By Czarina Nicole Ong
Guilty or not guilty? The Sandiganbayan First Division is all set to promulgate its decision on former Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr.’s plunder case involving the multi-million priority development assistance fund (PDAF) scam on December 7.
Chairperson/Associate Justice Efren De La Cruz, together with Associate Justices Geraldine Faith Econg and Edgardo Caldona, has finally issued a supplemental order regarding the promulgation schedule on November 5.
“Further the Order, dated August 9, 2018, the Court hereby sets the promulgation of the decision of this case on December 7, 2018, at 8:30 in the morning,” it read.
Revilla is facing one plunder charge and 16 counts of graft because of the misuse of his priority development assistance fund (PDAF), which he reportedly endorsed to the bogus non-government organizations (NGOs) owned by Janet Lim Napoles in exchange for kickbacks amounting to P224,512,500.
Because of his plunder charge, Revilla remains locked up in the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City.
Aside from Revilla, former Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada were also charged with plunder. However, the two were already released from jail for different reasons. Enrile got out because of humanitarian considerations, while Estrada was allowed to post bail amounting to P1,330,000 – P1 million for plunder, and P330,000 for his 11 graft charges.
The verdict of the Sandiganbayan on Revilla’s case this December will definitely affect his political plans. Last October 17, Revilla filed his certificate of candidacy (COC) as a senator through his wife, Bacoor Mayor Lani Mercado.
But even if he is convicted, Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang said that he will still be able to run.
“Conviction per se is not a disqualification,” she explained. “The judgment of conviction must be final and executory. This means that the judgment of conviction is ripe for execution which is realized by the service of the sentence by the convicted accused.”
“So, if there is a pending motion for reconsideration of or appeal from the judgment of conviction, the disqualification does not yet attach,” she added.