By William Casis | FilAm Star Correspondent
Former Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla asked the Sandiganbayan to give him a leave to file a demurrer to evidence in his PHP 224.5-million plunder case over the multi-billion pork barrel anomaly.
A demurrer to evidence is a pleading filed by a defendant telling the court they no longer need to present evidence and that the prosecution’s weak evidence is enough to dismiss a case.
But to file this, the court must approve the motion for leave first. Without it, filing a demurrer is a big risk.
The anti-graft court’s First Division is set to resolve Revilla’s motion for reconsideration over his motion for leave to file a demurrer to evidence. The court issued the first motion last December 7.
In rejecting their first motion, First Division Chairman Justice Efren dela Cruz said “the court is of the view that there is a need for the accused to present evidence.”
Revilla’s camp pointed out that the supposed kickbacks from 2006 to 2008 coursed through staff member Richard Cambe could not be traced to any Special Allotment Release Order (SARO).
“These transactions were not shown to have been based or sourced from any of the 12 SAROs subject of the preliminary investigation in this case. Plaintiff also failed to connect them with any of Revilla’s endorsement letters of Napoles NGOs,” read Revilla’s motion.
Revilla stressed the kickbacks were not covered by an endorsement letter from his office when he was a senator.
Therefore, without those SAROs and endorsement letter, Revilla said the alleged kickbacks only amount to PHP 36.5 million, which is below the PHP 50-million plunder threshold.
Former Solicitor Gen. Estelito Mendoza, Revilla’s lawyer, said that the First Division’s order, which found that “there is a need for the accused to present their evidence,” is actually a ruling that favors them.
“(The Court) does not rule that it finds the evidence of the prosecution ‘sufficient.’ The reasons elaborated in detail in his motion on why the evidence of the prosecution is insufficient merits more than a casual denial,” the motion said.
If the Revilla camp takes the risk to file a demurrer without leave, they are waiving their right to present their evidence, and a denied demurrer will very likely mean conviction.
If they choose to present evidence, they will start in January 2018.
Before he left the Office of the Ombudsman, lead prosecutor Joefferson Toribio said that what will pin down Revilla are the findings of the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).
AMLC lawyer Leigh Vhon Santos testified that the PHP 87 million in cash deposits in Revilla’s account matched the dates that appeared on Benhur Luy’s records when he supposedly delivered kickbacks.