Revilla allowed to secure TRO from SC vs plunder trial
The Sandiganbayan has given former Sen. Bong Revilla the chance to secure a temporary restraining order (TRO) from the Supreme Court to stop the trial of his P224.5-million plunder case—but only for three weeks.
The defense was supposed to begin presenting its evidence to counter the Ombudsman’s allegations on Thursday, but the court’s First Division deferred it to Feb. 15, “in the interest of justice.”
“Accused Revilla should present his evidence on Feb. 15, 2018, in the event that no (TRO) is issued by the Supreme Court,” read the order signed by Associate Justices Efren N. de la Cruz, Edgardo M. Caldona and Alex L. Quiroz.
Presentation of evidence
In case Revilla’s camp could not present its evidence, the court ordered his chief of staff, Richard Cambe, and alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles to be ready to present theirs.
Former Solicitor General Estelito Mendoza, Revilla’s lawyer, said he was “optimistic” that the high court would grant their plea for an injunction.
Revilla requested the postponement after they filed on Jan. 15 a petition asking the high court to reverse the Sandiganbayan’s Dec. 7 denial of his motion for leave to file a demurrer against the prosecution’s evidence.
Revilla’s petition included a plea for an injunction to indefinitely stop the Sandiganbayan proceedings and allow Revilla to post bail on the nonbailable case for humanitarian reasons.
The denial of the motion for leave meant Revilla risked waiving his right to present his evidence if he continued to challenge the sufficiency of the Ombudsman’s plunder evidence. Such a default could theoretically result in his conviction.
But Revilla’s lawyers insisted before the Supreme Court that the prosecution was unable to specify the “overt criminal acts” required by the plunder law and that his endorsement of dubious nongovernment organizations allegedly controlled by Napoles to implement his pork barrel projects was not a criminal act.