TIMELINE: Ramon ‘Bong’ Revilla and the multi-billion pesos ‘pork barrel’ scam

Marje Pelayo   •   December 7, 2018   •   5169

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

Sandiganbayan clears Revilla, 6 others of graft in pork barrel cases

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 5, 2021

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)

JBC extends application period for CA, CTA, Sandiganbayan vacancies

Robie de Guzman   •   August 20, 2020

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.

Sandiganbayan junks raps vs Purisima, Napeñas over Mamasapano clash

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 22, 2020

The Sandiganbayan has dismissed the charges against former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima and ex-PNP Special Action Force chief Getulio Napeñas over the Mamasapano clash in 2015.

The dismissal of the charges against the two former police officers was due to the lack of probable cause to charge them of graft and usurpation of official functions complaints for their involvement in the anti-terrorist operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao in 2015.

The said operation led to the deaths of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos.

Purisima was charged for still leading the operation to kill terrorists Zulkifli bin Hir or Marwan and Abdul Basit Usman, under Oplan Exodus, despite being suspended as the Philippine National Police (PNP) chief.

Napeñas, on the other hand, was also charged for allegedly conspiring with Purisima.

Based on the resolution, Purisima and Napeñas cannot be charged due to the lack of sufficient evidence.

“There is no mention in the information, nor any evidence on record, that accused Napeñas received or expected to receive any material remuneration or consideration therefor,” the resolution states. “It could not be said that Purisima was under the pretense of being a PNP chief because he was ordered by his president and commander-in-chief to perform such supervision and monitoring.”

Purisima and Napeñas were charged with violating Section 3(a) of the anti-graft law which punishes “persuading, inducing or influencing another public officer to perform an act constituting a violation of rules and regulations.”

Meanwhile, the Sandiganbayan said the dismissal of the criminal complaints did not mean that the two accused had no liability over the Mamasapano clash and appropriate charges can still be filed against them.

“What the court merely ruled is the non-existence of probable cause against Napeñas in both charges and the insufficiency of the allegations in the information filed against Purisima,” the resolution reads.—AAC

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