Prosecutors appeal exclusion of SARO in plunder case vs Revilla
The Office of the Ombudsman has appealed the Sandiganbayan’s exclusion of a 2010 special allotment release order (SARO), which prosecutors deem as vital evidence in the P224.5-million plunder case against former Senator Bong Revilla Jr.
In a 15-page motion dated September 27, the prosecutors asked the court’s First Division to reconsider its ruling that the audit findings on a February 12, 2010 Saro for the amount of P190 million was “irrelevant” to the plunder case.
“The said Saro from 2010 is where the kickbacks to Revilla (were) based,” Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) Director Joefferson Toribio explained during Thursday’s hearing.
Revilla’s defense team, led by former Solicitor General Estelito Mendoza, successfully blocked the testimony of state auditor Magno Oasan during the hearing last September 14.
Oasan was supposed to testify on his findings of irregularity in the National Livelihood Development Corp.’s disbursement of Revilla’s Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) proceeds to four dubious foundations linked to businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles.
Procurement regulations were allegedly violated in the release of funds to Agri-Economic Program for Farmers Foundation Inc. (AEPFFI), Agricultura Para sa Magbubukid Foundation (APMFI), Masaganang Ani Para sa Magsasaka Foundation (MAMFI), and Social Development Program for Farmers Foundation, Inc. (SDPFFI).
The OSP denied that the Saro did not form part of the evidence considered during the Ombudsman’s preliminary investigation.
It said prosecutors came up with the P224.5-million amount for Revilla’s alleged commissions in exchange for endorsing Napoles’s foundations by considering his PDAF allocations for the years 2006 to 2010.
From March to April 2010, Revilla allegedly received P33,512,500, as recorded by whistleblower Benhur Luy.
The prosecutors also said the Saro need not be included in the allegations of the charge sheet itself. They argued the court also already affirmed the sufficiency of the charges when it denied Revilla’s motion for judicial determination of probable cause and motion to quash in June 2014.
“To require that the SAROs covering the releases of accused Revilla’s Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) for the years 2006 to 2010 must be alleged in the Information would be stretching the law too far,” the appeal read. /kga
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