Sandiganbayan clears Revilla; convicts Napoles, Cambe of plunder

MANILA — The Sandiganbayan on Friday acquitted former Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla, Jr. of plunder case in connection with his alleged involvement in the multi-billion peso Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or “pork barrel” fund scam.

The Sandiganbayan said the prosecution presented insufficient evidence to prove the plunder case against Revilla.

After being cleared of the plunder case, Revilla immediately posted a PHP480,000 bail for the 16 counts of graft before the Clerk of Court of the Sandiganbayan First Division.

The former senator was whisked to the Coaster and brought back to the Philippine National Police National Headquarters in Camp Crame, Quezon City.

He is expected to go home to their house in Bacoor City, Cavite later.

On the other hand, the anti-graft court found businesswoman Janet Napoles and Revilla’s former chief of staff, Richard Cambe, guilty of plunder.

Revilla was detained in 2014, as well as former Senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile. who also were charged with plunder.

Court records showed the Office of the Ombudsman accused Revilla of allegedly amassing PHP224.5 million in “kickbacks” for channeling his PDAF to bogus non-government organizations set up by Napoles.

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

Records also showed that in April 2014, then Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales ordered the filing of plunder case against Revilla, Cambe and Napoles.

The Ombudsman filed the plunder case against the three accused before the Sandiganbayan on June 5, 2014.

Revilla surrendered to the Sandiganbayan on June 20, 2014. His motion for bail for his temporary liberty was denied in December 2014.

Revilla appealed the denial of his motion before the Supreme Court.

However, in July 2018, the Supreme Court junked his appeal.

On Aug. 9, 2018, the prosecution terminated the presentation of the pieces of evidence against Revilla.

Last October, Revilla filed his certificate of candidacy (COC) for senator, through his wife Bacoor City Mayor Lani Mercado, at the Commission on Elections main office in Intramuros, Manila.

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