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.