Morales in mop-up ops; After plunder raps, pork scam accused face graft charges

By PETER TABINGO 
MALAYA

Ramon-Revilla-Jr-with-Jinggoy-and-EnrileTHE Office of the Ombudsman yesterday filed multiple counts of graft against Senators Ponce Enrile, Ramon “Bong” Revilla and Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada together with businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles, officials of government firms, and private persons before the Sandiganbayan.

The charges filed at the end of office hours yesterday were in connection with alleged fraudulent transactions involving a total of P1.14 billion Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) or “pork barrel” funds from 2004 to 2010.

The graft cases came three days after the filing of three plunder charges against Napoles, alleged mastermind of the pork barrel scam, also before the Sandiganbayan. Named co-accused with one plunder case each were Enrile, Revilla, and Estrada.

Napoles was charged with 42 counts with a recommended bail of P30,000 for each case, or a total of P1.26 million.

But she will remain in detention even if she posts bail because of a non-bailable criminal charge (serious illegal detention) filed by her former staff now whistleblower Benhur Luy, which is now pending before the Makati Regional Trial Court.

Also facing 42 counts of graft is Budget Undersecretary Mario Relampagos for allegedly facilitating the release of the funds.

Enrile is facing 15 graft charges along with his former chief of staff Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes for allegedly mishandling pork barrel funds totaling P345 million released by the Department of Budget and Management. Among those named co-accused in these cases were Napoles’ daughter Jo Christine and son James Christopher.

Revilla and his chief of staff Richard Cambe were named in 16 counts over alleged irregularities in the disbursement of the lawmaker’s P517 million PDAF.

Estrada and his deputy chief of staff Pauline Therese Mary Labayen were indicted in 11 graft charges for questioned transactions on his PDAF worth P278 million.

Also named in the multiple graft charges were Alan Javellana, former president of the National Agribusiness Corporation (Nabcor), and Dennis Cunanan and Antonio Ortiz, former heads of the Technology Resource Center.

Court informants said the plunder and graft charges relative to the PDAF scam will be raffled to different Sandiganbayan divisions this Friday, based on the regular schedule of the graft court.

Under the rules, prosecutors may file a motion for the consolidation of all cases under one division if they can prove that there is commonality of evidence, transactions and circumstances.

In a privilege speech that concluded with a music video, Revilla appealed to President Aquino to unite the country and lead it “not with hatred but with love.”

Revilla told Aquino it is not good to have a legacy of sending political oppositors to jail.

“Tama na po ang awayan. Tama na ang pagbebengga. Ang ibang kulay ng bandila dapat sumagisag ng pagkakaisa. Adhikain ko wala nang dilaw, orange, asul, berde, pula. Iisa lang ang dugong nananalaytay sa ugat: dugong Pilipino. Isang dugo, isang diwa!” said Revilla, an actor.

Revilla, who has cried trial by publicity, appealed to media’s “commitment to responsibility and sensitivities.”

“Marami nang nasasaktan dahil sa pagbato ng putik na parang arkitran. ‘Pag nabanggit ka, tapos ka! Wasak ka!” he said.

He bade farewell to his colleagues in the music video where he also thanked friends.

In the video, he sang, “Salamat mga kaibigan, kailanman ‘di malilimutan. Kung ito man ang kapalaran, nananalig pa rin sa katotohanan.”

Revilla also pulled out a list of persons he thanked.

He first thanked God who, he said, would not give him challenges ge would be able to surmount.

Revilla then honored family members and friends, who were at the Senate gallery, including wife Cavite Rep. Lani Mercado-Revilla, son Vice Gov. Jolo Revilla, brother Strike Revilla who is mayor of Bacoor in Cavite, and the senator’s close friend and partymate, Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez.

The senator then named his colleagues one by one to thank and praise them.

To Blue Ribbon committee chairman Sen. Teofisto “TG” Guingona III: “Kaibigan pa rin kita. Ikaw ang number one. Lead the Blue Ribbon committee in fulfilling its true mandate.”

The emotional speech was interrupted by fits of laughter when Revilla addressed Senators Lito Lapid and JV Ejercito, half-brother of Senator Estrada.

