Pork barrel scam mastermind points to Revilla acquittal in her appeal
The mastermind of one of the country’s biggest cases of corruption and an accomplice sought to turn the spotlight on the acquittal of former Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. to reverse their conviction by the antigraft court Sandiganbayan.
Janet Lim-Napoles, convicted of masterminding the outright theft of public funds through Revilla’s pork barrel, and Richard Cambe, Revilla’s former chief of staff who was convicted of conniving with Napoles, beat the deadline for appeals on Friday.
But the Ombudsman allowed the deadline to lapse without appealing Revilla’s acquittal.
Napoles filed a motion for reconsideration at the Sandiganbayan while Cambe informed the court he was challenging the Dec. 7 verdict at the Supreme Court.
Napoles argued that Revilla’s acquittal meant there was “no main plunderer, hence, there is no plunder.”
The main plunderer requirement was imposed by the Supreme Court on prosecutors in its controversial July 2016 decision to acquit former President and now Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
The Sandiganbayan’s First Division had not received any appeal from prosecutors as of late afternoon on Friday on Revilla’s acquittal of charges that he pocketed up to P200 million in kickbacks from ghost projects given to Napoles’ bogus groups and financed by Revilla’s Priority Development Assistance Fund.
Lawyers of Napoles argued that their client could not have been the main plunderer because she was “not a public officer.”
They also claimed that Napoles shouldn’t have been charged with plunder because the amount she and Cambe were accused of stealing did not breach the P50 million threshold.
Majority justices who ruled to acquit Revilla said they found no proof that Revilla authorized Cambe to act on his behalf, which meant Cambe could have kept the kickbacks for himself.
Unlike Napoles, Cambe opted not to seek the Sandiganbayan’s reconsideration anymore.
He would instead challenge the verdict directly at the Supreme Court for “being contrary to law and the evidence on record,” according to his notice of appeal on Thursday.
Cambe had to lawyer for himself during the trial.
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