MANILA - The detention of former Sen. Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr. for his alleged involvement in the multibillion-peso "pork barrel" scam has become punitive, his lawyer Estelito Mendoza said Thursday.
Following a hearing on Revilla's plunder case at the Sandigabayan 1st Division, Mendoza noted the "slow" pace of the prosecution's presentation of numerous witnesses against his client.
“I will raise this point to the court at the proper time. His detention has ceased to be preventive, but punitive,” Mendoza said.
Mendoza, however, refused to say if he would be filing a motion for bail, similar to what he did in the case of another client, former Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile. The Supreme Court granted the former lawmaker's bail petition on humanitarian grounds in August 2015.
“We will see. I think it’s not a matter of being allowed, it’s the responsibility of the court itself to assure that human rights are not violated under its umbrella,” Mendoza said.
Revilla shared his lawyer's sentiments and expressed hopes that concerns about his detention would be addressed by the court.
“Nami-miss ko na ang show business, gusto ko bumalik sa paga-artista. Public service naman, kahit wala sa pulitika andoon pa rin 'yan,” Revilla said.
Revilla also thanked President Rodrigo Duterte for his statements on the Ombudsman and the pork barrel scam cases filed against lawmakers.
Duterte recently hit Morales for alleged "selective justice."
“Nagpapasalamat tayo kay Pangulong Duterte at least na-oobserbahan din pala niya," he said.
At Thursday's hearing, the prosecution presented three more witnesses against Revilla: ex-Kidapawan City Mayor Rodolfo Ganduangco; Cortes, Surigao Del Sur municipal agriculturist Gil Escalante; and Landbank of the Philippines Assistant Vice President Francisco Burgos.
Ganduangco and Escalante, like the other past witnesses, testified on the supposed agricultural packages from non-government organizations identified with businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles.
Burgos' testimony was cut short after Mendoza asked for the authorization to open books related to the accounts of NGOs associated with Napoles, the alleged scam mastermind.
Prosecutors said they did not have the letter at hand but promised to bring it to the next hearing.