UPDATED: Sandiganbayan acquits Bong Revilla of plunder

Court finds Revilla’s former chief of staff Richard Cambe, Napoles guilty of the crime

(Eagle News) — The Sandiganbayan on Friday, Dec. 7, found former Senator Bong Revilla not guilty of plunder.

The first division said Revilla “cannot be held liable” for the crime which he was charged with several years ago.

“There was a split decision of the five (division) justices–three voted for (Revilla’s) acquittal for insufficiency of evidence, two for his conviction..By reason of that he was acquitted,” Ramon Esguerra, legal counsel of Revilla said.

Revilla’s former chief of staff, Richard Cambe, and alleged pork barrel scam queen Janet Lim Napoles, however, were found guilty of the plunder charges filed against them, and were sentenced to reclusion perpetua.

Stephen David, legal counsel of Napoles, said they would file a motion for reconsideration of the decision.

Esguerra said the anti-graft court ordered Revilla, Napoles and Cambe to return over P100 million, but this will be subject to a motion for reconsideration on the part of Revilla.

Esguerra said Revilla cannot be held civilly liable because he was held not criminally liable in the first place.

“Ngayon palang iaayos na namin piyansa niya para sa graft cases. We will do that today so we can get out of detention this afternoon,” Esguerra said.

The plunder charges stem from Revilla’s alleged pocketing of over P200 million in Priority Development Assistance Funds through the fake non-government organizations set up by Napoles.

Revilla is facing a separate graft case, which will resume trial on Jan. 10, 2019.

Revilla’s lawyers had asked the anti-graft court to reset the graft trial, originally scheduled for Dec. 6, to allow the former senator to prepare for the court’s promulgation in his plunder case.

The former senator is again running for a Senate seat in the 2019 elections.