Bong Revilla acquitted of plunder
MANILA, Philippines — Former Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla has been acquitted by the Sandiganbayan from plunder cases in relation to the “Pork Barrel Scam.”
Meanwhile, Revilla’s two co-accused in the case, Janet Lim-Napoles and lawyer Richard Cambe were convicted of plunder, according to the decision by the Sandiganbayan Special First Division.
The anti-graft court said that the prosecution was not able to prove the guilt of Revilla, who was accused of allocating P224 million from his ‘pork barrel’, or the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to bogus non-government organizations owned by Napoles.
“For failure of the prosecution to establish beyond reasonable doubt that accused Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. received, directly or indirectly, the rebates, commission, and kickbacks from his PDAF, the Court cannot hold him liable for the crime of plunder. Accordingly he is acquitted,” the decision penned by Associate Justice Geraldine Econg said.
For Revilla, the favorable decision is the start of a bigger fight.
“Ngayon maitutuloy na natin ang laban, maraming salamat po mga kababayan ko sa inyong patuloy na suporta,” Revilla told reporters after the promulgation of his case.
Napoles and Cambe, who both attended the promulgation, will serve a sentence of up to 40 years imprisonment and are perpetually disqualified from holding public office. Cambe served as Revilla’s aide.
This is the first pork barrel scam case to be decided by the Sandiganbayan.
It has been four years since the Office of the Ombudsman filed the case against Revilla and co-accused former Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada.
Estrada and Enrile were also inside the Sandiganbayan premises to attend different hearings, although Estrada stayed inside the First Division courtroom until the decision on Revilla — whom he called a friend — was read.
“Ako, I’m very happy and elated sa outcome ng case ni Senator Bong Revilla. Siguro I cannot express the words na talagang masayang masaya kami at ang kanyang pamilya sa naging hatol sa kanya ng Sandiganbayan,” Estrada said.
After the hearing, Revilla posted bail for 16 other counts of graft, to seek provisional liberty. He will await the release order at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center in Camp Crame, where all three ex-senators were detained.
Of the three, only Revilla was left inside the detention facility, after Sandiganbayan allowed Enrile and Estrada to post bail. Enrile cited old age, while the anti-graft court said Estrada did not appear to be the main plunderer. /muf
Here is the full copy of the Sandiganbayan decision:
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