By Czarina Nicole O. Ong
The plunder trial of former Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. before the Sandiganbayan First Division has been deferred once again pending resolution of the defense’s motion to quash the case.
The defense, which is now led by Atty. Estelito Mendoza, argued that the prosecution failed to sufficiently allege the facts constituting the offense of plunder since there was no allegation that Revilla attained “ill-gotten wealth” through “a combination or series of overt criminal acts.”
The most Revilla can be charged with, according to Mendoza, is direct bribery and not plunder should prosecution be successful in proving that the former senator received kickbacks amounting to P242 million.
Mendoza even said proceeding with the case with incomplete details will violate Revilla’s right to due process.
But director Joefferson Toribio of the prosecution questioned how the defense could complain about the information against Revilla being unclear, since Revilla was able to petition for bail.
Toribio said it seems like the defense’s filing of motion to quash was nothing more than an “afterthought” to buy them more time. “This motion [to quash] is just an afterthought and we are concerned that this will result in delay,” he said.
For his part, Mendoza even said that prosecution should file another offense – this time direct bribery – because plunder is not the same thing.
“Senator Revilla has been arrested. He has been detained for two years but up to this time he does not understand plunder and why he was arrested,” said Mendoza.
Revilla was charged in 2014 together with two other senators, Jinggoy Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile, for allocating his priority development assistance fund (PDAF) to the bogus organizations founded by pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles.
Out of all the senators, Revilla reportedly received the highest amount of kickbacks with P242 million, followed by Estrada with P183 million, and finally Enrile with P172 million.
All three senators are facing plunder charges. Plunder is a non-bailable offense and punishable by 30 years imprisonment. Revilla is currently detained at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City.