Former Sen. Ramon Bong Revilla all smiles as he leaves Sandiganbayan on the morning of Dec. 7, 2018.
The STAR/Michael Varcas
Ombudsman prosecutors urge court to order Revilla to pay in PDAF case
( - January 30, 2019 - 1:02pm

MANILA, Philippines — Prosecutors of the Office of the Ombudsman urged the Sandiganbayan to compel former Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. to pay for the civil liability on dismissed plunder case.

The STAR reported that the Ombudsman's Office of the Special Prosecutor filed a Motion for Execution of Judgment before the Sandiganbayan’s Special First Division to ask the anti-graft court to issue a Writ of Execution against Revilla.

The court, in a landmark ruling on December, acquitted Revilla in the multimillion-peso plunder case saying prosecutors failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the former lawmaker “received, directly or indirectly the rebates, commission and kickbacks from his [Priority Development Assistance Fund].”

Ombudsman prosecutors alleged that Revilla, through his aide Richard Cambe, received from businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles a total of P224.5 million in kickbacks in exchange for the allocation of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to bogus non-government organizations she controlled. 

The Sandiganbayan in 2015 ordered a freeze of P224 million in Revilla's assets.

The court convicted Cambe and Napoles and sentenced them to reclusion perpetua, or imprisonment of 40 years.

Revilla camp: No criminal liability, no civil liability

Part of the dispositive of the ruling read: “In view of the discussion above, pursuant to Article 100 of the Revised Penal Code, accused are held solidarily and jointly liable to return to the National Treasury the amount of P124.5 million.”

Revilla's camp earlier argued that they should not be ordered to pay since the former senator was acquitted from the case.

“He (Revilla) has no obligation under the (Sandiganbayan) judgment to return anything. How can he be held civilly liable if he was not found criminally liable? The finding of the court is he did not receive any of the alleged kickbacks or commissions,” lawyer Ramon Esguerra told The STAR.

Revilla civilly liable, Ombudsman prosecutors say

Ombudsman prosecutors argued before the court that Revilla’s acquittal “was based merely on reasonable doubt and not due to the absolute failure of the prosecution to prove his guilt.”

“This is why the judgment did not declare him to be without civil liability,” the motion further read.

Citing jurisprudence, state prosecutors stressed: “[A] person acquitted of a criminal charge, however, is not necessarily civilly free because the quantum of proof required in criminal prosecution (proof beyond reasonable doubt) is greater than the required for civil liability (mere preponderance of evidence.)”

“It is evidence which is more convincing to the court as worthy of belief than that which is offered in opposition thereto,” they added.

Article 100 of the Revised Penal Code discusses Civil Liability and provides: “Every person criminally liable for a felony is also civilly liable.”

READ: Dissenting justice: Bong Revilla not naive to allow aide to act alone

Evidence that is beyond reasonable doubt is required in criminal conviction. In civil cases, a “preponderance of the evidence” or that more convincing evidence is needed.

State prosecutors also said that Revilla’s liability stem from his failure to safeguard and account to the millions of public funds that was funnelled through the pork barrel scheme.

Revilla, after staying in detention for four years, walked free on the same day of the historic ruling

 He is gunning for another term at the Senate. — Kristine Joy Patag with reports from The STAR/Elizabeth Marcelo

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