MANILA, Philippines – Lawyers for government and Senator Ramon Revilla Jr and his co-accused in the pork barrel scam case will hold their first preliminary conference on Thursday, July 3.
Both sides will sit down with the clerk of court of the Sandiganbayan’s first division to discuss what evidence they will each be presenting when the trial starts.
Revilla is facing plunder and graft charges for allegedly receiving P224.5 million ($5.15 million)* in kickbacks when he had his discretionary Priority Development Assistance Fund channeled to fake non-governmental organizations.
His co-accused in the cases are Janet Lim Napoles, the alleged mastermind of the scam and who controlled the fake NGOs, his former staff Richard Cambe, and private individuals Ronald John Lim and John Raymund de Asis.
Cambe, like Revilla, is detained in Camp Crame, while Lim and De Asis remain at large.
“It is not an adversarial process,” said Sandiganbayan spokesperson Renato Bocar. The prosecution and the defense will only submit proposals for stipulation of facts, identification of documentary evidence, and lists of potential witnesses.
“Both sides will simply identify issues and testimonial and documentary evidence that they think will help their case. It is to prevent unnecessary disagreements later on for a smoother trial,” Bocar said.
After the Thursday meeting, there will be two more preliminary conferences between the parties, on July 4 and 7, before the pre-trial on July 9.
During the preliminary conference, the defendants can also offer terms for plea bargaining.
On July 10, bail hearings will start, with 3 whistleblowers, who linked Revilla to Napoles, taking the witness stand. They are Napoles’ former employees Benhur Luy, Merlina Suñas, and Marina Sula. – Rappler.com
*(US$1 = P43.63)