87 witnesses to appear in Revilla plunder trial
MANILA, Philippines – A total of 87 witnesses will be presented in court once the trial of the multi-million-peso plunder case against former senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr starts.
Linked to the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam, the witnesses to be presented by the prosecution number 25 – including PDAF scam whistleblowers Benhur Luy, Marina Sula, and Merlina Suñas; state auditors; officials of the Anti-Money Laundering Council; and forensics experts of the National Bureau of Investigation expected to authenticate signatures and electronic evidence.
The plunder case against Revilla involves his alleged misuse of P224.512 million in public funds.
The list of witnesses from the side of the prosecution could become longer if local officials from beneficiary areas of the former senator’s funded projects are included – “mayors, officials, and residents of local government units”.
On the other hand, the defense has listed 31 witnesses besides Revilla himself and alleged PDAF scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles. These include whistle-blowers Luy, Sula, and Suñas, former Commission on Audit chair Grace Pulido-Tan, former interior secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, former budget secretary Florencio Abad, and Rolando Andaya, former budget secretary under ex-president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Besides herself, Napoles has listed 13 witnesses for her defense. Part of her list are employee John Raymond de Asis and elder brother Ronald John Lim.
Another defendant, Richard Cambe, Revilla’s former staff and co-accused, listed 18 witnesses. These include the same 3 whistle-blowers, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, and himself.
The defense team of Revilla said they will disprove that the P224.5 million supposedly paid to Revilla or Cambe were public funds. As such, he cannot be charged with plunder.
The defense also disputed the admissibility of evidence pertaining to alleged “ghost projects” from funds supposedly misappropriated by Napoles. This is because the alleged offense of Revilla was limited only to his “endorsement, directly or through Cambe” of non-governmental organizations linked to Napoles.
Evidence of the ghost projects are thus irrelevant and immaterial to the plunder case against Revilla, the defense said. – Rappler.com