Economist laments Revilla acquittal: ‘I cried for you, Philippines’
MANILA, Philippines — “I cried for you, Philippines.”
This was how National Scientist and University of the Philippines School of Economics Professor Emeritus Raul Fabella decried the acquittal of former Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. from plunder on Friday.
Fabella even warned: “(W)here plunder is a virtue, the market has no chance to deliver development.”
“Nobody’s going to jail in the Napoles scam but the witnesses. So the guys who came out and told the world of this, they will be the ones who will be penalized,” he said at the “Pilipinas Conference 2018” organized by the Stratbase Albert del Rosario (ADR) Institute in Makati City.
The professor also cited the Ampatuan massacre case where conviction remains elusive .
Fabella further stressed that a nation that “fail(s) to protect property rights” like the basic right to justice are bound to fail.
“I think the most important of all properties is the right to be respected and the right to justice; that is the most important of our rights. Our basic rights are the most important property,” he said. “And when our institutions cannot protect those basic rights, the lesson of history is that the country will fail.”
“Today is a bad day for the Philippines and for institutions… I hope that in future, the delivery of justice improves in this country,” Fabella added.
The Sandiganbayan Special First Division exonerated Revilla, who was accused of allocating P224.5 million from his “pork barrel” or Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to bogus non-government organizations owned by Janet Lim-Napoles, the so0-called prod barrel queen.
Meanwhile, mastermind Napoles and lawyer Richard Cambe, a former chief of staff of Revilla, were found guilty of plunder.
The decision penned by Associate Justice Geraldine Econg said the prosecution failed “to establish beyond reasonable doubt” that Revilla “received, directly or indirectly, the rebates, commission, and kickbacks from his PDAF.”
This is the first verdict on the P10-billion pork barrel scandal.
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