MANILA (Mabuhay) – State lawyers handling the case of detained Senator Ramon Bong Revilla Jr. on Thursday asked the Sandiganbayan to reject Revilla’ request to attend the high school graduation of his daughter, saying to do so is tantamount to special treatment.
“If this Honorable Court accedes to Revilla’s request, it will grant him a special privilege that is not accorded to an ordinary prisoner and unduly create an impression to the public that accused Revilla, being a high-ranking public official, is a favoured detainee,” prosecutors said in a four-page opposition.
Revilla, detained in connection with the alleged pork barrel scam, has asked the court to allow him temporary liberty on March 28 to attend his daughter’s high school graduation.
Revilla is currently detained at the PNP Custodial Center in Camp Crame over allegations that he participated in the multi-billion peso pork barrel scam, which saw public funds diverted to bogus non-government organizations owned by alleged scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles.
In his motion, Revilla said his daughter will receive three awards, and that as a father, he would like to be present for the occasion.
But in their opposition, the prosecution expressed skepticism that Revilla’s daughter was indeed graduating, noting that he did not attach proof that his daughter is a candidate for graduation.
“He should have, at the very least, substantiated his claim with proof that his daughter Loudette is indeed one of the candidates for graduation from De La Salle Zobel,” the prosecution said.
“Inasmuch as accused Revilla has not provided any basis to support his assertion, which claims remain unsubstantiated and self serving, this Honorable Court is left with nothing for the purpose of evaluating the merits of the instant motion,” it added.
When the matter was discussed in open court, however, Revilla’s lawyers agreed to submit documents that would prove Loudette is indeed graduating with honors.
But the prosecution had other objections. In its motion, it said since Revilla’s application for bail was earlier denied by the Sandiganbayan First Division, it should naturally disallow the request for temporary furlough as well, since he might escape from detention.
“Revilla is herein charged with the grave offence of Plunder, and his petition for bail has already been denied. Considering the gravity of the offense charged against him, and the current stage of the proceedings herein, not to mention the magnitude of the amount involved, the Honorable Court must deny the instant motion so as not to afford accused Revilla the opportunity, however remote, to escape from incarceration,” government lawyers said.
“As a detention prisoner, accused Revilla’s movement should be restricted,” they added.
Finally, the prosecution cautioned the anti-graft court that if it allows Revilla’s request, they could also receive similar backlash as the Fifth Division, which allowed detained Sen. Jinggoy Estrada to attend his son’s graduation two weeks ago.
“It is precisely for this reason [of special treatment] that the Fifth Division of this Honorable Court earned the ire of the public when it granted a similar motion filed by Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, and allowed the latter to attend the graduation ceremonies of his son, Julian Emilio Estrada,” the prosecution said.
Estrada, son of former President and incumbent Manila mayor Joseph Estrada, is also detained at the PNP Custodial Center over the same scam. (MNS)