Court decides: Bong Revilla will be home for Christmas
Former Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla and his chief of staff Richard Cambe will be home for Christmas this year—even if only for 10 hours—after the Sandiganbayan granted them a furlough for the holidays.
It will be the first time in four years the two plunder defendants will be spending Christmas at home after the antigraft court’s First Division granted their plea in two separate resolutions.
Revilla and Cambe were allowed to leave their detention cells at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 24.
Revilla is expected to spend the time at his home in Bacoor City, Cavite, while Cambe will be at his brother’s house in Imus City, Cavite.
Cambe was also allowed to undergo a dental checkup while outside detention.
The court required the two plunder defendants to shoulder the PNP’s expenses for their personal escorts and security measures.
It also tasked the PNP security detail to supervise the use of any means of communication or electronic gadgets by the two and their companions. Media interviews were also prohibited.
The court did not give weight to the prosecution’s argument that a furlough would be a “special privilege that is not accorded to an ordinary prisoner and [would] unduly create an impression to the public that accused Revilla…is a favored detainee.”
The furlough, in fact, was much shorter than Revilla’s request of 33 hours from 11 a.m. on Dec. 24 to 8 p.m. on Christmas Day, Dec. 25.
Revilla also requested another 33-hour furlough from Dec. 31 to Jan. 1.
The two have been in detention since June 2014, when the plunder charges were filed against them.
Revilla was accused of receiving through Cambe P224.5 million in kickbacks in exchange for diverting his Priority Development Assistance Fund allocations to ghost projects of dubious foundations allegedly run by Janet Lim-Napoles.
Christmas furloughs are not uncommon in the Philippines.
Former President and incumbent Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was also allowed to go home for the holidays in 2014 and 2015 before the plunder cases against her were dismissed.
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