By: Elena Grace Flores
Former Senator Bong Revilla, who seeks to run for Senator during the election 2019 evades plunder charges when the Sandiganbayan acquits him. This is due to the prosecution’s “failure” to prove that he received millions in kickbacks from alleged ghost projects. Those were funds allegedly from his Priority Development Assistance Fund. This means that he is not liable to return the P124.5 million funds taken by the guilty ones contrary to some media reports. Revilla addresses them in a video announcement.
Youtube Video by GMA News
[VIDEO]: Saksi: Bong Revilla, umapela sa mga nanira umano sa kanya na sa Diyos humingi ng tawad
Only the Guilty Ones are Liable
Only businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles and Revilla’s former chief-of-staff Richard Cambe are told to return the said amount to the National Treasury. This is according to Ramon Esguerra, the former lawmaker’s counsel. The last paragraph of the dispositive portion of the Sandiganbayan’s decision shows that after Revilla’s acquittal. Since Napoles and Cambe are guilty of plunder, “pursuant to Article 100 of the Revised Penal Code, they are held solidarily and jointly liable to return to the National Treasury the amount of One Hundred Twenty-Four Million, Five Hundred Thousand Pesos.”
Not Guilty Beyond Reasonable Doubt
The Sandiganbayan promulgates its decision about 4 years since the ex-lawmaker was held in prison. The prosecution fails to show that he is guilty beyond reasonable doubt. Thus, the reason for his acquittal. He still has 16 graft cases pending in connection with the same alleged pork barrel scam.
Wrong Interpretation of the Court Order
Some experts say that the prosecution fails to prove Revilla’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt. But the court seems to find that there are a lot of evidence against Revilla. That he “must be held as equally accountable to the People of the Philippines. This is with respect to the return of the money lost by virtue of the PDAF scam allegedly.” The Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) known as pork barrel or funds set aside for lawmakers’ projects is now unconstitutional as per the High Court ruling in 2013. This happens during its exposé on its misuse during the Aquino administration.
Running for the Senate During the Election 2019
Revilla’s case is the first to have a favorable ruling among dozens of cases involving lawmakers’ PDAF. Former Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile are also facing plunder and graft charges. This is in relation to the scam wherein Napoles allegedly got ₱10 billion of lawmakers’ funds into bogus non-government organizations. Revilla, Estrada, and Enrile are all out on bail and are to seek a Senate comeback this coming election 2019.
Challenge for Forgiveness
Revilla challenges his critics if they can ask for forgiveness from the highest being for what they have done unto him. He said that he is just thankful to have survived his nightmare through the help of his family and supporters. It makes sense that his acquittal from the criminal case also sets him aside from the civil case.
By: Elena Grace Flores
Former Senator Bongbong Marcos always describe the charges against another ex-Senator Bong Revilla as “a little too vague”. Revilla, is now acquitted on the plunder case. He was also allowed to post bail on the graft charges at the Sandiganbayan over the “pork barrel” scam. A Revilla and Marcos tandem was floated in 2016. Marcos also defended Revilla and co-accused, ex-Senator Jinggoy Estrada, over criticisms of their alleged special treatment at their detention in Camp Crame.
Youtube Video by GMA News
[VIDEO]: Bong Revilla, acquitted sa mga kaso kaugnay ng prk barrel scam; Cambe at Napoles, hinatulang guilty
Malacañang Bows Down
Malacañang said that it respects the decision of the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan to acquit former senator Revilla of plunder. “Regardless of the sentiments to the contrary, we have to bow down to the judgement of the Sandiganbayan,” Presidential Spokesman and Chief Presidential Counsel Salvador Panelo said in a statement recently.
Slow but Rightful Ruling
Panelo, who is once Revilla’s lawyer, describes justice in the Philippines as “slow.” But the court’s verdicts are “exacting and immutable,” he added. Earlier, the Sandiganbayan’s special first division rules find Revilla not guilty of plunder. He was accused of earning P224.5 million worth of kickbacks through the pork barrel scam. However, experts believe that they were politically motivated. This was during former President BS Aquino’s time as he intends to run for President
Revilla is among 3 former senators accused of funnelling his Priority Development Assistance Fund. This was allegedly through the use of fake non-governmental organizations owned by Napoles. The others are Juan Ponce Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada. Both are out on bail.
The President’s Promise on his Freedom
When he was still a presidential candidate in January 2016, President Rodrigo Du30 had said that he would “see to it” that Revilla would be granted bail. This is if the evidence was “weak.” Everything goes according to his word. Since he follows the rule of law, the proceedings took a long time. But it’s definitely worth it for the Revilla’s and their supporters.
The Era of the Anti-Aquino and Pro Marcos
The current developments from the appointment of the New Supreme Court Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin to Revilla’s freedom are manifestations of the President and his allies’ goal to return Marcos’ idealism. Many believe that this is for the good of the country. Can the VP proclaimation of Bongbong Marcos be next?
