Sandiganbayan orders suspension of Revilla, aide
MANILA, Philippines–The Sandiganbayan First Division has ordered the suspension for 90 days of accused plunderers Sen. Bong Revilla and his senior staff, Richard Cambe, in line with the ongoing hearings on the pork barrel scam allegedly perpetrated by Janet Lim-Napoles.
This means that all three senators in the pork plunder case—Revilla, Juan Ponce Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada—have been ordered temporarily stripped of their state functions nearly two months after the Ombudsman filed criminal charges against them in the antigraft court.
“As prayed for, accused Revilla and Cambe are hereby suspended from their respective positions as Senator and Director III of Senator Revilla’s office, and from any other public positions they may now or hereafter be holding, effective for 90 days from notice. The President of the Senate shall implement this order once he has been notified of the finality thereof,” according to the three-page document signed by First Division chair Efren N. de la Cruz and Associate Justices Rodolfo A. Ponferrada and Rafael R. Lagos.
“In view of the arraignment of the accused and that validity of the information in the instant case is no longer in question, and invoking the clear mandate of the law, suspension of both accused pending litigation is now mandatory,” the court said.
Revilla’s lawyer, Joel Bodegon, said his client would seek a motion for reconsideration during the allotted two-week period after which the court’s suspension order would be final.
Senate President Franklin Drilon has already declared he would abide by the court order, which he stressed was different from the Senate’s power to suspend any of its members for 60 days.
State prosecutors cited Section 5 of Republic Act No. 7080 in seeking the suspension of Revilla and Cambe: “To prevent the accused from committing further acts of malfeasance, tamper with documentary evidence and intimidate or influence witnesses in the case, it is necessary that the accused be suspended from office while the case is pending in court.”
Revilla had insisted that suspending him would not be necessary because he is in detention and is therefore not in a position to influence witnesses or tamper with evidence.
Revilla also said suspending him would deprive his voters of representation, especially since he got the most number of votes as senator in the country’s electoral history.
Revilla has been accused of plunder and 16 counts of graft after allegedly amassing P224.5 million in kickbacks from Napoles, the biggest among the three senators.
Estrada is alleged to have pocketed P183.79 million in kickbacks from his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF); Enrile, P172.8 million.
Both Revilla and Cambe are detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Quezon City, along with Estrada, while
Enrile has been allowed to stay at the PNP General Hospital because of the 90-year-old’s frail condition.
Cambe earlier asked the Supreme Court to stop his prosecution, claiming that Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales committed grave abuse of discretion in issuing its joint order on March 28, which found probable cause to indict him for plunder and graft.
Cambe, through his lawyer Remigio Ancheta III, said Morales totally ignored his counteraffidavits and evidence and even attributed to him statements and defenses he did not make in resolving the case against him.
Both Revilla and Cambe have claimed that their signatures on the documents used by the Ombudsman for their indictment were forged, noting that whistle-blower Benhur Luy himself admitted to counterfeiting documents and signatures to facilitate the transfer of PDAF to nongovernment organizations owned by Napoles.–With Marc Jayson Cayabyab, INQUIRER.net
Originally posted: 12:16 pm | Monday, August 4th, 2014
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