MANILA (Mabuhay) – Malacañang on Thursday said the failed attempt by prosecutors from the Office of the Ombudsman to amend the information filed against Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. was not an indication the plunder and graft cases filed over the pork barrel scam are weak.
“The Department of Justice has done its part from the time they submitted their findings. The DOJ conducted a thorough investigation. They submitted the product of their case buildup to the Office of the Ombudsman and the Office of the Ombudsman conducted its own process,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said in a briefing aired over state-run Radyo ng Bayan.
“We believe the concerned agency of the government has already done what it should do. The DOJ has done its homework. They have spent enough time to examine the merit of the case that they have filed,” he added.
Despite the junking of the petition, Coloma said: “It is our view that in filing an amended information with the Sandiganbayan, the Office of the Special Prosecutor acted well within the rules of court that allow the prosecution to present its case in the manner it deems best consistent to its duty and mandate.”
At the arraignment of Revilla and his co-accused, including Janet Lim Napoles, who allegedly engineered the scam, the Sandiganbayan rejected the prosecution’s bid to strike out a phrase in the information saying Napoles misappropriated government funds for her personal gain, which would have shifted the onus of blame to Revilla and the other senators facing similar charges – Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile.
Both Estrada – who, like Revilla, has surrendered and is in detention – and Enrile have yet to be arraigned.
Observers say allowing the amended information could have paved the way for Napoles to be granted state witness status.
Revilla refused to enter a plea, prompting the Sandiganbayan to enter a “not guilty” plea on his behalf. Napoles pleaded not guilty. (MNS)