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Opinion

EDITORIAL - Not so guilty

The Philippine Star
EDITORIAL - Not so guilty

The prosecution failed to prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt. But the Sandiganbayan found sufficient basis to order former senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. to return, together with his co-defendants, P124.5 million in connection with the pork barrel scam.

The anti-graft court found accused scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles and Richard Cambe, a member of Revilla’s staff in his Senate office, guilty of plunder and sentenced them to life in prison. But the court ruled that the prosecution failed to prove that Revilla actually received over P224.5 million for endorsing funds from his pork barrel or Priority Development Assistance Fund to nine bogus non-government organizations set up by Napoles.

Also given weight by the court was the testimony of a handwriting analyst presented by the defense, who declared that Revilla’s signatures on the letters of funding endorsements were forged.

Set aside by the court were the documented money trail provided by the Anti-Money Laundering Council, the unwavering testimony of scam whistle-blower Benhur Luy, as well as the fact that the charged offense involved a conspiracy, in which there may be no direct line leading to the head of the office where the plunder of public funds was committed.

An acquittal can no longer be appealed, so Revilla is home free. His lawyer stressed that the burden of proof rests on the accuser. But he may appeal his conviction on the civil aspect all the way to the Supreme Court, so he may even be spared from returning the P124.5 million.

While Cambe must prepare to spend the rest of his life in prison, Revilla was released from detention yesterday, and can now freely move around in preparation for the official start of his bid to return to the Senate. The court of public opinion can deliver its own verdict on his case in May.

Related video:

JANET LIM NAPOLES

RAMON “BONG” REVILLA JR.

RICHARD CAMBE

SANDIGANBAYAN

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