Bong needs to accept ruling, says Revilla lawyer
MANILA - Two of the three senators facing plunder charges before the Sandiganbayan over the multibillion-peso pork barrel scam feel "okay," their lawyers said on Friday.
Senator Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr.'s counsel, Atty. Joel Bodegon, told radio dzMM that his client is "okay but...a bit disappointed" over the recent development in the pork barrel scam case.
"He needs to accept the reality na ito'y naganap na," Bodegon said.
The Office of the Ombudsman on Friday afternoon formally filed before the Sandiganbayan plunder raps against Revilla, fellow senators Jinggoy Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile, and Janet Lim Napoles, the alleged mastermind of the scheme.
Also included in the charge sheet are Revilla's staff Richard Cambe, Estrada's former staff Pauline Labayen, Enrile's former chief of staff Jessica "Gigi" Reyes, Ronald John Lim, and John Raymund de Asis.
Their cases will be raffled off next week, after which the Sandiganbayan division which will handle the cases is expected to issue an arrest order for the respondents.
Bodegon reiterated that Revilla will not evade arrest, noting that if he really wants to escape, he could have chosen not to return to the country after his vacation in Israel last March.
"Kung wala siyang balak na harapin yan, sana hindi na siya umuwi," he said.
But the lawyer said they will file a motion for judicial determination of probable cause and deferment or suspension of proceedings before the Sandiganbayan by Monday.
He maintained that the Ombudsman committed grave violation of the senator's constitutional right when it refused to grant his request for copies of the counter-affidavits of the other respondents in the case.
Estrada, likewise, will file a similar motion before the Sandiganbayan next week, his lawyer Atty. Alex Abastillas said in a separate interview with dzMM.
Abastillas said they are not surprised by first, the denial of their motions for reconsideration, and now, the filing of charges before the Sandiganbayan.
"Okay naman po siya. I mean he's prepared for whatever will happen to him," she said.
"Siguro ma-surprise kami kung binaliktad [ng Ombudsman]," she added.
'DON'T PREJUDGE US'
Meanwhile, Revilla's counsel said they vehemently oppose the approval of the immunity for key whistleblower Benhur Luy, and other whistleblowers Marina Sula, Merlina Sunas, Mary Arlene Baltazar, and Simonette Briones.
Bodegon said Luy and the others should have been included in the charge sheet since they "forged" the senators' signatures in order to funnel their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) into Napoles' bogus non-government organizations (NGOs).
"Hindi po dumaan [ang pera kay Senator Revilla] at hindi siya kumita," he said.
"Kung titingnan mo ang ebidensya, kung sinuman ang may pinaka-kasalanan diyan, ang whistleblowers mismo. Kasi sila ang umamin na sila ang mga may kagagawan ng lahat," he said.
He appealed to the public not to quickly judge Revilla and his colleagues, and listen to what they have to say.
"Ang panawagan niya sa ating mga kababayan is to keep their minds open. Itong kasong ito ay hindi totoo, walang basehan. At huwag naman siya agad-agad na kondenahin, pakinggan niyo naman ang kanyang panig, at makikita ng bayan na talagang wala siyang kasalanan dito," Bodegon said.