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Revilla’s ex-aide dies in Bilibid

Elizabeth Marcelo - The Philippine Star
Revillaâs ex-aide dies in Bilibid
Cambe
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — A former aide of Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr. died at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) on Thursday night while serving his sentence for plunder in connection with the pork barrel scam.

Richard Cambe “suffered a stroke and died at the Ospital ng Muntinlupa,” Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said, citing information from the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor).

In a separate message to reporters, BuCor spokesperson Gabriel Chaclag said Cambe died at past 6 p.m. and his family has been informed of his demise.

Chaclag added that initial investigation did not show any sign of foul play.

Cambe was transferred to the NBP from the Philippine National Police  Custodial Center at Camp Crame in December 2018 following his conviction by the Sandiganbayan in connection with the misuse of P517 million of Revilla’s Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel.

Revilla was acquitted while Cambe and businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged mastermind of the pork barrel scam, were sentenced to serve a minimum of 20 to 90 years.

Liability extinguished

In a text message to The STAR, Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang said the court’s First Division, which handled the case, has yet to receive a formal report from BuCor about Cambe’s demise as of yesterday afternoon.

Tang, however, said that while Cambe’s conviction would remain on the record of the Sandiganbayan, his liability is considered “totally extinguished” in accordance with the Revised Penal Code (RPC).

Tang cited Article 89 of the RPC, which states that “criminal liability is totally extinguished...as to the personal penalties and as to pecuniary penalties, when the death of the offender occurs before final judgment.”

Cambe’s appeal on his conviction remains pending at the Supreme Court (SC). Tang said the finality of judgment of his case has not yet been attained.

“However, the SC must be officially informed of his death, and established as a fact, before any action may be taken thereon. Normally, it is his counsel who should inform the court of his death, duly accompanied by a PSA-issued death certificate,” she added, referring to the Philippine Statistics Authority.

The Sandiganbayan’s First Division, in a decision promulgated on Dec. 7, 2018, also stated that “accused are held solidarily and jointly to return to the national treasury” the amount of P124.5 million in civil liability.

However, it remains unclear whether the order to return the P124.5 million in civil liability also covers Revilla or only those convicted in the case.

The Office of the Ombudsman, which filed the case in 2014, alleged that Revilla – through Cambe – received from Napoles a total of P224.5 million in kickbacks or commissions in exchange for the allocation of P517 million worth of his PDAF to Napoles’ bogus non-government organizations (NGOs).

In its decision, however, the First Division said that while the prosecution was able to establish that the transactions with the Napoles-linked NGOs were a “sham,” it was not proven that Revilla had knowledge or had given his authority to such transactions.

The court noted that whistle-blowers Benhur Luy, Marina Sula and Mary Arlene Baltazar, who were all former employees of Napoles, identified Cambe as the one with whom they transacted in connection with Revilla’s PDAF.

“Cambe’s participation was clear, but whether Cambe carried out the tasks Revilla chose not to do by himself or he did it for Revilla was not sufficiently established. It is also not clear that Cambe’s participation proceeded from Revilla’s order and authority,” the decision read.

Revilla offered prayers and expressed his condolences to the family of Cambe, who served as a staffmember of his father, the late senator Ramon Revilla Sr., for 10 years.

“I pray that we extend his family and loved ones their privacy for them to grieve. Rest in peace, Richard,” Revilla said. – Ghio Ong, Paolo Romero

RICHARD CAMBE

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