Ombudsman won’t appeal Revilla’s acquittal in ‘pork’ raps

Edu Punay, Elizabeth Marcelo - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The Office of the Ombudsman will no longer appeal the Sandiganbayan’s dismissal of all graft cases filed against Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. in connection with the pork barrel scam, saying that doing so would violate his constitutional right against double jeopardy.

“The anti-graft court voted 3-2 to grant Senator Revilla’s petition for demurrer to evidence, and we respect its decision,” the ombudsman said in a statement yesterday.

In a resolution promulgated on July 1, the Sandiganbayan Special First Division cited insufficiency of evidence as ground for dismissing the remaining 16 graft cases against Revilla.

The court, however, denied the petition of detained businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged brains of the pork barrel scam.

The ombudsman pointed out that the grant of Revilla’s appeal “is tantamount to an acquittal because the defendant is cleared of the criminal case and is no longer required to present evidence.”

In September 2018, Ombudsman Samuel Martires issued Office Circular No. 18 directing government lawyers to no longer file an appeal on criminal and administrative cases dismissed by the Sandiganbayan, Court of Appeals and regional trial courts.

The ombudsman did not challenge the dismissal of Revilla’s plunder case by the Sandiganbayan First Division in December 2018.

Napoles and Revilla’s former aide, Richard Cambe, were convicted of plunder and sentenced to life in prison.

Napoles is being held at the Correctional Institution for Women in Mandaluyong. Cambe was serving his sentence at the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa when he died of a stroke last April 8.

Meanwhile, the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD) yesterday welcomed the dismissal of the graft cases against Revilla, who is the party’s chairman.

Lakas-CMD spokesman and Pangasinan Rep. Christopher de Venecia said the decision of the Sandiganbayan vindicated their position that Revilla was innocent of the charges.

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