On almost the same period as Jinggoy Estrada’s release from prison after posting bail, the Ombudsman junked former President Benigno Aquino III’s appeal. This is to dismiss criminal charges against him for his role in the deadly Mamasapano encounter in January 2015. However, the Ombudsman dismissed homicide charges against the former President because of lack of probable cause. So, his fate is not yet clear.
Youtube video by; GMA News
[VIDEO]: Ex-Sen. Jinggoy Estrada’s release from detention after paying P1.3-M bail.
Justification of the Ombudsman
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales explains that what Aquino did wrong was to allow then-Philippine National Police Chief Alan Purisima to play a major role in the Mamasapano operation. This is despite the official being under preventive suspension.
Free after 3 Years
Meanwhile, after three years of detention, former Senator Jinggoy Estrada walks out of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center in Camp Crame. Estrada was accused of plunder and anti-graft and corruption charges. He was released last Sept. 16 around 12:30 p.m. after posting bail of P1.33-million at the Sandiganbayan.
Estrada was accompanied by his wife, Precy,. All his children – San Juan Vice Mayor Janella, Jolo, Julian, and Jill, as well as his brother Jude, were also there. He said that he was very happy and elated to be reunited with his family.
Help from his Appointee
The Ombudsman did not deny that Aquino indeed has a criminal liability over the SAF 44’s early demise. However, it is not a homicide case. Therefore, he might avoid being imprisoned unless there’s a more serious verdict. Earlier, he already prepared for the worst. Obviously, what goes around, comes around.
The Sandiganbayan voted 3-2 to allow former Senator Jinggoy Estrada to post bail. This is in connection with the plunder case filed against him for allegedly misusing P183 million in pork barrel funds. That left Bong Revilla alone as the prisoner of the previous administration for the same case. His lawyers are now working to follow suit as he entrusted everything to prayers.
Youtube video by; News5Everywhere
[VIDEO]: Ipinaubaya na raw ni dating Sen. Revilla sa kanyang mga abogado kung ano ang magiging diskarte sa kanyang petisyon na makapagpiyansa.
Change of Heart
Only a sudden change of heart would alter the voting and release of the decision. The ruling is to be executed soon. This is if there is no “supervening event.” As Revilla said; It looks like Estrada is already packing up his things to go home. He is very happy for him but also a bit sad that he will be left behind for the time being.
Estrada, who is detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center at Camp Crame in Quezon City, already filed an omnibus motion before the anti-graft court. He seeks his release from detention. Estrada’s impending freedom follows that of former Senate president Juan Ponce Enrile, who was granted bail in August 2015 for humanitarian reasons. The President supports this development because he believes that if posting bail must be available to all the accused in that particular case.
Grateful to the President
Estrada expresses his appreciation to the President whom he thinks only applies his knowledge as a former prosecutor. He is confident that Du30 studied their cases. That’s why he knows what he’s talking about. However, this worries the Sandiganbayan as Revilla could follow the same path. Also, this can lead to the acquittal of Senator Juan Ponce Enrile and Atty. Gigi Reyes’ cases.
Revilla to Follow Suit
The development leaves Revilla as the only former Senator in jail for the priority development assistance fund or PDAF scam. Several lawmakers were accused of funneling money for years to fake nongovernment organizations set up by businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles in exchange for huge commissions. Perhaps a good sign that Aquino’s influence now starts to fade.
The Sandiganbayan’s First Division did not push through today’s plunder trial – instead, it is set for June 1. It’s the 6th schedule after 5 postponements since January. This is apparently to give way to the additional marking of voluminous evidence related to Revilla’s pork barrel projects. It allegedly allowed him to pocket P224.5 million in kickbacks.
Youtube video by; Elena Grace Flores
[VIDEO]: Bong Revilla’s hearing is again postponed to June 1, 2017
Lead prosecutor Joefferson Toribio defended the delay in the marking. He said that each SARO has 4 thick folders of evidence. Revilla’s plunder case is connected to 16 SAROs all in all. So, the enormous amount of evidence can use up a lot of time when scrutinized thoroughly.
Disagreement on Unclear Copies
Toribio also complained that Revilla’s lawyers are also delaying the trial. Revilla’s chief of staff, Richard Cambe moved to withdraw some documents for being illegible. Toribio said that while producing clearer copies, Revilla’s lawyers refused to agree that the clearer copies and the original illegible copies are identical.
Concerned with Detained Revilla?
First Division Chair Associate Justice Efren dela Cruz did not accept Toribio’s reasons because it was the Revilla camp’s prerogative to be thorough with the documents. Dela Cruz told Revilla’s lawyers: “He’s just concerned for your client who is detained,” which lightened up the mood in the court – but certainly, Revilla is for sure still frustrated with longer time in jail.
The prosecution is due to present 48 witnesses who would prove that the projects supposed to be funded by Revilla’s pork barrel are non-existent. Revilla’s new lawyer, Estelito Mendoza, contested the inclusion of such testimonies which Revilla’s previous lawyers had allowed. But Dela Cruz mentioned that these testimonies can’t be removed just because a new lawyer wants to reorganize things.