Will Drilon, Abad, Roxas be defense witnesses for Revilla in PDAF graft cases?
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr told the Sandiganbayan he is eyeing at least 34 individuals who can take the witness stand as part of his defense.
Among his colleagues, the lawmaker said he will present Senate President Franklin Drilon, who was former chair of the Senate Finance Committee from 2006 to 2010, and Senator Juan Ponce Enrile who was Senate President over the same period. He likewise named current Budget Secretary Florencio "Butch" Abad as possible witness who would be summoned.
Revilla faces 16 counts of graft filed against him by the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel scam. This involved the alleged diversion of multi-million-peso public funds into non-existent non-governmental organizations controlled by businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles.
Besides his colleagues in the Senate, Revilla – in his 66-page pre-trial brief – also listed cabinet officials of the Arroyo and Aquino administrations, bank officials, and 4 PDAF scam whistleblowers as among those whose testimonies will be offered by his legal team to refute charges against him.
Prosecutors accused Revilla of defrauding the government of P517 million involving 16 transactions.
Revilla has been detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame for the past 14 months, having been accused of plunder, a typically non-bailable offense.
Revilla's lawyers likewise named as possible witness Camarines Sur Representative Rolando Andaya Jr, who served as Department of Budget and Management secretary from 2006 to 2010.
Interior Secretary Manuel "Mar" Roxas II, former Commission on Audit chairperson Ma. Gracia Pulido-Tan, Revilla's former staff and co-accused Richard Cambe, Napoles, and state witnesses Benhur Luy, Marina Sula, Merlina Suñas, and Ruby Tuason were also listed.
Revilla also indicated he was willing to take the witness stand and testify in his own defense if his lawyers deem it necessary.
Revilla also wants Luy to admit he never handed any money to him in person and that Luy had altered the contents of his external hard drive after the drive was turned over to the National Bureau of Investigation.
The hard drive supposedly contains files of transactions, names, amounts and dates when payoffs involving the PDAF of lawmakers were made.
Revilla also pointed out that Napoles never issued any check of any amount to him and that no fund transfers or any similar bank transactions were made by Napoles to his account.
Revilla's lawyers said they intend to disprove Revilla affixed his signature to any project proposal, accomplishment reports, list of beneficiaries, or certificates of acceptance related to his PDAF-funded projects. – Rappler.com