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Sandigan: Decision on plunder case vs. Bong Revilla known on December 7

GMA News Online logo GMA News Online 11/8/2018 Merueñas, Mark
Bong Revilla holding a sign: Attending the hearing on his plunder case in connection with the pork barrel scam on Thursday, August 10, 2017, detained former senator Ramon Bong Revilla Jr. expresses confidence that he will be acquitted and freed soon. GMA News Attending the hearing on his plunder case in connection with the pork barrel scam on Thursday, August 10, 2017, detained former senator Ramon Bong Revilla Jr. expresses confidence that he will be acquitted and freed soon. GMA News

The fate of detained former Senator "Bong" Revilla Jr. will be determined on December 7 when the Sandiganbayan promulgates its decision on the plunder case against him over the multi-billion-peso pork barrel fund scam, some four years after it was filed.

"The Court hereby sets the promulgation of the decision of this case on December 7, 2018, at 8:30 in the morning," the First Division said in its supplemental order dated November 5.

The Sandiganbayan is also set to render its judgment for his co-accused, former aide Atty. Richard Cambe and alleged scheme mastermind Janet Lim Napoles.

Revilla will become the first accused in the multi-billion-peso scheme to be handed with a verdict before the Sandiganbayan. This will also be the first for Napoles among the five plunder and numerous graft charges she is facing.

In contrast, the cases of Revilla's former Senate colleagues, Jinggoy Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile, are still at the trial and pre-trial stages, respectively. All three of them are seeking Senate seats anew. 

The verdict for Revilla and his co-accused comes more than four years since their indictment at the Sandiganbayan on June 6, 2014. Revilla, for his part, surrendered to authorities on June 20.

Revilla is accused of allegedly amassing ill-gotten wealth worth P224.5 million by channeling his Priority Development Assistance Fund, or pork barrel, to the fake foundations of Napoles.

The Sandiganbayan continued the hearings even if Revilla's legal team sought for his release from jail and the dismissal of his case before the Supreme Court.

It wrapped up the proceedings after the prosecution bared that it was resting its case on August 9 after more than a year of trial, wherein Revilla himself testified in his defense.

During his testimony on June 28, Revilla said he never understood the charges filed by prosecutors from the Office of the Ombudsman nor did he receive any of the supposed kickbacks from Napoles. 

"I never received money from Janet Lim Napoles at sa mga kasama niya coming from my PDAF or whatsoever. I may have met her, but I don't know her that well. Nakita ko lang siya sa mga parties," Revilla had said.

The former lawmaker said in his closing arguments that the prosecution failed to overcome his presumption of innocence especially after state-witness Marina Sula retracted her testimony.

Sula had said it was fellow whistleblower Benhur Luy who forged the signatures of Revilla facilitating the release of PDAF funds and she was supposedly coached by the prosecution on what to say in her testimony during the bail hearings. 

The prosecution, however, said the recantation of Sula will have no bearing in its case against Revilla.

Deputy Special Prosecutor Manuel Soriano had said the testimony of Sula may be the result of her fears of indictment in other pending cases against her such as the complaint filed by the Anti-Money Laundering Council.

He added Sula still testified that it was Cambe who signed the memorandum of agreements in favor of the Napoles foundations on behalf of his former boss.

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