Bong Revilla’s trial starts Thursday
The trial of former Sen. Bong Revilla on plunder charges opens at the Sandiganbayan on Thursday, making him the first legislator to be tried over the P10-billion pork barrel scam.
The antigraft court’s Special First Division has directed the Philippine National Police Custodial Center to produce Revilla and aide Richard Cambe in court for the trial.
But the court has yet to release the pretrial order that will govern the trial proceedings, although two months have passed since the pretrial hearing was concluded on Oct. 27.
“We are still awaiting the issuance of the pretrial order from the court before we will proceed to trial,” state prosecutor Joefferson Toribio told reporters on Wednesday.
But the prosecution would not ask the court to defer the trial, he said.
“My understanding is that [today’s] hearing will push through, but maybe it will be devoted to examining the pretrial order because all parties will be given time to go through it because there might be corrections before signing it,” Toribio said.
The defense needs to examine the pretrial order, Reody Anthony Balisi, a lawyer for Revilla, said.
“Both parties have to sign it,” Balisi said. “But we are prepared anytime, if ever they [the prosecution] push through with the presentation of the witnesses [today].”
The Supreme Court’s Dec. 6 decision affirming the Ombudsman’s finding of probable cause to charge Revilla and all of his coaccused for plunder also helped clear the way for the trial to push through.