Revilla’s graft trial reset to Jan. 25

MANILA — The Sandiganbayan has deferred the graft trial of detained former Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla, Jr. and reset it to January 25, 2018.

This was after both the defense and prosecution lawyers filed late comments on the proceeding’s pre-trial order (PTO).

A PTO contains both parties’ list of witnesses and exhibits that will be used during the course of the proceedings.

Sandiganbayan First Division Chairman Associate Justice Efren Dela Cruz said the deferment was caused by the “late filing of comments of the parties,” which forced the delay in the finalization of the PTO.

“[The parties] will have to check if the comments they filed are accurately reflected in the final version of the pre-trial order,” Dela Cruz said.

He also lamented the time wasted due to the delay of the PTO’s signing.

The parties are expected to receive soft copies of the final draft of the PTO by Thursday. They would then be given two days to comment anew.

Both parties are expected to sign the PTO on January 18.

Dela Cruz warned to hold three of Revilla’s co-accused — Rhodora Mendoza, Encarnita Cristina Munsod, and Maria Niñez Guañizo — in contempt if they fail to appear on January 25, 2018.

In the notices of disallowance (NDs) issued by the Commission on Audit (COA), some PHP517 million of Revilla’s Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or “pork barrel,” was released to the Technology Resource Center (TRC), National Livelihood and Development Corp (NLDC), and the National Agri-Business Corporation (NABCOR).

The funds were then allegedly funneled to fake non-government organizations (NGOs) operated by businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles.

Napoles is the alleged “brains” behind the PHP10-billion pork barrel and the PHP900-million Malampaya Fund scams.

Aside from 16 counts of graft, Revilla is also accused of plunder for allegedly pocketing PHP224.5-million worth of “kickbacks” by allocating portions of his PDAF to the fake NGOs.