FILE PHOTO: Former Senator Bong Revilla Jr.
QUEZON CITY, Philippines – After four and a half years of legal battle, the Sandiganbayan has finally rendered a ‘not guilty’ verdict to former senator Ramon ‘Bong’ Revilla Jr., on the biggest corruption case filed involving lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
However, the former action star-turned-politician was not cleared of 16 counts of graft, but was allowed P480,000 bail for his temporary liberty.
Let’s look back at the events that led to the acquittal of former senator Ramon ‘Bong’ Revilla Jr.
TIMELINE to Bong Revilla’s acquittal
September 16, 2013 – The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) filed plunder complaints before the Office of the Ombudsman against businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles and then Senators Ramon “Bong” Revilla, Jinggoy Estrada, and Juan Ponce Enrille for the alleged misuse of their discretionary funds known as the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
April 1, 2014 – Then Ombudsman Conchita-Carpio Morales issued a resolution indicting the three senators with the PDAF scam queen Janet Lim-Napoles.
June 5, 2014 – The Ombudsman denied the motion for reconsideration of the four accused.
June 6, 2014 – The Ombudsman formally filed plunder cases before the Sandiganbayan against Napoles and the three senators.
June 9, 2014 – The Ombudsman filed 16 counts of graft against Revilla.
June 13, 2014 – The Sandiganbayan raffled the cases against the three senators. Revilla’s case was raffled to the anti-graft court’s first division chaired by Associate Justice Efren dela Cruz.
June 20, 2014 – The Sandiganbayan First Division ordered the arrest of Revilla, Napoles, and their co-accused but Revilla immediately surrendered. He was brought to the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Camp Crame for medical exam and booking procedures then detained at the PNP Custodial Center in accordance to the Supreme Court (SC) order.
June 25, 2014 – The Ombudsman filed a motion to amend the plunder complaint against Revilla.
June 26, 2014 – The Sandiganbayan entered a not guilty plea on Revilla’s behalf after he refused to enter a plea in line with the plunder charges against him.
June 30, 2014 – Special prosecutors asked the Sandiganbayan to suspend Revilla from office citing provisions of Republic Act 7080 or the Plunder Law which states that: “any public officer against whom any criminal prosecution under a valid information under this act shall be suspended from office.”
July 9, 2014 – The pre-trial conference of Revilla’s case began.
July 17, 2014 – The Sandiganbayan conducted a hearing on Revilla’s motion to post bail.
July 24, 2014 – For the first time, whistleblower Benhur Luy who happens to be Napoles’ cousin, testified in court who pinned down Revilla as having transactions with Napoles since 2006.
August 4, 2014 – The Sandiganbayan suspended Revilla for 90 days.
August 14, 2014 – Luy admitted to receiving kickbacks from Napoles but also confessed that he never had seen Revilla sign any document or receive commissions from Napoles.
November 13, 2014 – The Sandiganbayan granted Revilla’s motion to undergo medical check-up at St. Luke’s Medical Center in Taguig City from November 17 to 18.
December 2, 2014 – The Sandiganbayan denied Revilla’s bail plea on ground that the “evidence of guilt is strong against the Senator” as proven by the prosecution but clarified that the decision does not necessarily mean conviction.
February 5, 2015 – The Sandiganbayan ordered the garnishment of P224.5 million worth of Revilla’s assets believed to be products of his kickbacks from the PDAF scam.
July 10, 2015 – The Sandiganbayan granted the request of the prosecution to include in the freeze order Revilla’s properties registered under his other names. The court also ordered to include the joint properties of Revilla with his wife, then Cavite Rep. Lani Mercado.
July 14, 2015 – The Sandiganbayan granted Revilla’s request to visit his ailing father, action star and former Senator Ramon Revilla Sr.
December 6, 2016 – Voting 13-1, the SC denied Revilla’s bid to have the plunder case against him dismissed which was filed in June 2014.
February 14, 2017 – The SC denied with finality the bid of Revilla for the dismissal of the P224-million plunder case against him.
June 22, 2017 – After two-long-years, the trial proper on the plunder case against Revilla and his co-accused finally rolled off.
January 21, 2018 – Revilla filed another petition before the SC accusing the Sandiganbayan of violating his rights as an accused when his motion for leave to file demurrer to evidence as well as his motion to quash and motions for reconsideration have been dismissed by the anti-graft court.
March 21, 2018 – Revilla filed an urgent motion before the SC stopping the Sandiganbayan from conducting further hearings in the plunder case filed against him.
July 24, 2018 – The SC strengthens the legality of the order issued by the Sandiganbayan to freeze more than P200 million assets of Revilla.
August 9, 2018 – The Sandiganbayan First Division wrapped up Revilla’s plunder trial.
September 2018 – The Sandiganbayan First Division submitted Revilla’s plunder case for resolution.
October 2018 – Revilla, through her wife Bacoor Mayor Lani Mercado-Revilla, filed a certificate of candidacy for the senatorial elections in 2019 midterm polls.
December 2018 – The Sandiganbayan created a division of five to rule on the plunder case against Revilla.
December 7, 2018 – The Sandiganbayan acquitted Revilla ruling that the senator was ‘not guilty’ of the plunder charges. He, however, remains civilly liable and was ordered, along with Napoles and his former aide Richard Cambe, to return P124-M to the national treasury. Revilla remains accused for 16 counts of graft. He was granted bail of P480,000.
– UNTV News and Rescue