(CORRECTION) Bong Revilla bail plea for plunder denied with finality
(This update corrects that Richard Cambe is detained at the PNP Custodial Center and not at large. Our apologies.)
THE Sandiganbayan First Division has denied with finality the bail petition of Senator Ramon Revilla Jr. for his plunder case over the pork barrel scam.
In a resolution, the antigraft court found no merit in Revilla’s motion for reconsideration that claimed the court erred in finding strong evidence of guilt against him for allegedly funneling his Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) to ghost projects for kickbacks under the scheme of Janet Lim-Napoles.
The court said there is proof that Revilla got kickbacks from his PDAF through the Napoles NGOs he himself endorsed to implement his pork projects.
It noted, however, that its finding was based on the presumption of guilt based on evidence and not guilt beyond reasonable doubt, which will be determined in a full-blown trial.
“There is evident proof that Revilla siphoned the PDAF to himself. It was discussed that accused Revilla endorsed accused Napoles NGOs and got 50 percent of the project cost financed out of his PDAF allocation,” the resolution said.
“Even though there is a reasonable doubt as to the guilt of the accused, if on an examination of the entire record, there is a presumption that the accused is guilty of a capital offense, bail should be refused,” it added.
The court also junked the motions for reconsideration filed by Revilla’s co-accused, his chief of staff Richard Cambe and Napoles.
In the latest resolution, the court dismissed the claims of the accused that the resolution was based on mere speculations, saying the evidence point to a strong probability that plunder was committed.
“The conclusions were reached by piecing together other factors extant in the records, and from these factors, the Court inferred – not speculate – that the statements of the witnesses against the accused-movants linking them to the scam have a strong probability to be true,” the court said.
The court also said it is not a coincidence that Revilla endorsed and even ordered the release of his pork funds to Napoles-linked NGOs, bolstering allegations that Revilla’s endorsement compelled the implementing agencies (IA) to course the funds to the fake foundations contrary to law.
The special audit report, which bared anomalous PDAF transactions, noted that the pork projects were implemented by bogus foundations with fake office addresses instead of the IAs as mandated by the General Appropriations Act.
“In fact, Revilla did not only endorse these but even asked for the release of his PDAF to his identified NGOs. From these instances, it is more reasonable to infer that the NGOs were picked by the IAs because of accused Revilla’s endorsement than to say it was pure coincidence,” the court said.
The court also denied the allegations of Revilla’s aide Cambe that there is no evidence that he was Revilla’s authorized representative in dealing with the Napoles NGOs.
The court added that Revilla’s claims that his signatures on the PDAF documents were forged run counter to the senator’s letter to the Commission on Audit confirming that the suspicious PDAF documents were signed by him.
Pieces of evidence of the prosecution – such as the financial ledger, summary of rebates, and hard drive of principal whistleblower Benhur Luy – were found to be evident proof based on testimonial evidence, contrary to the accused’s claims that these were tampered with, the court also said.
The court effectively upheld its Dec. 2, 2014 resolution denying Revilla’s bail.
“In fine, the prosecution has duly established that there exists strong evidence that accused Revilla, Cambe and Napoles, in conspiracy with one another, committed the capital offense of plunder… and are thus not entitled to the constitutional right to bail,” according to the 71-page resolution last year.
Revilla, his co-accused Cambe (who is detained at the PNP Custodial Center), and Napoles were accused of plundering P224 million in kickbacks from the senator’s PDAF from 2006 to 2009 through ghost projects implemented by bogus foundations that are linked to accused mastermind Napoles.
Revilla is detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center with fellow accused plunderer Senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada. Meanwhile, another co-accused Senator Juan Ponce Enrile is under hospital detention in Camp Crame.
Two other former lawmakers, former Masbate Representative Rizalina Seachon Lanete and former Association of Philippine Electric Cooperatives (APEC) Edgar Valdez, are also detained for plunder at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig with Napoles.
In an explosive bank inquiry report by the Anti-Money Laundering Council, Revilla is accused of stashing away in different bank accounts at least P87.6 million in purported undeclared (in his statement of assets and liabilities networth) and unexplained (meaning no legitimate source) wealth from 2006 to 2010, or around the time of his alleged involvement in the pork barrel scam. AC
(Originally posted 3:33 PM, Thursday, April 9th, 2015)
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