MANILA, Philippines – Former president Benigno Aquino III said on Friday, December 7, that he was “bewildered” by the Sandiganbayan's decision to acquit former senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr of plunder even as the court found guilty his two co-accused.
Aquino made the statement in a text reply to Rappler, when asked to comment on the decision of the anti-graft court's special first division – the first verdict in relation to the pork barrel scam that his administration pursued.
“The media reports that his co-accused were found guilty. That fact proves a crime was committed. I am sure that if one were to study the decision once released, one would be confused and bewildered instead of enlightened,” Aquino said.
While the court acquitted Revilla, it found his co-accused former Revilla staff Richard Cambe and businesswoman Janet Napoles guilty of plunder.
Asked to comment on the fact that all 3 former senators who were arrested and detained over the pork barrel scam were now out of jail, Aquino said, “I am glad it is not my job to explain the unexplainable.”
The other two senators charged of plunder over the scam – Juan Ponce Enrile and JInggoy Estrada – are out on bail.
Senator Francis Pangilinan, Aquino’s party mate at the Liberal Party, expressed the same sentiment.
“Paano naging guilty ang nanuhol pero not guilty ang sinuhulan? Mahirap unawain ang naging pasya (How can those who bribed are guilty but the bribe-taker is not guilty? It’s difficult to understand the decision),” he said.
The verdict on the case is first-ever decision in what is arguably the biggest corruption scandal to hit Philippine politics in recent history. During the previous administration, auditors and investigators uncovered a long-running, elaborate scam that used lawmakers' discretionary funds for projects which turned out to be fake or non-existent.
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