SC junks Revilla plea in connection with plunder suit

MANILA — The Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed the petition of detained former Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. and four others, including alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles in connection with the plunder charges filed against them on their alleged involvement in the multi-billion pork barrel scam.

In a press conference SC Spokesperson Theodore Te said the high court justices voted 13-1 in favor of dismissing the petitions for lack of merit.

The justices also affirmed the findings of probable cause against all petitioners, and a directive for the Sandiganbayan to charge and commence/continue all necessary proceedings in these cases with deliberate dispatch.

Aside from Revilla and Napoles, the petitioners charged before the Sandiganbayan were Richard Cambe, Revilla’s chief of staff; Ronald John Lim and Raymund De Asis, Staff employees of Napoles.

Te also said that that petitioners had commonly assailed the joint resolution dated March 28, 2014 and the joint order dated June 4, 2014 of the Ombudsman finding probable cause to indict them, among others for plunder and 16 counts of violation of RA 3019, sec 3.

”The Court found no grave abuse of discretion in the indictments stating that, the Ombudsman (and the Sandiganbayan as to petitioners) did not err in finding probable against all the petitioners. Their findings are fully supported by the records of this case and semblance of misapprehension taints the same. Moreover, this Court cannot tag key documentary evidence as forgeries and bar testimonies as hearsay at this stage of the proceedings; otherwise it would defy established jurisprudential norms followed during the preliminary investigation,” Te said as he read the decision.

”The standard of proof is accordingly correlative to what must be proved. Clearly, based on the foregoing disquisitions, the standard of probable cause was adequately hurdled by the prosecution in this case. As scuh, no grave abuse of discretion was committed by the Ombudsman and Sandiganbayan in the proceedings a quo,” Te added.

Revilla has another pending petition with the high tribunal, which seeks grant of bail pending trial of the non-bailable plunder charges in the Sandiganbayan.

Earlier, the Sandiganbayan twice rejected Revilla’s petition for bail in his case, the first in December 1, 2014 and on March 26, 2015 with the anti-graft court saying that it found the prosecution’s evidence against the lawmaker to be “strong.”

The anti-graft court further stressed then that the evidence against Revilla was “compelling” though it clarified that such findings should not be regarded as prejudgment of the merits of the case which it added are best determined only after a full-blown trial of the case.

The former lawmaker is accused of diverting his pork barrel allocations into fake non-government organizations established by businesswoman and alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles in exchange for hefty kickbacks.

Revilla’s co-accused former Senator Jinggoy Estrada is currently detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame while former Senator Juan Ponce Enrile was allowed by the SC to post bail in August last year for humanitarian considerations. Christopher Lloyd Caliwan/