Court to Revilla plunder case lawyers: Work overtime

MANILA, Philippines – Sandiganbayan justices obliged both the prosecution and defense teams in the plunder trial of detained former senator Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr to settle all their issues before March 30 so they can finally proceed to trial.

Trial has been reset for the third time already.

The hearing on Thursday, February 23, lasted only a few minutes as the anti-graft court's First Division told Revilla's camp they had just denied their motion to quash filed last February 6.

The motion was an effort of Revilla's reorganized team of lawyers to dismiss the plunder charges against him based on technicalities and wordings.

Revilla is accused of earning a total kickback of P224 million by funnelling his discretionary funds through bogus NGOs owned by alleged pork scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles. (READ: Revilla uses Enrile arguments to have plunder charges dropped)

Told of the court's denial, star defense lawyer Estelito Mendoza manifested they would file a motion for reconsideration to appeal the court's resolution.

The anti-graft court reset the trial to March 30, giving both the defense and prosecution teams more than a month to file their necessary comments.

Two preliminary conferences have been scheduled until then, which Associate Justice Geraldine Faith Econg said she would personally oversee.

"Be prepared to work overtime, and when I say overtime, overtime. I will help you thresh out issues so once and for all, this stage will be finished," Econg said during the hearing.

The court also directed Revilla's lawyers to personally deliver their pending motion for reconsideration to the prosecution team to avoid further delays.

Associate Justice Efren de la Cruz said that should the court deny Revilla's motion, "no further cancellations will be entertained."

"Gusto nating mapabilis ‘yung paglilitis sa kaso natin dahil habang nagtatagal tayo..Imagine two years 9 months na kong nakakulong na walang kasalanan, paano pagdating nung oras na lumabas na wala tayong kasalanan? Unfair naman sa 'kin 'yun di ba?" Revilla told reporters after the hearing.

(We want this trial to proceed at a faster rate because as this drags on.... Imagine I've been detained for 2 years and 9 months despite my innocence. How would it be if it turns out that I'm really innocent? Isn't that unfair to me?) – Rappler.com

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.

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