Revilla in plunder trial: Examine my earnings from films, TV shows
MANILA, Philippines – The camp of former senator Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr on Thursday, June 29, raised before the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan the relevance of his income from his films and television shows as he was tried for plunder in connection with the pork barrel scam.
During the second day of Revilla's trial on Thursday, the prosecution presented Junilyn Pagunsan from the field investigating office (FIO) of the Office of the Ombudsman, to re-establish facts and evidence gathered at their level of investigation.
In a brief cross-examination, Revilla's counsel, Ramon Esguerra, asked Pagunsan: "You did not investigate movies and television series, so you did not bother to find out whether he earned anything from the production of movies and series?"
Pagunsan replied: "It was not part of our investigation."
In an interview with reporters after the hearing, Revilla highlighted this argument.
"Ang pinoint lang ng ating lawyer doon, kung na-imbestigahan ba nila kung ilang mga pelikula nagawa ko, production outfit sa telebisyon na nagawa ko, series like Indio at Idol ko si Kap. Para mas klaro, kung kaya ko bang kumita ng ganung amount," Revilla said.
(What our lawyer pointed out, if they investigated the movies I've done, my production outfit on television, my series like Indio and Idol ko si Kap. So it can be clearer whether I was capable of earning that amount.)
Revilla is accused of earning P224.5 million in kickbacks from alleged ghost projects funded by his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and funnelled through the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) owned by Janet Lim-Napoles. (READ: Ball starts rolling at last for PDAF scam plunder trials)
For lead prosecutor Joefferson Toribio, Revilla's defense was nothing new.
"Remember the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) conducted the investigation on that. Of course, the FIO will not already dwell on that, because we already presented the AMLC investigator and there was already a report by the AMLC on those issues," Toribio said.
Toribio added, "As fas as the court is considered, one of the evidence considered is the AMLC report, that there were unexplained amounts that entered the accounts of Revilla."
What Toribio was referring to is the 2014 testimony of AMLC lawyer Leigh Von Santos who said there were suspicious amounts in Revilla and his family members' bank accounts.
According to Santos, cash deposits worth P87 million were deposited to Revilla's bank accounts 30 days after the supposed kickbacks were delivered from Napoles to Revilla, as it appeared on the financial records provided to the court by star witness Benhur Luy.
Cut to the chase
Revilla's lead counsel, former solicitor general Estelito Mendoza. opted not to cross-examine the witness because for him, her testimonies are not relevant to prove the crime of plunder.
It led Mendoza to rant to the court to cut to the chase and "present witnesses on the core evidence so we can terminate this trial as soon as possible." (READ: Bong Revilla's biggest battle)
Thursday's hearing ended early with no afternoon schedule because the prosecution's other witnesses could not make it to court.
The witnesses were the intended beneficiaries of supposed ghost projects funded by Revilla's PDAF but the witnesses had to attend seminars, Toribio said.
The first witnesses were records officers from the Budget and Agriculture departments to testify on the existence of special allotment release orders (SAROs) pertaining to Revilla's PDAF.
"They keep on bringing that up but the court already ruled we can present these witnesses. We presented the core witnesses in the hearings on the petition for bail," Toribio said.
Revilla, who had just come out of confinement for hypertension, told reporters: "Nalulungkot ako dahil medyo matagal pa, pero wala tayong magagawa. Kailangan nating dumaan sa proseso."
(It saddens me that this will still take a long time, but I can't do anything. I have to go through the process.)
Revilla's confinement turned out not to have been properly sanctioned by the court, but Sandiganbayan First Division Chair Associate Justice Efren dela Cruz accepted a letter of explanation from Revilla's jail officer from the Philippine National Police (PNP) custodial center.
Revilla was visiting his ailing father at St Luke's Hospital Global – a furlough approved by the court – when his blood pressure shot up and he had to be confined.
PNP Custodial Center staff only sent the letter of explanation to the court on June 22, the same day that the information was offered at the hearing. It caught the justices off guard and prompted Associate Justice Geraldine Faith Econg to say, "That is highly irregular." – Rappler.com