Revilla acquittal draws mixed reactions from senators

MANILA The acquittal of former senator Ramon Bong" Revilla Jr. of plunder charges on Friday in connection with the multibillion-peso pork barrel fund scam has drawn mixed reactions from senators.

As a former colleague and friend, I am happy for ex-Senator Bong Revilla. As a strong advocate against the pork barrel system, I feel weak and defeated, Senator Panfilo Lacson said of Revilla's acquittal.

However, the seasoned lawmaker said he respects the decision of the anti-graft court.

As a legislator who knows the justice system, I respect the decision of the Sandiganbayan, for they, more than anyone, have better appreciation of the evidence, he said.

At the end of the day, life goes on. Same is true with our individual battles, Lacson said.

For Senator Gregorio Gringo Honasan II, what matters most is that due process and the rule of law was observed.

If these things can happen to high officials, you can imagine what is inflicted on ordinary citizens. Just invoke due process and rule of law, he said.

He added that the only effect that he sees from Revilla's acquittal is that it would allow everybody to move on from the issue.

To me, that it can allow us to move forward, let's move on as long as these two conditions are met: rule of the law and due process, Honasan said.

Meanwhile, Senate President Vicente Sotto III gave a short comment on the issue. I will most probably see him back in the Senate next year, Sotto said.

Revilla, who has been detained for more than four years prior to his acquittal, is gunning for his old Senate seat this coming mid-term elections.

Senator Richard Gordon, on the other hand, said the acquittal is good for Revilla, but declined to give further comments as he has yet to see the full Sandiganbayan decision.

I have not read the decision, but it is an acquittal. Good for him because he won, but I'm not in a position to comment on the decision, he said.

Senator Francis Pangilinan assailed the majority decision, saying he does not see the logic behind the judgment.

Paano naging guilty ang nanuhol pero not guilty ang sinuhulan? Mahirap unawain ang naging pasya (How is it that the ones who bribed were found guilty but the one they bribed was not? It is hard to understand the decision)," he said in a statement.

Voting 3-2, the Sandiganbayan First Division acquitted Revilla due to the prosecution's failure to prove, beyond reasonable doubt, that the former lawmaker received kickbacks from his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

However, the court found Revilla's co-accused businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles and lawyer Richard Cambe guilty and sentenced them to reclusion perpetua, with perpetual absolute disqualification to hold any public office.

The accused were ordered to return solidarily and jointly to the National Treasury the amount of PHP124.5 million.

Revilla has been detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame since June 20, 2014 after the Sandiganbayan ordered his arrest.

Revilla was accused of amassing PHP124.5 million worth of ill-gotten wealth by channeling his PDAF to bogus foundations linked to Napoles from 2006 to 2010. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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