Ombudsman: 'We respect' Bong Revilla's acquittal in 'pork' cases


Posted at Jul 08 2021 03:14 PM | Updated as of Jul 08 2021 03:26 PM

Ombudsman: 'We respect' Bong Revilla's acquittal in 'pork' cases 1
Sen. Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr. in 2018 when he was acquitted by the Sandiganbayan on charges of plunder in connection with the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel scam case. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA — The Office of the Ombudsman on Thursday said it would no longer appeal the decision of the Sandiganbayan to clear Sen. Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr. of his criminal cases in relation to the multibillion-peso Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam.

"The Office of the Ombudsman has rested its case against [Revilla]... The Sandiganbayan First Division voted 3-2 to grant Senator Revilla’s Demurrer to Evidence, and we respect its decision," it said in a statement. 

The Office of the Ombudsman, under its former head Conchita Carpio Morales, stood as prosecutors in the cases filed against those tagged in the pork barrel scandal, where state funds were believed to have been pocketed by some lawmakers in a scheme led by businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles.

But incumbent Samuel Martires had set a new "policy" of waving the white flag in acquittals. 

"Consistent with the defendant’s constitutional right against double jeopardy, Ombudsman Samuel Martires sets the policy of no longer challenging the dismissal of cases/quashal of information and judgments of acquittal... rendered by the trial courts or the Sandiganbayan except when the People were clearly deprived of due process or there was mistrial," his office said. 

In a resolution dated July 1 but released Monday, the Sandiganbayan Special First Division junked the remaining 16 counts of graft against Revilla by granting his demurrer to evidence, essentially a motion to dismiss based on insufficiency of evidence presented by the prosecution.

Revilla, along with former senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada, were accused of receiving kickbacks from Napoles in exchange for funneling part of their discretionary funds to bogus non-government organizations. 

The prosecution had accused the actor-turned-politician of embezzling P224 million in discretionary funds during his previous senatorial term.