The misjudgment of the Sandiganbayan
SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit Avila (The Freeman) - December 10, 2018 - 12:00am

Our special guest today was my guest earlier this year when the Tax Reform, Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law wasn’t even implemented yet. He is no other than Mr. Raymond “Mon” Abrea who is now more known as “The Tax Whiz”. While he may be known as being one of the Ten Outstanding Young Men of the Philippines, he has also become an alumnus of the 2015 Fall Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative and has been seen hogging the television screens of Metro Manila explaining the TRAIN law.

He is back on our show tonight to explain the need to finish the second part of the TRAIN law because it brings out an amnesty for those who failed to pay their taxes on time. So once more we talk about the great effects of the TRAIN law and the reason why President Duterte was amenable to suspend the up-and-coming excise tax on fuel due to high world prices of crude. With the new world crude prices, we are reaching record heights in our fuel pump prices and apparently the issue of the restoration of the excise tax on fuel is back on issue.

So once again we bring you Mon Abrea to talk about TRAIN and why TRAIN 2 should be approved as soon as possible in our talkshow tonight on SkyCable’s channel 53 at 8 p.m. with replays on Wednesday and Saturday same time and channel. We also have replays on MyTV’s channel 30 at 9 p.m. Monday and at 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. on Wednesday and Friday.

***

The biggest news to happen in this country is that the Sandiganbayan acquitted former senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. of plunder over his involvement in the multi-billion pork barrel scam, but it ordered P124.5 million returned to the national treasury. Hmmm…did the Sandiganbayan just do an OJ Simpson decision? In California in 1995, Simpson, a famous football player was tried for allegedly murdering his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman. At the end of that trial, Simpson was acquitted of the murders, but there was a question on his guilt and in the end, he was made responsible for both deaths.

In the case of Revilla, he was acquitted of plunder, but the court ordered him to pay P124.5 million. So is the Sandiganbayan telling us that in acquitting Revilla, he only “borrowed” the P124.5 million and didn’t steal it from the national treasury? Just when we thought that finally justice in the Philippines has at long last emerged, we suddenly get this kind of fake justice!

What is the Sandiganbayan telling us with its decision? Already people are talking about the millions of pesos that could have been released to the three Sandiganbayan justices, although I submit that this story is without any evidence…but what else could there be? Mind you, our justices should be very circumspect when it comes to making these kinds of decisions. Already too much government funds have disappeared because of corruption and it is high time that we get serious in stopping corruption.

Accordingly, the Ombudsman prosecutors said that Revilla, through Cambe, allegedly 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 to her bogus non-government organizations. Of that money, P124.5 million was ordered returned by the Sandiganbayan. Now what if Revilla refuses to return this money, will he get a conviction instead?

In a vote of 3-2, the anti-graft court said that Revilla cannot be held liable for plunder as the prosecution failed to establish “beyond reasonable doubt” that the former senator “received, directly or indirectly the rebates, commission and kickbacks from his PDAF.” Yet the Sandiganbayan demanded the return of the P124.5 million to the national treasury!

At this point, I don’t know what we should do next but we must chastise the Sandiganbayan for making this stupid decision. If we are losing our fight against corruption, it is also because the judiciary is making a foolery out of their decision making, which in my book fails to convince our future Law students on how to make a just decision. We must do something about this before the whole world makes fun out of our justice system!

vsbobita@mozcom.com

TRAIN
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