Revilla to court: Suspension meant to 'harass' me

MANILA, Philippines – Detained Senator Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr told the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan on Monday, August 18, that the 90-day suspension order against him "serve no useful purpose but to harass him."

In a motion for reconsideration, Revilla said the 90-day suspension ordered by the court "deprives the Filipino people of their representation in Senate." He appealed to the court to reconsider its stance.

"The suspension of Senator Revilla from office will serve no useful purpose but to harass him and unduly put to waste the millions of votes cast in his favor during the last senatorial elections," his motion read. 

Revilla cited the 19,513,521 votes he garnered in the 2010 polls. "Such magnitude of trust and confidence from the electorate cannot be conveniently ignored," his motion further read.

In issuing the suspension order, the Sandiganbayan's 1st division considered the "mandatory tenor" of the plunder law or Republic Act 7080. (READ: Court orders Revilla's 90-day suspension)

Section 5 of the said law states: "Any public officer against whom any criminal prosecution under a valid information under this Act in whatever stage of execution and mode of participation, is pending in court, shall be suspended from office." 

But Revilla argued that the validity of the charge sheet against him is still in question, as it is exactly the subject of his petitions pending before the Supreme Court.

He added that it is also the subject of his unresolved bid before the Sandiganbayan to reverse its judicial determination of probable cause against him. 

Revilla is charged with plunder and 16 counts of graft for allegedly financially gaining from and knowingly allowing the diversion of his multi-million-peso Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to ghost projects of dubious non-governmental organizations.

Purpose of suspension satisfied

Public officers are suspended pending their trial not as a form of punishment, since they have yet to be convicted.

The suspension is meant to disable them from compromising the integrity of the prosecution by using their positions to influence the trial, intimidate witnesses, and commit other forms of malfeasance.

Revilla argued that the "purposes sought to be attained" through his suspension are already achieved, considering he is currently detained at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center in Camp Crame.

"While under detention and close watch, it is unimaginable as it is impossible how Senator Revilla would still be able to intimidate or influence possible witnesses against him or to tamper with documentary evidence in his office," his motion further read.

He added that the evidence against him in his current cases before the Sandiganbayan were gathered while he was still holding office. Even then, he said he did not prevent or interfere with the investigation. – Rappler.com