Bong Revilla asks SC to release him from jail, halt Sandigan proceedings

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 22 2018 01:07 PM

MANILA - Former Senator Bong Revilla has filed a petition for certiorari asking the Supreme Court to order the Sandiganbayan 1st Division to halt its proceedings in his plunder trial and release him from his detention cell in Camp Crame.

In Revilla’s petition for certiorari, his lawyers Estelito Mendoza and Ramon Esguerra are asking the Supreme Court to issue a writ of preliminary injuction or an order restraining further proceedings at the Sandiganbayan.

They also want the SC to grant “provisional liberty” to Revilla until the final disposition of the petition for certiorari.

“With the final ruling of the Sandiganbayan that 'there is a need for the petitioner to present their (his) evidence,' the anguishing reality that brings the petitioner before this Court is that he is in peril of losing his liberty, reclusion perpetua, as the Sandiganbayan may 'play fast and loose' not only as to what 'acts' constitute the offense of plunder but also as to what evidence was offered by the prosecution and admitted by the Sandiganbayan," Revilla's lawyers said,

"In short, his fate lies entirely in the Sandiganbayan’s hands, unless this Court intervenes to prevent and rectify the violation of the procedural safeguards enshrined in the Constitution, the Rules on Criminal Procedure and Rules on Evidence which spell the difference between 'rule by law and rule by whim or caprice,'” they added.

The petition for certiorari comes after the decision of the anti-graft court denying the motion for leave of Revilla, which would have paved the way for filing a demurrer to evidence.

Revilla’s camp emphasized a provision in the Rules of Court which says that an accused may opt not to present his own evidence if the prosecution failed to present strong evidence against him.

After the presentation of evidence by government prosecutors, Revilla’s camp has consistently said that there was no strong evidence to prove the former lawmaker's guilt in the plunder case arising from the Priority Development Assistance Fund scam.

“It follows where the prosecution fails to prove beyond reasonable doubt every element of the offense, the accused may remain silent. He need not offer evidence in his defense,” Revilla’s lawyers said.

Revilla’s camp also emphasized that they can no longer expect due process and fair trial from the Sandiganbayan 1st Division led by Associate Justice Efren Dela Cruz, after the denial of their motion for leave to file demurrer to evidence.

They said the past decisions of the court, “now viewed together with the Sandiganbayan’s order directing the petitioner to present his evidence, there can not be a more massive assault on the rights of petitioner to due process and to a fair trial.

Revilla’s lawyers have also asked the Supreme Court to set their case for oral arguments.