MANILA (Mabuhay) – The pretrial conference for Sen. Ramon Bong Revilla Jr.’s plunder and graft cases was canceled after his lawyers contested the fact that the public prosecutor failed to finish marking the documentary evidence against him.
“Pina-postpone namin ‘yung pretrial para magkaroon ng time para mag-continue ng marking ng exhibits ‘yung both parties. Kaya na reset ‘yung pretrial to August 27,” Atty. Joel Bodegon, Revilla’s lawyer, told reporters after the hearing.
The pretrial hearing was canceled after the prosecution questioned exhibits E, F, G and H proposed by the prosecution. According to Bodegon, the prosecution was remiss in providing descriptions for alleged documents that will prove Revilla’s ill-gotten wealth despite not being in possession of the said documents.
“It’s surprising that the prosecution is claiming na wala pa silang copies of the documents but they have descriptions,” Bodegon said during the hearing.
But the public prosecutor argued that the evidence is merely part of the report of the Ombudsman and is therefore being processed.
According to the Rules of Court, the pretrial is a mandatory part of the trial that opens up the possibility of an amicable settlement or of a submission to alternative modes of dispute resolution and the simplification of the issues of the case.
It is also during the pretrial that the number of witnesses is agreed upon, according to the Rules of Court. The evidence agreed upon by both parties in the pretrial will be the evidence used during the case proper.
Meanwhile, during the hearing, Bodegon and Atty. Remigio Michael Ancheta, lawyer of Revilla’s staff Richard Cambe who is the senator’s co-accused in his plunder case, called on the justices of the First Division to immediately grant bail to Revilla and Cambe since the prosecution allegedly failed to establish that plunder occurred.
“These [missing documents] are a clear admission na the element of plunder was never established during the preliminary conference,” Ancheta said.
Revilla is facing one count of plunder and 16 counts of graft for the P10-B pork barrel scam.
He and his co-accused allegedly received P224.5 million in kickbacks from 2006 to 2010 for funding the ghost projects of nongovernment organizations put up by trader Janet Lim-Napoles.
The anti-graft court however said that the bail hearing will proceed tomorrow, July 10.
Meanwhile, Revilla, who was present during the pretrial, was confident that the hiccup in the proceedings will be resolved, and that he will be acquitted.
“In God’s time, makakalaya tayo,” he said after leaving the courtroom. (MNS)