Tuesday 18 December 2018
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rappler - 12 days ago

Sandiganbayan acquits Bong Revilla of plunder

This is a developing story. Please refresh for updates. MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The anti-graft court Sandiganbayan acquitted former senator Ramon Bong Revilla Jr of plunder in a much-awaited verdict issued on Friday, December 7. The court s special first division ruled via majority vote that Revilla is not guilty of earning P224.5 million worth of kickbacks through the pork barrel scam. The anti-graft court also ordered the return of P124 million to the Philippine treasury. Revilla s former staff Richard Cambe and businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles were found guilty of plunder and sentenced to reclusion perpetua or imprisonment of at least 20 years. Revilla was accused of funneling his pork barrel through bogus non-governmental organizations (NGOs) linked to Napoles. Associate Justices Geraldine Faith Econg, Edgardo Caldona, and Georgina Hidalgo voted for Revilla’s acquittal. Justices Efren dela Cruz and Ma. Theresa Dolores Gomez-Estoesta dissented. Hidalgo and Estoesta joined the special division of 5 as special members after the first division regular members reached an impasse on the vote. The regular members of the first division are Dela Cruz, Econg, and Caldona. Revilla is now free after 4 years of detention. This concludes 4 years of legal battle for Revilla, and marks the first-ever decision in what is arguably the biggest corruption scandal to hit Philippine politics in recent history. Auditors and investigators uncovered a long-running, elaborate scam that used lawmakers discretionary funds for projects which turned out to be fake or non-existent. Revilla’s lawyer Ramon Esguerra confirmed that the court ordered Revilla, Napoles, and Cambe ro return P124 million, but said they will appeal this, arguing that Revilla cannot be found criminally liable. The Office of the Ombudsman, under then-chief Conchita Carpio Morales, took the lead in prosecuting more than a hundred cases related to the same scam. State prosecutors presented to the court bank evidence which showed matching details between star witness Benhur Luy s financial records and deposits in Revilla s bank accounts. Revilla has filed his candidacy for senator in 2019. – Rappler.com

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