Sandiganbayan clears Revilla, 6 others of graft in pork barrel cases
Aileen Cerrudo • July 5, 2021 • 356
MANILA, Philippines — The Sandiganbayan has cleared Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. and six others of graft cases relating to the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or the pork barrel scam.
Revilla was accused of diverting his PDAF funds to bogus non-government organizations which involved the so-called Pork Barrel Queen, Janet Lim Napoles.
Based on the ruling of the Sandiganbayan First Division that was released on Monday (July 5), the court granted Revilla’s demurrer to evidence acquitting the Senator of 16 counts of graft on grounds of insufficiency of evidence.
“The bonds posted by accused Revilla are hereby ordered released, subject to the usual accounting and auditing procedures. The Hold Departure Order issued against them are also set aside and declared functus officio,” the ruling stated.
Also dismissed from the case are Mario Relampagos, Rosario Nunez, Lalaine Paule, Marilou Bare, Encarnita Christina Munsod, and Chita Jalandoni.
Meanwhile, the court did not grant Napoles on her demurrer to evidence, meaning the graft cases filed against her will continue to trial.
In a statement, Revilla said the dismissal is proof that the accusations filed against him have no basis.
“The Sandiganbayan, by granting our Demurrer to Evidence and dismissing all the charges against me, validates what we have known from the very beginning – that all the accusations against me have no basis and any leg to stand on,” he said.
“I am not, and never have been involved in graft and corruption. This is the reason why I did not run; I did not hide; and did not evade the judicial system. I put my trust and my life in our Courts. The truth has come out. Now, I can move forward to serving our nation and our people even further, free of this nuisance,” he added.
The Sandiganbayan also acquitted Revilla of plunder in relation to the pork barrel scam in December 2018. –AAC (with reports from Dante Amento)
MANILA, Philippines – The Judicial and Bar Council on Thursday announced it has extended the application period for several vacant positions in the Court of Appeals (CA), and other courts.
In an advisory, the JBC said it moved the deadline from August 25 to September 25 following requests for extension of the deadline of submission of documents owing to the difficulty in securing documents in view of the imposition of modified enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila and nearby provinces.
Metro Manila and the provinces of Bulacan, Rizal, Laguna, and Cavite were placed under MECQ from August 4 to 18. It has now shifted to general community quarantine status.
The JBC said there are job openings in the CA, Sandiganbayan, Court of Tax Appeals (CTA) as well as in the Legal Education Board.
CA vacancies are for the positions left by Justices Rodil Zalameda, Edgardo Delos Santos, Mario Lopez, and Samuel Gaerlan who were appointed to the Supreme Court; Justices Luisa Padilla and Jane Aurora Lantion who compulsorily retired in January 2020.
The opening in Sandiganbayan is for the position left by the late Justice Reynaldo Cruz, while the CTA vacancies are for the positions formerly held by retired Justices Cielito Mindaro-Grulla and Esperanza Fabon-Victorino.
The JBC also said applications are also open for several positions in the Legal Education Board.
The council reminded applicants to access the online application scheduler in its website on or before August 25 to register and selected the date they will submit their documents.
Applicants must also submit the complete and accurate digitized versions of their documents through electronic mail on their selected date and time of appointment in the scheduler.
The submission of hard copies of documentary requirements, however, is suspended until further notice, the JBC said.
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla said he has filed a bill seeking to impose taxes on digital content and services to boost the country’s national economic recovery plan amid the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis.
In a statement on Wednesday, Revilla said he filed Resolution No. 410 calling on the Senate Committee on Ways and Means and other appropriate panels to conduct an inquiry into the possibility of collecting taxes from “multinational online streaming services and the digital economy in general.”
“We need to embrace the digital revolution of our time, and to comprehensively review and update our existing tax laws regarding digital economy,” Revilla said.
The senator believes that the revenues raised from digital taxes could “finance the national economic recovery plan, especially the rehabilitation of severely affected industries, and the construction of ‘Schools for the Future’ which are equipped with digital technologies and laboratories.”
He also pointed out that Filipinos are recognized as “voracious online users” who are said to typically spend around 10 hours of their time in the internet, exceeding the global daily average of six hours and 42 minutes.
“Filipinos spend at least 3.3 hours daily watching online content on mobile devices,” he said.
Revilla also said that some of the most technologically-advanced countries such as Norway, Australia, Japan, France, South Korea, United Kingdom, Singapore, and Malaysia have already adopted and passed their respective versions of digital service tax laws.
“Habang patuloy po ang pagpapatupad natin ng quarantine measures tulad ng social distancing at pagbabawal sa mass gathering, at sa pagpasok nga po natin doon sa tinatawag na ‘New Normal,’ tiyak pong mas marami tayong kababayan na gagamit ng technology-based services tulad ng mga online streaming at online market,” he said.
Revilla pointed out that while local online businesses have already been covered by the country’s taxation laws, multinational corporations with more sophisticated technological capabilities, less physical presence yet wider reach may have to be properly taxed given the outdated provisions and leakages in tax measures.
A similar proposal was recently filed in the House of Representatives by Albay Rep. Joey Salceda.
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