By Czarina Nicole Ong
While the Office of the Special Prosecutor wants former Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla to be held civilly liable of his plunder charge, of which he was acquitted, Revilla’s lawyers are maintaining that he had no obligation to pay back the government anything.
“As a true sportsman of the Bar: Take Revilla’s vindication with grace,” his lawyers told the prosecution in its opposition.
Last December 7, Revilla was cleared of plunder while his former chief of staff, Richard Cambe, and Janet Lim Napoles were convicted in relation to the priority development assistance fund (PDAF) scam.
The accused were “held solidarily and jointly liable” to return P124,500,000 to the national treasury pursuant to Article 100 of the Revised Penal Code, but the 186-page decision failed to indicate who among them should pay.
The prosecution believes that Revilla, Napoles and Cambe should all be held accountable for the return of government funds, but Revilla and his team insist that only Napoles and Cambe should do so.
Earlier this January, the prosecution filed a motion for execution of judgment, urging the Sandiganbayan to issue a writ of execution with regards to the former senator’s civil liability.
“Indeed, if Revilla is not civilly liable, the December 7, 2018 decision would have explicitly declared it so,” their motion read.
However, Revilla’s lawyers said that the prosecution’s motion was “fatally inadequate” because of its misinterpretation of the court’s decision.
“Even the body of the decision shows that Revilla did not directly or indirectly receive the rebates, commission and kickbacks from his PDAF. Hence, there is nothing for him to return,” the opposition stated.
They added that the prosecution’s motion came too late, and any discussion implying guilt – even if it is limited to civil liability – elicited a reminder from the Supreme Court in its ruling in People vs. Velasco.
The ruling said that “the state with all its resources and power should not be allowed to make repeated attempts to convict an individual for an alleged offense, thereby subjecting him to embarrassment, expense and ordeal and compelling him to live in a continuing state of anxiety and insecurity.”
They also reminded the prosecution that Revilla has already been jailed for over four years in Camp Crame, Quezon City because of his plunder charge, only to be cleared later.