Revilla wants ghost projects excluded from plunder case
Detained former Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. urged the Sandiganbayan to exclude dubious foundations and ghost projects from his pending plunder case because they are not alleged in the original complaint.
Revilla, through his lawyer Estelito Mendoza, asked the court’s First Division to reverse its April 21 resolution including evidence on the “fictitious nature” of ghost projects linked to suspected pork scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles.
Revilla argued that the issue would only stray from the gist of the P224.5-million plunder charge filed against him in June 2014.
“The said resolution must be reconsidered because the accused [Revilla] cannot be placed on trial based on matters that are not found in the Information,” the motion read.
He argued an information does not only mark the start of criminal prosecution but also extends to the preparation of evidence to be presented during trial.
He maintained that prosecutors should stick to the allegation that he received kickbacks for allocating his Priority Development Assistance Fund to Napoles’s nongovernment organizations.
For the senator, the Napoles-linked NGO projects is not relevant to the allegation that he received kickbacks and should be excluded from the trial.
Revilla argued the April 21 resolution effectively amended the allegations against him when the court ruled in favor of presenting evidence not included in the original information.
His camp argued that the non-implementation of the projects showed only the alleged misuse of funds for Napoles’s personal gain but not the senator’s.
“Any connection that needs to be established between Revilla and Napoles must be found on the face and on the wordings of the Information alone,” Revilla concluded.
But the Ombudsman’s Office of the Special Prosecutor argued the fictitious nature of the projects is vital in establishing Revilla’s alleged receipt of commissions.
It added that Revilla was charged in conspiracy with Napoles and “their respective culpabilities are to be treated collectively and not individually.”
Revilla’s plunder trial is currently scheduled to start on June 1 but it has constantly been delayed since January over various issues regarding the presentation of evidence.
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