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Revilla asks SC to stop his pork scam plunder trial at Sandiganbayan

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Former Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. filed a petition before the Supreme Court (SC) seeking to stop the proceedings at the Sandiganbayan which he claimed as a violation of his rights as an accused in the P224.5-million plunder and graft cases filed against him for alleged misuse of his Priority Development Assistance Fund or pork barrel.

In a 62-page petition for certiorari filed through his counsel, former Solicitor General Estelito Mendoza, Revilla said his rights to due process, to be presumed innocent, to be informed of the nature and cause of accusation against him and to a fair trial had been violated when his motion for leave to file demurrer to evidence as well as his motion to quash and motions for reconsideration had been dismissed by the anti-graft court.

For issuing the said resolutions, the petitioner accused the Sandiganbayan of failure to perform its constitutional duty to enforce his rights that resulted to his continued detention in the past four years.

Revilla is principally questioning the Sandiganbayan’s ruling issued on Dec. 7, 2017 denying his motion to file a demurrer to evidence which would have sought the dismissal of his plunder case in connection with the multibillion-peso pork barrel scam as well as its Dec. 28, 2017 resolution denying his motion for reconsideration.

“The Sandiganbayan order of December 7, 2017, principally challenged in the instant petition, in ruling that there is a need for the accused to present their evidence, implicitly, by way of defense or more directly put, to controvert the charge in the information and the evidence offered by the prosecution, violates petitioner’s right to ‘due process’ and disregards that petitioner is ‘presumed innocent’ even at this stage of proceedings,” Revilla argued.

With the denial of his motions, the Sandiganbayan has set the reception of evidence for the accused on January 25, 30; February 1, 6, 13, 15, 20, 22, 27 and March 6 and 8. Revilla argued that the proceedings before the Sandiganbayan violated his constitutional right to due process, to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusations against him, to have an impartial trial and to meet the witnesses face to face.

The anti-graft court, in said decision, instead directed the senator to submit his evidence that would disprove the allegations against him.

While the case is pending with the Supreme Court, Revilla also asked the high court to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) to enjoin the Sandiganbayan from conducting proceedings on the case for the purpose of receiving his evidence against the case which will start on Jan. 25, 2018.

He also sought his provisional release from jail pending the High Court’s action on his petition.

The former senator also urged the high court to hold an oral argument on the matter. Revilla is currently detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City.

In August 2015, the SC granted the petition for bail of former senator Juan Ponce Enrile in the same plunder case with Janet Lim Napoles before the Sandiganbayan due to his “advanced age and poor health.”

The two other former senators indicted with Napoles in separate plunder cases before the anti-graft court – Jinggoy Estrada and Revilla — also filed bail petitions.

The Sandiganbayan special fifth division granted Estrada’s plea last September. (PNA)