MANILA, Philippines – The 1st division of the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan on Thursday, June 26, entered a “not guilty” plea for Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr on charges of plunder.
Co-accused Janet Napoles and Richard Cambe pleaded not guilty.
Plunder is a criminal offense committed by a public official, whether alone or in connivance with other persons, involving the accumulation of ill-gotten wealth amounting to at least P50 million. It is punishable by reclusion perpetua (or life imprisonment) to death. Any person who connived with any public official, contributing to the crime of plunder may also be punished for the same offense, Republic Act 7080 says.
Revilla is said to have collected the biggest amount of commissions amounting to P224 million, followed by co-accused Senator Jinggoy Estrada with P183 million, and Senator Juan Ponce Enrile with P172 million.
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According to the Office of the Ombudsman, Revilla got the biggest amount of kickbacks from an elaborate scheme involving the diversion of lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to non-existent or unfinished development projects of fake non-governmental organizations, many of which were linked to Janet Napoles. (READ: 3 PH senators charged with plunder over PDAF scam)
Revilla appeared before the Sandiganbayan’s 1st division clad in a formal barong. The 1st division is chaired by Justice Efren N. dela Cruz with members Rodolfo A. Ponferrada and Rafael R. Lagos. He was not handcuffed and not clad in detainee uniform since, according to police authorities, there was “no threat of flight.” – Rappler.com
Editor’s Note: In an earlier version of this story we said Revilla pleaded not guilty. It was the court that entered a not guilty plea on his behalf and we have corrected the story.
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