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Sandigan nixes Revilla’s plea to dismiss plunder case

 

The Sandiganbayan has denied the motion of former Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla to allow his camp to challenge the sufficiency of the prosecution’s evidence in his P224.5-million plunder case.

“After considering the evidence which the court admitted... the court is of the view that there is a need for the accused to present evidence. Therefore, the motions for leave are hereby denied,” First Division Chairman Associate Justice Efren de la Cruz yesterday said.

The other two magistrates of the First Division who deliberated on the motions were Associate Justices Geraldine Faith Econg and Reynaldo Cruz.
Aside from Revilla, alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles and the former lawmaker’s aide, Richard Cambe, also filed the same motions which were likewise denied.
In their respective motions for leave to file a demurrer, Revilla, Cambe, Napoles maintained that the prosecution failed to present any documentary or testimonial evidence that could prove that they committed all the elements of plunder provided under Republic Act 7080 or the Plunder Law.
While de la Cruz stressed the accused can still file their demurrer to evidence should they wish to do so within a period of 10 days, it would be risky on their part if the demurrer is denied since the court will consider as waived the defense’s right to present evidence, and will base its decision solely on evidence presented by the prosecution.
Revilla’s lead lawyer Estelito Mendoza, at the sidelines of the hearing, said they will study their options.
“We have the right to file the demurrer within 10 days. But that would mean we waive the presentation of evidence. There is a risk there,” he told reporters.
“I have to discuss with the other lawyers and also to senator Revilla,” Mendoza stressed.
But the veteran lawyer also maintained the evidence was not strong enough to convict Revilla for plunder even without rebuttal by the defense.
“I think our position that the information has not charged the offense of plunder is very solid because the alleged overt criminal acts are not illegal, are not criminal,” he said.
“I stand by our argument that there no evidence presented showing that Bong Revilla accepted a single peso from the P224-million alleged kickbacks,” Mendoza stressed.
Sought for comment, Revilla only replied “Merry Christmas” to reporters.
Based on the information of the case, Revilla, through Cambe, received from Napoles a total of P224,512,500 in kickbacks of commissions in exchange for the allocation of his pork barrel to the latter’s bogus non-government organizations.
Revilla and Cambe are currently detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City while Napoles is detained in Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City.

 

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