By CNN Philippines Staff
Prosecutors from the Office of the Ombudsman filed a motion ordering former Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. to pay back the national treasury millions of pesos from the pork barrel scam.
The 15-page motion for execution of judgment on the civil liability of Revilla was filed at the Sandiganbayan on January 28, signed by Deputy Special Prosecutor Manuel Soriano Jr., Acting Director Prosecution Bureau I Mariter Delfin-Santos, and Assistant Special Prosecutor III Reza Casila-Derayunan.
Revilla — who is running for senator in the midterm elections — was acquitted by the Sandiganbayan on plunder and graft charges in the controversial case on December 7.
The court’s first division said the prosecution failed to prove he was guilty beyond reasonable doubt for plunder through benefitting from the use of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
Pursuant to Article 100 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC), the court said “accused are held solidarily and jointly liable to return to the National treasury the amount of one hundred twenty-four million, five hundred thousand pesos (₱124,500,000.00).”
Prosecutors: Revilla has to pay
Prosecutors said if the court wanted to exclude Revilla from returning the money, it could have simply named Napoles and Cambe and would not have used the term “accused” collectively.
“In the third paragraph, however, without any qualification, the Majority held that the accused — referring to Revilla, Cambe, and Napoles who underwent trial,” the prosecutors said.
The motion filed also states while Revilla was acquitted, it was merely because his guilt could not be established beyond reasonable doubt,” and not due to the absolute failure of the prosecution to prove his guilt.”
“The quantum of proof required in criminal prosecution (beyond reasonable doubt) is greater than that required for civil liability (mere preponderance of evidence),” it said.
This was similar to what Abdiel Fajardo, the president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), the national organization of lawyers, said in a statement after Revilla’s release in 2018. “Conviction on the criminal charge requires proof beyond reasonable doubt, while a judgment of liability on the civil charge requires only a preponderance of evidence,” Fajardo said.
The motion also states, while Revilla may have been acquitted of the criminal charge, this does not mean he is necessarily “civilly free.”
“It bears stressing that Article 100 of the RPC does not provide that only those who are criminally liable are civilly liable. Thus, a person may still be held civilly liable, if there is basis to hold him/her so,” the motion states.
In December, Revilla’s lawyers said he was excluded from doing the same because only his co-accused had civil liability.
Revilla’s camp: What shall he return?
Estelito Mendoza, the lawyer of Revilla, released a statement Tuesday referring to the dispositive portion of the Sandiganbayan decision.
“Revilla did not receive, directly or indirectly, rebates, commission, and kickbacks from his PDAF. What, then shall he return?” Mendoza said.
He added since Revilla is not criminally liable, the third paragraph of the dispositive portion would not refer to him, but only to the ones found to be so, namely Janet Lim Napoles and Richard Cambe.