To his fellow actor, he said of Lapid, “Ikaw ang Leon Guerrero ng masa.”

To Ejercito, he said, “I only have one request: reconcile with your brother!”

Revilla was both humorous and emotional when he addressed his co-accused.

He told Estrada, “Kosa! Magkakasama pa tayo. ‘Di ito ang katapusan natin. God is preparing us for something better.”

He had praises for the 90-year-old Enrile. “Manong, I can only wish I live a full life like yours. You are one of the greatest leaders of this country. Your brilliance, experience were brought to this institution. You are undoubtedly the ultimate statesman.”

Almost in tears, Revilla also told his fans, “Di ako magsasawa kilalanin kayo na kayo ang dahilan bakit ako naging Bong Revilla.”

After delivering his speech, Revilla proceeded outside the Senate building where his supporters gathered to protest what they described as political persecution and harassment against him.

They were wearing red shirts and carrying placards that read “Politika vs Katotohanan,” “Itigil ang Panggigipit,” and “Sen. Bong biktima ng maruming politika.”

SOLID EVIDENCE

Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez said he has yet to see any solid evidence against Revilla, “especially the key component of plunder which says that the accused pocketed the money in question.”

He also the administration should see to it that cases will be filed also against allies.

“From the very beginning, we join the government in seeking justice behind the pork barrel scam. But it should not be selective prosecution where opposition personalities are being persecuted. Now that formal cases have been filed before the anti-graft court, the government should also work in the filing of cases against their allies,” he said.

Romualdez, president of Lakas-CMD and a staunch ally of former Gloria Arroyo, asked the public not to prejudge those accused, especially Revilla.

He said even President Aquino has said that those accused remain innocent unless proven guilty by the courts.

RECONSIDERATION

Napoles’ lawyer and spokesman, Bruce Rivera, said they would file a motion today seeking a reversal of the Ombudsman’s decision junking her plea for immunity from prosecution.

Rivera said they will also file a motion for judicial determination of probable cause before the Sandiganbayan questioning the basis of the plunder charges.

In an order released last week, the Ombudsman said Napoles’ request to become a state witness did not meet the criteria and that she appears to be among the “most guilty” despite her claims that she was a victim of the system. – With Wendell Vigilia, Raymond Africa and Ashzel Hachero

– See more at: http://www.malaya.com.ph/business-news/news/morales-mop-ops-after-plunder-raps-pork-scam-accused-face-graft-charges#sthash.QgwtjRSV.dpuf


3 Responses. Have your say.

  1. Bert says:

    Parusahan ang mga magnanakaw at mapagsamantala sa mga mahihirap at mababa ang pinag-aralan. Pero, kahit mahirap ang atin mga kababayan mayroon naman silang dangal at respeto sa marangal na alagad ng atin bansa.Subalit ang atin mga namumuno sa atin mga kababayan ay wala ng hiya saan mo iharap kahit sa mga atin bayan o sa mga dayuhan ikakahiya mo ang kanillang ugali na sakim sa kuarta at position na hindi namam ginagawa ang kanilang tungkulin pangmamayanan

    • Bobby Bagos says:

      Let’s all hope that the Sandiganbayan can make all these charges stick and get a conviction. During Revilla’s speech, he’s sounding like he’s being treated unfairly. If he is truly innocent then the burden is on him to prove the Sandiganbayan wrong, and he should really quit using God’s name in vain because all of them I’m quite certain never even thought of God when they’re stealing those millions.

  2. Bobby Bagos says:

    Just look at the way these clowns are behaving during Revilla’s speech, laughing and joking with one another, as if the nature of their crimes are nothing but a joke. I hope the Filipino people, if they’re truly concern about the future of our country, will think twice before siding with these thieves. These idiots will use their popularity to convince our kababayans that there’s no way in hell that they could’ve done those terrible things. Let’s all hope that our kababayans will not fall for their usual bullsh*t and put their thieving asses where they belong, inside Muntinglupa. But we shouldn’t count our blessings just yet, remember the Ampatuan massacre? It’s still in limbo, heck for all we know these guys may not even be in detention anymore.

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