MANILA (UPDATED) - The Sandiganbayan First Division entered a not guilty plea for Senator Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr. after the senator refused to enter any plea.
Revilla, who is facing one count of plunder and 16 counts of graft, is accused of pocketing P224.512 million in kickbacks from his priority development assistance funds (PDAF).
The Sandiganbayan First Division has also set for hearing on July 10 the motion for bail filed by the senator.
Revilla earlier denied stealing public funds, saying that he earns good money from his career as an actor.
The senator also blamed a "syndicate" in government, involving officials of implementing agencies and the Commission on Audit, for perpetrating the scam.
Meanwhile, Revilla's aide, Richard Cambe, entered a plea of not guilty in the plunder and graft charges filed against him.
His legal counsel, Atty. Michael Ancheta, said Cambe was a member of Revilla’s legislative staff and was not his chief of staff, as earlier reported.
Janet Lim Napoles, alleged mastermind of the pork barrel scam and co-accused in the graft and plunder cases, also entered a plea of not guilty before the court.
NO TO AMENDED CHARGES
Meanwhile, the Sandiganbayan First Division rejected the motion of the Ombudsman's Office of the Special Prosecutor to amend the information or charges to put more emphasis on the alleged plunder of public money by Senators Revilla, Jinggoy Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile.
The prosecution wanted to add the phrase, "by exerting undue pressure on the implementing agencies to favorably act on his endorsement of the NGOs of Napoles to ensure that his [Priority Development Assistance Fund] be in the possession and control of Napoles and her cohorts which undue pressure and endorsement, were in exchange of kickbacks percentage or commissions, thereby unjustly enriching himself,” to the charges against the senators.
This means the prosecution wants to emphasize that the senator was the one "who amassed, accumulated and acquired ill-gotten wealth in connivance or in conspiracy with co-accused public officer and private individuals.”
Defense lawyers, however, questioned the motion, saying that this means that the original informations filed before the anti-graft court are weak.