MANILA—The Sandiganbayan on Thursday denied the motion of former Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla, Jr. to dismiss his plunder case for his alleged involvement in the misuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
In a ruling written by Associate Justice Efren Dela Cruz and promulgated on Feb. 23, 2017, the Sandiganbayan First Division said that Revilla’s motion to quash his plunder information had no merit.
The Sandiganbayan said that it was not convinced by Revilla’s contention that his endorsement of the bogus foundations of accused scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles did not fall under the overt acts in the plunder law.
Detained businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles is the alleged “brains” behind the Php 10-billion pork barrel and the Php 900-million Malampaya Fund scams.
“The accused’s contention that it was his endorsement that was the overt criminal act alluded to the information is misleading,” the Sandiganbayan said.
“It was clear from the information that the endorsement was part of the whole process, or as described in the information, it was ‘under the following circumstances’ of how the kickbacks or commissions were allegedly repeatedly received by accused-movant from Napoles to her representatives,” it added.
The Sandiganbayan said that Revilla’s reliance on co-accused Juan Ponce Enrile’s bill of particulars was also misplaced because this was different from the motion to quash, especially because a bill of particulars assumed the information was valid, while a motion to quash deemed the information defective.
It agreed with the prosecution that Revilla is fully informed of the plunder information against him as shown by his filing of a motion for judicial determination of probable cause and a petition for bail and his active participation in the case.
The Sandiganbayan also cited Revilla’s arraignment on June 26, 2014 when he pleaded not guilty after understanding the information against him.
It said that it was compelled to deny Revilla’s motion to quash, which seemed like a last resort for the accused after losing his chance to file a motion for a bill of particulars after his arraignment.
“This Court is thus constrained to deny the present motion to quash, which is unmistakably an afterthought and a feeble attempt to make up for lost remedy,” the Sandiganbayan said.
Concurring with the ruling were Associate Justices Geraldine Faith Econg and Bernelito Fernandez.
In his motion to quash, Revilla through his lawyers, said that the information filed against him failed to sufficiently allege the facts constituting plunder.
Revilla added that the prosecution’s failure to inform him of his charges violates his constitutional right to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him, and his right to due process of law.
He argued that the information against him also does not constitute an offense of plunder, and thus must be quashed pursuant to Section(a) Rule 117 of the Rules of Court.
“Wherefore, for the foregoing reasons, accused Revilla respectfully prays that the Information in the instant case be quashed,” Revilla’s motion said.
Revilla surrendered and was detained at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center in Quezon City in 2014 for plunder for allegedly pocketing Php 224.5 million in kickbacks from his PDAF in the scheme of using the pork barrel fund in ghost projects by Napoles.
Also detained for plunder is former Senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, who was denied bail while accused of pocketing Php 183.7 million kickbacks.
Enrile, who is now out on bail, is accused of receiving Php 172.8 million kickbacks.
Their plunder and graft charges were filed before the Sandiganbayan by the Office of the Ombudsman’s (Ombudsman) Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) in June 2014.