Revilla’s acquittal: How it went by
MANILA, Philippines — Former Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. was acquitted of plunder charges on Friday with a less of fanfare. Here is how it unfolded.
Before the court proceeding even started, around 150 supporters of Revilla — majority of whom hail from Cavite — gathered outside the Sandiganbayan building to support their provincial hero.
By 8:00 a.m., Revilla was already inside the Sandiganbayan premises, escorted by police officers from the Philippine National Police (PNP) Headquarters Support Service assigned at Camp Crame where he was detained.
Relatives including wife and Bacoor Mayor Lani Mercado-Revilla, their children Cavite Vice Governor Jolo Revilla, actor Bryan Revilla, and former actress Inah Revilla were also present during the hearing.
A few moments after the actor-turned-politician entered the Sandiganbayan First Division courtroom, co-accused lawyer Richard Cambe who was Revilla’s aide, and pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles took their seats at the front row. Revilla was seated at the far corner of the room.
Revilla’s friend, fellow former Senator Jinggoy Estrada who was also charged with plunder, arrived at the court room to signify support and solidarity. Estrada was set to attend a separate hearing, also related with to the pork barrel scam.
At around 9:35 a.m., the hearing started. Revilla, Napoles, and Cambe were called forward as the dispositive portion, which contained the whole verdict, was read.
Revilla was acquitted for failure of the prosecution to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt, while Napoles and Cambe were convicted and will serve a sentence of reclusion perpetua, aside from being banned from holding public office.
Immediately after the hearing ended, Revilla posted bail for 16 other graft cases, to seek temporary liberty. Napoles was brought back to the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology facility, while Revilla was transported to Camp Crame.
After lunch, Econg — the “ponente” or the judge who wrote the decision — explained to reporters that Revilla was not actually found “not guilty,” but was merely acquitted because of lack of solid evidence. She also admitted that she initially wanted to convict him, but the facts hindered her from doing so.
Before 4:00 p.m., Sandiganbayan ordered the release of Revilla from detention, after it approved the bail he posted. He was released from the PNP’s custody after 6:00 p.m. /jpv
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.