MANILA - The Sandiganbayan on Thursday allowed the suspension of the plunder trial of former Senator Bong Revilla until February 15, giving him time to secure a temporary restraining order from the Supreme Court.
Acting on the motion of Revilla, Sandiganbayan 1st Division Chairperson Efren Dela Cruz allowed the cancellation of the presentation of evidence by the defense, despite the objection of the prosecution.
Revilla has asked the court to suspend the proceedings in light of the petition for certiorari which he filed before the Supreme Court.
“We will give accused Revilla time to work on the TRO,” Dela Cruz said during the hearing.
The prosecution had objected to the suspension of the trial, citing the Rules of Court which prohibit the cancellation of hearings unless there is a TRO from the high court.
After the hearing, Revilla’s lawyer Estelito Mendoza said that he is hopeful the SC will issue a TRO before February 15.
“I am an optimist and I hope the Supreme Court will act on our prayers for the issuance of a TRO,” Mendoza said.
The court however said that if the defense failed to secure a TRO before February 15, the defense will be compelled to present their own evidence.
Revilla is facing plunder and 16 counts of graft for allegedly pocketing P224.5 million worth of kickbacks from ghost projects purportedly funded by his pork barrel funds from 2006 to 2010.
The budget was allegedly funneled to bogus foundations identified with businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged scam mastermind.