Sandiganbayan's dismissal of charges against Revilla tantamount to acquittal: lawyer

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 06 2021 10:40 AM

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MANILA - The anti-graft court's dismissal of graft charges against Sen. Ramon "Bong" Revilla, Jr. in relation to his alleged involvement in the multibillion-peso pork barrel scam is tantamount to an acquittal, his lawyer said Tuesday.

"The resolution dismissing the case against the good senator is tantamount to an acquittal and if it will be very, very difficult, if not impossible, for the prosecution to bring this up, all the way up to the Supreme Court because the effect there is that it is an acquittal," lawyer Ramon Esguerra told ANC.

The Sandiganbayan has granted Revilla's demurrer to evidence that effectively dismissed the last remaining cases against him in relation to his alleged involvement in the anomalous Priority Development Assistance Fund scam.

Under the racket, discretionary funds were allegedly allocated to fake NGOs and diverted to the pockets of lawmakers and those behind the scheme, chiefly businesswoman Janet Napoles.

The anti-graft court also dismissed the remaining cases against Revilla's former chief of staff Richard Cambe due to his death. Cambe died of stroke while jailed at the New Bilibid Prison last April.

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

The prosecution had accused Revilla of pocketing P224 million in discretionary funds during his previous senatorial term.

In the interview, Esguerra said the prosecution had failed to provide evidence of Cambe giving kickbacks to Revilla.

"There was not any evidence where Cambe somehow is shown to have given something or to have deposited something to the accounts of the good senator," he said. "Again, that's not our problem. The problem there is with the prosecution."