MANILA (Mabuhay) – With his impending arrest, beleaguered Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. on Thursday asked the Supreme Court for the third time to stop the Office of the Ombudsman and the Sandiganbayan from prosecuting him in connection with his alleged involvement in the P10-billion pork barrel scam that has rocked the country since last year.
In his third petition for certiorari before the high tribunal, Revilla said the Ombudsman committed grave abuse of discretion and violated his right to due process when it issued a resolution last March 28 finding probable cause to charge him with plunder along with fellow Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada.
He said that the Ombudsman committed the same violation when it dismissed his motion for reconsideration last June 4.
Revilla also challenged the basis of the Ombudsman’s finding of probable cause against him saying that nowhere in its resolution has the anti-graft agency showed that he stole P50 million of government funds, the amount that qualifies him for the charge of plunder.
“The Ombudsman’s resolution failed to present any proof that Senator Revilla has received even a single centavo as kickback from his pork barrel allocation,” the 81-page motion said.
This, he added, is more than enough reason for the SC to stop the Ombudsman.
He explained that the High Court needs to intervene as he is under threat of being arrested and detained without bail as plunder is a non-bailable offense.
Further, the senator said, if he is detained based on the Ombudsman’s findings, he would not be able to perform his duties as senator for all the time he was provisionally detained.
In his first motion, Revilla questioned the finding of judicial determination of probable cause. In his second motion, he asked that the proceedings against him be suspended pending the result of the civil case he filed before the Bacoor City Regional Trial Court against pork barrel scam whistleblower Benhur Luy.
Earlier, Revilla said prosecutors have failed to establish or present evidence showing that he is part of a conspiracy to commit the crime and that the testimonial evidence against him are “mere hearsay” and should not be admitted in court.
He added that none of the whistleblowers, Luy included, have testified that they saw him receiving kickbacks from alleged pork barrel scam architect Janet Lim Napoles.
“There is absolutely nothing in the records of this case to show directly and credibly linked Senator Revilla to the alleged scam,” the motion said.
Revilla allegedly pocketed more than P224 million in kickbacks from the scam.
Last Friday, the Sandiganbayan raffled off the pork barrel scam cases against Revilla, Enrile, Estrada, Napoles, and other respondents.
It was followed days later by the issuance of the hold-departure order to prevent them from leaving the country, a prelude many legal experts said to the issuance of a warrant for their arrest.
Revilla has insisted in his innocence and said the charges were part of an effort of the administration to do away with the opposition before the 2016 elections. (MNS)