Sandiganbayan OKs pause of Bong Revilla plunder trial until February 15
MANILA, Philippines – The anti-graft court Sandiganbayan on Thursday, January 25, partially granted the motion of former senator Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr to pause his plunder trial in connection with the pork barrel scam, until the Supreme Court resolves his petition.
But contrary to Revilla's wish to suspend the plunder trial indefinitely until the SC resolves his petition, the Sandiganbayan is only giving him until February 15.
First Division Chairman Associate Justice Efren Dela Cruz announced the decision in an open court hearing on Thursday.
This means that if the Supreme Court does not issue a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) on or before February 15, trial will have to continue.
It's the defense's turn to present their evidence, after the First Division denied their appeal for an instant dismissal through a motion for leave to file a demurrer of evidence.
"I am an optimist and I hope the SC will act on our prayers for the issuance of a TRO as much as possible," said Estelito Mendoza, Revilla's lead counsel.
Mendoza claims the SC en banc is reviewing the petition.
"Based on information, the case is being considered by the en banc, that means it would take a little more time than the division case," he said.
In an en banc setting, 15 justices would vote. If it's handled by a division, only 5 justices would vote where a majority of 3 is needed to win.
Revilla filed a petition for certiorari before the SC, with prayers for an injunction, bail and a setting of oral arguments.
He is asking the SC to stop the proceedings at the Sandiganbayan for violation of his fundamental human rights.
Of the 3 senators charged of plunder for allegedly earning kickbacks from the pork barrel scam, only Revilla remains in jail. – Rappler.com