MANILA, May 21 (Mabuhay)– Senator Ramon Bong Revilla Jr., detained in connection with the pork barrel scam, will be staying at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame while his plunder and graft cases are pending with the Sandiganbayan.
This was after the anti-graft court’s First Division denied with finality the prosecution’s motion for reconsideration seeking the transfer of Revilla and his former aide Richard Cambe to an ordinary jail facility in Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig “for lack of merit.”
“The prosecution’s motion for reconsideration is bereft of merit. The Court finds no cogent reasons to justify a reversal of the challenged resolution,” the First Division said in its nine-page resolution issued Thursday.
In affirming its earlier ruling promulgated on June 20 last year, the First Division maintained that the PNP Custodial Center is the best place to secure Revilla, considering its proximity to the Sandiganbayan as well as the Custodial Center’s capacity to secure high-profile detainees.
“With these factors, the Court considerably viewed that the PNP Custodial Center would be able to secure the accused and ensure their attendance at the trial, at a reasonable cost to the government,” the First Division said.
The court did not give merit on the prosecution’s argument that the officials of the PNP Custodial Center are giving Revilla special privileges.
The prosecution alleged that last February 14, Revilla was allowed by Custodial Center officials to go to the PNP General Hospital, also located in Camp Crame, to attend the 91st birthday party of Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile, who is on hospital arrest in connection with the same alleged scam.
Revilla had repeatedly denied the allegation, though he admitted that he was rushed to the PNP GH that day due to hypertension.
However, the Sandiganbayan said it “does not consider sufficient the reported unauthorized visit of accused Revilla to the hospital room of Senator Enrile on February 14, 2015 to justify his transfer to Camp Bagong Diwa.”
“Afterall, the court in its April 15, 2015 resolution has already admonished all the concerned PNP officers and personnel in charge with the detention of accused Revilla to observe strictly the court’s June 20, 2014 order not to allow the accused to be moved, removed or relocate until further orders from the Court,” the First Division added.
In its April 15 resolution, the First Division warned the PNP Custodial Center and PNPGH officers that repetition of a similar incident in the future “will be dealt with more severely.”
The court said it also gave due consideration on the assurance given by PNP officer-in-charge Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina that the PNP can still “strictly secure” Revilla and Cambe despite the February 14 incident
The court also dismissed the prosecution’s argument that Republic Act 6975 (An Act Establishing the Philippine National Police) limited the detention of the accused to BJMP controlled and supervised facilities.
“Likewise, RA 6975 hardly supports the prosecution’s contention that prisoners undergoing trial, including the accused here should only be detained in jail…there is nothing in the said law which mandates whether expressly or by implication that a detention prisoner shall only be detained in a jail that is under the supervision and control of the BJMP,” the First Division said.
“Wherefore, in light of the foregoing, the prosecution’s motion for reconsideration dated September 10, 2014, is hereby DENIED for lack of merit,” the ruling concluded.
Revilla is facing one count of plunder and 16 counts of graft for allegedly pocketing P224.5 million worth of kickbacks by allocating portions of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), commonly known as pork barrel, from 2006 to 2010 to the fake foundations allegedly owned by businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, the scam’s alleged mastermind.(MNS)