Bong Revilla opposes move to seize his cash, properties tagged as ‘pork’ kickbacks
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. opposed the prosecution’s move for the court to secure some of his cash and properties that were tagged as kickbacks from the pork barrel scam.
In an opposition filed before the Sandiganbayan first division, Revilla’s counsel said the court should junk the prosecution’s motion for garnishment of Revilla’s alleged kickbacks for lack of merit.
This is because the motion is premature, especially as the evidence cited are also used for the court’s hearing on the senator’s motion for bail, the opposition said.
“To grant the application for writ of garnishment based on the dearth of evidence presented during the bail hearings would be doubly unfair and unjust,” it read.
“An issuance of a writ of attachment (or garnishment) … would constitute undue pre-judgment to the bail application, particularly that the accused has yet to present evidence to magnify or emphasize the strong evidence of doubt in this case,” the opposition added.
The defense said the pieces of evidence the prosecution used against Revilla – the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) report, for one, which claimed that Revilla stowed and withdrew millions of unexplained wealth, as well as whistleblowers’ testimonies – failed to prove that Revilla had a direct hand in the scam.
“The very language of the AMLC Report denotes inconclusiveness, not to mention uncertainty. These inconclusive allegations cannot be used by prosecution as basis for its prayer in its motion,” the opposition said.
Principal whistleblower Benhur Luy also did not testify that he had direct transactions with Revilla, the opposition said.
According to the motion for garnishment, the prosecutors said there is a need to preserve the alleged kickbacks in the course of the court hearings.
The garnished properties could be in the form of cash, real properties, shares of stocks, and other financial instruments, the motion said.
“There is prima facie evidence showing that much of accused’s wealth is ill-gotten, the same having been sourced from public money amassed, accumulated or acquired from bribes, commissions and kickbacks amounting to P224 million from his P515 million PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Funds). Such P224 million wealth, which appears to be prima facie ill-gotten, has to be preserved pending final determination of the legality, thereof, including any purchased property sourced from such money,” the motion read.
The prosecution said it wants to secure Revilla’s alleged commissions with the help of the Sandiganbayan Sheriff and Security Services, the sheriffs of Metro Manila and the Philippine National Police (PNP).
A notice of garnishment is a legal notification served on a third party to hold, subject to a court’s direction, money or property belonging to a person or persons that are subject to litigation. This means that if the court issues the notice, it deems that Revilla may owe the garnished assets to the government, which maintains that these assets were unlawfully acquired and therefore belong to the public coffers.
The prosecution said Revilla “had the means and capacity to conceal, remove or dispose of the monies and properties he unlawfully acquired.”
“The accused has abused the ordinary PDAF processes to cloak with a mystique of legality their nefarious scheme of siphoning public monies for their own. It is thus quite logical to believe that he will likewise abuse judicial and legal processes to conceal or dispose any part of his unlawfully acquired wealth,” the motion read.
Senators Revilla, Jinggoy Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile as well as their aides and alleged mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles are detained to stand trial on plunder charges arising from the pork barrel scam.
Revilla and Estrada are locked up at the PNP Custodial Center while Enrile is under hospital detention. Napoles, meanwhile, is detained at the Camp Bagong Diwa female ward.
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