First division sets bail hearings
MANILA - The prosecutors of the Office of the Ombudsman will have to make do with the original information or charges they filed against Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., which they earlier admitted to be wanting.
Before the arraignment of Revilla and his co-accused in the plunder and graft charges on Thursday morning, the Sandiganbayan dismissed the prosecutors’ move to amend the information.
The prosecutors wanted to insert the words "collecting (kickbacks) directly or indirectly (from businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles)” in the charges against the senators.
Originally, it was worded in such a way that the three senators only “received” kickbacks from Napoles.
Defense lawyers said this only emphasizes the alleged crime of Napoles, not the senators. They said that if Napoles were the only one who profited from the pork barrel transactions, there would be no plunder by the senators.
Revilla’s lawyers pounced on this further, saying there was no basis therefore for detaining Revilla.
The prosecution also moved to add the phrase, "by exerting undue pressure on the implementing agencies to favorably act on his endorsement of the NGOs of Napoles to ensure that his [Priority Development Assistance Fund] be in the possession and control of Napoles and her cohorts which undue pressure and endorsement, were in exchange of kickbacks percentage or commissions, thereby unjustly enriching himself,” to the charges against the senators.
Revilla and his colleagues, Senators Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. and Juan Ponce Enrile, earlier put the blame on government agencies – the implementing agencies – for not assessing the capability of NGOs to which their pork barrel will be channeled. The NGOs turned out to be bogus.
One major requisite to prove plunder is conspiracy.
Meanwhile, the first division has already set the hearings on the motion for bail of Revilla.
While bail is not a matter of right in plunder cases, this could stall the trial proper.
The motion will be first heard on July 10 at 8:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. The subsequent hearings will be held the next Thursdays.