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Not guilty! Sandiganbayan acquits Revilla

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By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN

The Sandiganbayan Friday acquitted former Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. of plunder in connection with the multi-billion pork barrel scam.

In the decision of the anti-graft court’s special division on five, government prosecutors from the Office of the Ombudsman failed to to prove Revilla’s “guilt beyond reasonable doubt.”

The decision came few days after the Sandiganbayan First Division reached an impasse after one of its regular member has dissented on whether or nor not to convict the actor-turned politician.

The said impasse among regular members forced the First Division to create a special panel of five, adding two more members who were picked via draw lots.

Among those who voted for Revilla’s acquittal were Associate Justices Geraldine Fatih Econg, Edgardo Caldona, and Georgina Dumpit-Hidalgo.

Those who voted for Revilla’s conviction were First Division chair Associate Justice Efren dela Cruz and Associate Justice Ma. Theresa Dolores Gomez-Estoesta.

The former senator was arrested and detained since June 2014 over to his alleged involvement in the Pork Barrel scam.

The senator allegedly pocketed P224-million worth of kickbacks by channeling his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allocations to the bogus non-government organizations controlled by businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles, the alleged mastermind of the Pork Barrel scam.

Meanwhile the anti-graft has convicted Napoles and Revilla’s former chief-of-staff, Richard Cambe and were both sentenced to Reclusion Perpetua—40 years imprisonment.