Court gives Bong Revilla 20 days to answer motion to return P124M
MANILA, Philippines — The Sandiganbayan First Division on Thursday granted the request of former Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla’s camp for 20 days to reply to a motion asking him to return P124.5 million in pork barrel funds.
The Office of the Ombudsman on Monday lodged a motion for execution of judgment saying that while Revilla was acquitted of plunder in cases related to the pork barrel scam, he should still return P124.5 million as part of his civil liability.
In the antigraft court’s order on Thursday, it gave the prosecution 10 days to comment once Revilla issues a reply to the Ombudsman’s motion.
Revilla was accused of pocketing public funds when he allocated part of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to bogus non-government organizations owned by scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles.
While the former senator was acquitted due to the failure of the prosecution to prove his direct involvement, his aide lawyer Richard Cambe and Napoles were convicted.
But after the decision was handed down, there was confusion about who should return the missing PDAF.
According to the decision penned by Associate Justice Geraldine Faith Econg, the “accused” are ordered to return the money.
“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 dispositive portion of the decision read.
However, it was not mentioned whether the phrase “accused are held solidarily” refers to all three accused or only to Cambe and Napoles.
Previously, Revilla’s lawyers claimed that he was no longer liable to shell out any money, as the decision cited Article 100 of the Revised Penal Code
Article 100 of the RPC says “every person criminally liable for a felony is also civilly liable.”
Because of this, Revilla’s counsel argued that they should not take part in returning the missing PDAF because he was not found criminally liable of plunder.
However, the country’s legal experts believe that Revilla has a responsibility to pay back damages because the PDAF was not his own money.
“If you bring home your officemate’s wallet, thinking in all good faith that it is yours, and your officemate later on charges you with theft, you will, in all probability be acquitted absent any proof that you intended to defraud your colleague,” San Beda University Graduate School of Law Dean Fr. Ranhilio Aquino said.
“But you will still be ordered to return the wallet and its contents for the simple reason that it is not yours,” he added.
Revilla is currently enjoying provisional liberty after his acquittal. He is looking to make a comeback to national politics after vying for a senatorial seat in the upcoming May 2019 midterm elections. /cbb