Bank exec witness 'flip flops' during Revilla plunder trial

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 27 2017 12:00 AM

MANILA - A witness in the plunder trial of former Sen. Bong Revilla on Tuesday admitted that he was unsure if there had been a freeze order on the senator's bank account.

The prosecution presented Metrobank executive Donato Espino to testify on the bank accounts of Revilla, his wife Lani, and son Leonard Bryan, in support of the prosecution’s claim that Revilla illegally amassed P224 million from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam.

When asked by Revilla lawyer Estelito Mendoza during cross-examination if there was a freeze order on the senator's bank account, Espino said: “Yes, I think so.” 

But when 1st Division Associate Justice Geraldine Econg later asked the same question, Espino said: “I’m not sure.” 

Revilla said the testimony is proof that there were no red flags in his Metrobank accounts. 

“Parang ano eh, yung witness nila, 'I don’t remember, I don’t remember,' pero sa iba, firm siya, sa akin hindi maalala. Isa lang patunay 'yun na no red flag, walang freeze order sa account,” Revilla told reporters.

Espino, however ,confirmed there was a freeze order on the accounts of Revilla’s co-accused, businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles, when he was asked by Mendoza.

The prosecution, meanwhile, maintained that there was a freeze order on the accounts of Revilla but the witness cannot remember the specific accounts because there were so many.

“Based on the testimony of the witness, he said that there was a freeze order for the Janet Napoles accounts with Metrobank and there was also a freeze order for the Revilla accounts, only that he cannot remember the specific accounts because there were many accounts,” Office of the Special Prosecutor Director Joefferson Toribio said in a text message. 

Espino was the penultimate witness scheduled to be heard by the court, but the camp of Revilla said they will be recalling whistleblowers Benhur Luy, Marina Sula, Merlina Sunas and Mary Arlene Baltazar for additional cross-examination. 

Meantime, Revilla, who celebrated his 51st birthday in detention in Camp Crame on Monday, said he wishes that he will be freed soon. 

“Wish ko sa birthday ko sana makalaya na ako and longer life for my father,” Revilla said. 

Actors Philip Salvador and King Gutierrez attended the hearing to show their support.

Revilla is charged with plunder and 16 counts of graft before the anti-graft court for allegedly pocketing P224.5 million worth of kickbacks from ghost projects purportedly funded by his PDAF from 2006 to 2010.

His PDAF allocations were allegedly funneled to bogus foundations identified with Napoles, the alleged scam mastermind.