Sandigan orders ‘accused’ to return P124-M to nat’l treasury
MANILA, Philippines — So, who owes the government P124.5 million — former Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., Janet Lim-Napoles, or Richard Cambe?
This question emerged as it remains unclear who among the three should return the amount to the National Treasury as the Sandiganbayan acquitted Revilla while it convicted Napoles and Cambe, a former staff Revilla.
Revilla, Napoles, and Cambe were all named accused in the P10-billion pork barrel scam.
In the dispositive portion of the decision penned by Associate Justice Geraldine Faith Econg, the Sandiganbayan Special First Division ordered:
“Moreover, in view of the discussion above, and pursuant to Article 100 of the Revised Penal Code, accused are held solidarily and jointly liable to return to the National Treasury the amount of PhP 124,500,000.00.”
The ruling noticeably did not categorically state who among the three accused should return the P124.5 million to the National Treasury or if the three should split the bill.
The Special Division voted 3 to 2, acquitting Revilla on grounds that the prosecution failed to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt. Cambe and Napoles were unanimously convicted.
According to Revilla’s lawyers, he is not required to return a part of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), as the decision cited Article 100 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC).
Article 100 of the RPC says “every person criminally liable for a felony is also civilly liable”. In retrospect, Revilla’s counsel argued that since their client was not found criminally liable of plunder, he is also not civilly liable and is therefore spared from paying.
Revilla was accused of misusing his PDAF when he allocated around P224 million to bogus non-government organizations owned by Napoles.
This case was the first to be resolved out of the several other pork barrel scam-related cases, including those involving co-accused and fellow former Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada. /kga
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