Sandiganbayan orders Sen. Revilla’s 90-day preventive suspension from public office

By Sammy F. Martin

MANILA, Aug. 4 (PNA) — The Sandiganbayan ordered on Monday a 90-day preventive suspension of Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. from public office in connection with the plunder and graft charges filed against him in relation to the alleged misuse of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

Also ordered suspended by the anti-graft court was lawyer Richard Cambe, Revilla’s former senior political officer who is holding a Director III position.

In a two-page resolution signed by Sandiganbayan First Division chairman Associate Justice Efren dela Cruz and Justices Rodolfo Ponferrada and Rafael Lagos, the court granted the prosecution’s “Motion to Suspend Accused Pendiente Lite” against Revilla and Cambe.

“As prayed for, accused Revilla and Cambe are hereby suspended from their respective positions as Senator and Director III of the Office of Senator Revilla and from any other public positions they may now or hereafter be holding, effective for ninety (90) days from notice,” the resolution read.

Revilla is the third senator charged with plunder and graft ordered to be suspended by the Sandiganbayan. The two others are Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile.

The prosecution underscored the need for the Sandiganbayan to suspend Revilla and Cambe because their stay in office “may frustrate the prosecution of the crime, if not prejudice the case filed against them.”

“To prevent the accused from committing further acts of malfeasance, tamper with documentary evidence and intimidate or influence witnesses in the case, it is necessary that the accused be suspended from office while the case is pending in court,” the motion read.

Section 5 of the Plunder Law states that “Any public officer against whom any criminal prosecution under a valid information under this Act, in whatever stage of execution, is pending in court shall be suspended.”

Revilla is facing a plunder case and 16 counts of violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act for allegedly amassing P242 million in commissions and kickbacks after channeling his PDAF allocation to the bogus non-government organizations (NGO) owned by businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles, the suspected mastermind of the “pork barrel” scam.

The resolution also stated that it is up to Senate President Franklin Drilon on how to deal with the vacancy left by Revilla.

“The President of the Senate shall implement this order once he has been notified of the finality thereof,” the resolution stated.

Whistle-blower Benhur Luy, during his testimony before the First Division last Friday, claimed that Revilla got P90 million in kickbacks after allotting P180 million of his PDAF allocations to JLN Corporation and five other NGOs of Napoles from 2006 to 2010.

He noted that Revilla got 50 percent of all funds that he allocated for “ghost” transactions from the Napoles-controlled foundations. (PNA)