FORMER Senator Ramon Revilla Jr. will be home for Christmas, just as his wife Bacoor Mayor Lani Mercado had expected.
At yesterday’s much-awaited promulgation, the Sandiganbayan Special First Division announced its ruling clearing Revilla of plunder in connection with the reported pork barrel fund scam.
However, his co-accused businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles and his former chief-of-staff Richard Cambe were found guilty of plunder and were sentenced to life imprisonment.
“For failure of the prosecution to establish beyond reasonable doubt that accused Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. received, directly or indirectly the rebates, commission and kickbacks from his PDAF, the court cannot hold him liable for the crime of plunder. Accordingly, he is acquitted,” the ruling said.
The court ordered the release of Revilla from detention but he has to post bail for his multiple graft charges.
Napoles and Cambe were ordered to return P124 million to the government.
Immediately after his acquittal, Revilla posted P480,000 in bail bond for his temporary freedom on his graft case.
"Of course because I know that I’m not guilty. Noon ko pa sinasabi na wala akong kasalanan," Revilla said in an interview.
The Sandiganbayan First Division had to convene into a special division of five to acquit Revilla because the three regular members were unable to come up with a unanimous decision.
Revilla was accused of amassing P224 million worth of commission from the projects funded by Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
He has been detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame since June 20, 2014.
Ombudsman Samuel Martires had directed his prosecutors not to appeal a decision of acquittal, making the ruling final and executory.
Revilla said he intends to spend the next few days with his family and is excited to be reunited with them this Christmas.
Home for Christmas
Revilla’s family led by Mayor Mercardo said they were very excited to finally go home with the former senator.
“Uuwi na kami ni Papa. Kumpleto na ulit ang pamilya namin sa aming bahay,” his son, Cavite Vice Governor Jolo Revilla, said.
The tightly-secured Camp Crame jail has been Revilla’s temporary home for the past four years. His co-accused former Sen. Jinggoy Estrada and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile were also detained in the same area until they were allowed to post bail.
Last June 21, officers from the PNP Headquarters Support Service confiscated Revilla’s cellphone hours after the latter posted a selfie from inside his detention center to commemorate his 4th year in prison.
At around 12:13 p.m. of June 21, Revilla posted a selfie accompanied by a lengthy caption about his 4th year in prison. In his post, the former senator noted that he was “tired” of being detained over charges which he had denied repeatedly.
“Dalangin ko pa rin ang katarungan. Dasal ko pa rin na mangibabaw na ang katotohanan” he said then.
With Alfred Dalizon