Court denies with finality Revilla bid to stop trial
The Sandiganbayan has denied with finality the appeal of former Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. to be allowed to challenge the sufficiency of the prosecution’s evidence and thereby cut short his trial for plunder.
In a three-page resolution on Thursday, the antigraft court’s First Division affirmed the Dec. 7 denial of motions by Revilla and his coaccused for leave to file a demurrer.
The court reiterated that the Ombudsman’s evidence was strong enough and the defense would have to rebut it by presenting its own evidence.
A demurrer is a motion filed by the accused challenging the sufficiency of the prosecution’s evidence to lead to a conviction even without rebuttal. If the evidence is not solid enough, the trial is cut short and the accused is acquitted.
“The totality of these documents [presented by the Ombudsman] appear to be sufficient for purposes of denying the accused’s motions for leave of court to file demurrer to evidence,” read the resolution.
Without the court leave, Revilla and his chief of staff Richard Cambe, as well as alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles, could still file demurrers but at the risk of losing their chance to present evidence in their defense during trial.
“The Court reiterates if the accused so choose, they may file a demurrer to evidence without leave of court, subject to the limitation and consequence provided in Section 23, Rule 119 of the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure,” read the resolution.
The resolution was signed by Associate Justices Efren N. de la Cruz, Geraldine Faith A. Econg and Reynaldo P. Cruz.
Revilla stands accused of receiving P224.5 million in kickbacks from Napoles, through Cambe, in exchange for diverting his Priority Development Assistance Fund allocations to ghost projects under dubious foundations allegedly controlled by the businesswoman.
The Ombudsman’s evidence include the testimonies of whistleblowers, including Napoles’ financial officer Benhur Luy, the Anti-Money Laundering Council’s report on Revilla’s bank transactions, and the testimonies of local government officials who attested that Revilla’s pork barrel-funded projects were never implemented.
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