MANILA, Philippines—Emboldened by an early setback for the prosecution in court, the camp of Sen. Bong Revilla is moving for the dismissal of the plunder and graft charges against him.
Revilla’s lawyer, Joel Bodegon, said on Friday that he would bring a motion early this week asking the Sandiganbayan to reconsider its earlier determination of probable cause to make the senator stand trial.
Revilla is accused of pocketing P224.5 million in kicbacks from businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged brains behind the P10-billion pork barrel scam.
He is charged with plunder, a non-bailable offense, and is detained in the Custodial Center of the Philippine National Police at Camp Crame in Quezon City. Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, also accused of plunder over the pork barrel scam, is also detained there.
“We will insist on the invalidity of the information and on the dismissal of the case on the ground that the information upon which Senator Revilla submitted to the jurisdiction of the court and was arraigned is void,” Bodegon said in a telephone interview.
He said the state prosecutors’ attempt to introduce amendments to the complaint against Revilla, which was denied by the Sandiganbayan’s First Division, showed “there was no case” against the senator.
“If you [bring charges against] somebody [that are] not in accordance with law … the information is void,” Bodegon said.
He said the information was defective because it charged alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Napoles, an ordinary citizen, with plunder.
Plunder is an offense that can be brought only against public officials who amass at least P50 million in ill-gotten wealth.
Last Thursday, the First Division junked the prosecutors’ amendments to the plunder case against Revilla because the changes would alter the court’s finding that there was probable cause to make the senator stand trial, the reason it ordered his arrest and detention.
Bodegon said the denial of the amended information showed that the anti-graft court was fair.
“The Sandiganbayan is really operating as a court. It acts on the basis of what the law provides and the rules allow,” he said.
He described the denial as a “little victory” for the defense via Inquirer.
– DONNA ABIGAIL L. BULA
LNU ABCom Intern