I would love to con­vict him but…

Judge in Revilla’s plun­der case ad­mits:

Cebu Daily News - - ISLANDS - /IN­QUIRER.NET

MAN ILA , Philip­pines — T h e Sandi­gan­bayan jus­tice who wrote the de­ci­sion to ac­quit Sen­a­tor Ra­mon “Bong” Revilla Jr. has clar­i­fied that she ini­tially wanted to con­vict him of plun­der – but was re­strained by lack of proof.

“Yes, I know it’s un­pop­u­lar. I would have loved to be a hero­ine, that I con­victed him,” Sandi­gan­bayan First Di­vi­sion As­so­ciate Judge Geral­dine Faith Econg told re­porters a few hours af­ter Revilla was ac­quit­ted on Fri­day.

“But at the end of the day, I’m bound to rule based on ev­i­dence pre­sented by both the prose­cu­tion and the de­fense,” she added.

Econg was the po­nente — or the di­vi­sion mem­ber who wrote the de­ci­sion — of the First Di­vi­sion’s stand. Ac­cord­ing to her, the prose­cu­tion failed to prove that Revilla in­deed com­mit­ted plun­der, or re­ceived kick­backs from pork bar­rel.

Revilla al­legedly al­lo­cated P224 mil­lion of his Pri­or­ity De­vel­op­ment As­sis­tance Fund (PDAF) pur­posely to fake non­govern­ment or­ga­ni­za­tions of pork bar­rel scam mas­ter­mind Janet Lim-Napoles.

Napoles and Revilla’s aide Richard Cambe were con­victed.

“For fail­ure of the prose­cu­tion to es­tab­lish be­yond rea­son­able doubt that ac­cused Ra­mon “Bong” Revilla Jr. re­ceived, di­rectly or in­di­rectly, the re­bates, com­mis­sion, and kick­backs from his PDAF, the Court can­not hold him li­able for the crime of plun­der. Ac­cord­ingly, he is ac­quit­ted,” she said.

In the same doc­u­ment, she also stressed that the court must fo­cus on the facts of the case, and should not be swayed by pop­u­lar opin­ion — such as the clamor for Revilla to be con­victed.

“More­over, courts are ex­pected to be in­su­lated from the pres­sures of pub­lic opin­ion. Pop­u­lar­i­tyor un­pop­u­lar­ity of the ver­dict should never be a fac­tor in ar­riv­ing at a de­ci­sion,” Econg said.

“Rather the main con­sid­er­a­tion must be whether or not jus­tice is served as war­ranted by the ev­i­dence on record,” she added.

In sev­eral on­line plat­forms, Filipino ne­ti­zens slammed the de­ci­sion of the anti-graft court, even ac­cus­ing judges of re­ceiv­ing pay­backs in ex­change for a fa­vor­able de­ci­sion.

How­ever, Econg stressed that it was the fault of the prose­cu­tion for not prov­ing the al­le­ga­tions against Revilla.

“In other words, lack of di­rect ev­i­dence should not be an op­por­tu­nity for one to fall for the con­ve­nient l ure of sus­pi­cion in the de­ter­mi­na­tion of an ac­cused’s li­a­bil­ity for the crime charged,” the as­so­ciate jus­tice said in the de­ci­sion.

“More­over, the ev­i­dence of the other camp sub­mit­ted by the prose­cu­tion did not ex­clude the pos­si­bil­i­ties that he did not com­mit the crime,” she added later, dur­ing the in­ter­view.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Philippines

© PressReader. All rights reserved.