Prosecution’s blunder could save Revilla, says lawyer Bodegon
MANILA - Lawyer Joel Bodegon believes there was a “sinister” move by government prosecutors to turn businesswoman Janet Napoles into a state witness as proven by their act to amend the information against his client, Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr.
In an interview with ANC, Bodegon said the act of the Office of the Ombudsman’s prosecutors to amend the information before Revilla’s arraignment on Thursday morning “downgraded the level of participation and involvement of private individuals accused, such as Napoles.”
He said he and his co-counsels are keenly watching this “because we sense something sinister in this ploy.”
The amended complaint shifts the blame on Revilla as the mastermind in all the shady pork barrel transactions. The original information was worded in such a way that Revilla – as well as the other senators with respect to their individual cases – only received kickbacks from Napoles.
He took note of the fact that Napoles even changed her tune when she came out with a list naming several lawmakers in the modus operandi.
“It’s like a bargain testimony,” he said.
During this morning’s hearing, the Sandiganbayan junked nonetheless the move of the prosecution to highlight the alleged plunder by Revilla.
The justices asked the prosecution if the information they originally filed could stand in the legal battle, to which the latter answered “yes.”
Under court rules, changes to the information can be done before the arraignment.
However, Bodegon said, in his client's case, substantial changes were introduced that “already confers jurisdiction on the court."
It was the same original information that was used as basis by the Sandiganbayan to order the arrest of Revilla.
The prosecution itself admitted that the original information was vague, Bodegon noted.
“When you say that, you’re castigating the Sandiganbayan for making a judicial determination that the information filed was okay,” he said.
Bodegon said the anti-graft court should “not countenance” the actions of the Ombudsman.
Now that the case remains anchored on the original information, Bodegon said the Sandiganbayan should therefore nullify the warrant of arrest and the subsequent detention of Revilla.
He said they will also make use of the amended information as evidence against the prosecution itself.
“We would now be using this motion to amend as evidence against the prosecution since it was filed in court… It constitutes a judicial admission and you can only undo that kind of filing only if you prove that it was done through a palpable mistake,” he said.