Bong Revilla. File Photo
MANILA (UPDATE) - The Sandiganbayan First Division has ordered the suspension of Senator Bong Revilla and his chief of staff, Atty Richard Cambe, from office for a period of 90 days.
The resolution is in favor of the motion filed by the prosecution last June 30 praying for their suspension as mandated by the provisions of the plunder law, saying that the validity of the plunder case filed against them is no longer in question with their arraignment proceedings over.
The prosecution said suspension should be issued as a matter of course.
According to Section 5 of the Plunder Law, "any public officer against whom any prosecution under a valid information under this Act in whatever stage of execution and mode of participation, is pending in court, shall be suspended from office. Should he be convicted by final judgment, he shall lose all retirement or gratuity benefits under any law, but if he is acquitted, he shall be entitled to reinstatement and to the salaries and other benefits which he failed to receive during suspension, unless in the meantime, administrative proceedings have been filed against him."
In his opposition, Senator Revilla pointed out that the validity of the case is still in question, as he had brought the matter to the Supreme Court.
He said the denial of his Motion for the Judicial Determination of Probable Cause is still not final.
The senator also said the suspension is no longer necessary since he cannot influence the proceedings of the court because of his continued detention. The public, he said, would also be denied his services as a senator.
For his part, Cambe assailed the lack of a pre-suspension hearing.
Like Revilla, he also questioned the validity of the case against him.
The anti-graft court has ordered the Senate President to implement the suspension once he has been notified of the finality of the order.
Both Revilla and Cambe are given two weeks to file their motions for reconsideration.
Revilla is accused of pocketing more than P224.5 million in kickbacks from businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles in the pork barrel scam, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) said.