Te raises a question on former Sen. Bong Revilla's acquittal despite the Anti-Money Laundering Council report proving that tens of millions went to his account.

Te says this in an interview over ANC.

 

 

Sandiganbayan Associate Justice Ma. Theresa Dolores Gomez-Estoesta who filed a dissenting opinion noted that Revilla's bank accounts accumulated P170,981,280.46 by 2010. Revilla declared only P81,164,851.55 in cash and investments in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth that year. The disparity is close to P90 million.

Te also questions how Revilla's co-accused alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles and his aide Richard Cambe was found to be involved in the conspiracy while Revilla was not.

Lawyer Ramon Esguerra, legal counsel of Revilla, however, says the AMLC report on Revilla's case was considered but not given credence as the majority found it has no probative value.

 

December 7, 2018 - 6:28pm

And he walks free. Bong Revilla, former senator, leaves the PNP Custodial Center where he was detained for four years.

He posted more than P400,000 in bail earlier today for the remaining counts of graft in connection to the pork barrel scam.

December 7, 2018 - 5:45pm

A sheriff from Sandiganbayan is already at the PNP Custodial Center to serve the release order for former senator Bong Revilla following his acquittal of plunder charges earlier today, the STAR's Romina Cabrera reports.

December 7, 2018 - 10:17am

Bong Revilla, a former senator, is being escorted out of the court room after his acquittal in the plunder case.

While criminally cleared, he is deemed civilly liable.

December 7, 2018 - 9:55am

Napoles and Cambe sentenced to reclusion perpetua or maximum of 40 years of imprisonment.

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