July 18, 2018, 11:30 pm
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Revilla optimistic amid lawyers’ failure to block gov’t witnesses

FORMER Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. remains optimistic about proceedings in his plunder and graft cases before the Sandiganbayan First Division even if his lawyers failed to block the testimony of government witnesses at yesterday’s hearing.

The actor-politician, held in detention without bail for the past three years because of his P224.5 million plunder case, said he remains confident of his chances at securing an acquittal based on the progress of the trial.

At the continuation of the plunder trial, prosecutors presented the testimonies of former Benguet Mayors Florencio Bentrez (Tuba) and Benito Siadto (Kibungan); former Luna, La Union Mayor Celedonio Sonido; Balungao, Pangasinan Barangay Captain Ramel Serdeniola; and Kibungan, municipal agriculturist Perfecto Cayat about the non-existent projects supposedly delivered to their constituents.

Revilla’s counsel, Estelito Mendoza, raised objections on the relevance of the said testimonies, saying they were unrelated to any acts imputed to Revilla or the other defendants.

He noted that the offer of the witnesses’ testimony was not related to any specific allegation in the information which makes it misleading because it was not Revilla but non-government organization linked to Janet Napoles, the Masaganang Ani Para sa Magsasaka Foundation Inc. (MAMFI), which was supposed to have given the projects.

Prosecutor Joefferson Toribio countered that the witnesses were called to clarify part of the scheme where projects were implemented with funds sourced from the PDAF of Revilla, and ultimately how the kickbacks were paid and received “before, during, and after the projects identification.”

The Sandiganbayan ruled that the witnesses may be allowed to continue based on the tenor of their narrative but subject to the objections of the defense as to their truthfulness.

Also at yesterday’s hearing, start of trial on Revilla’s 16 counts of graft was set on October 5, 2017 and all succeeding Thursdays unless otherwise called off by the First Division.

Speaking to reporters after the hearing, Revilla said he is confident the court trial will ferret out the truth in the charges against him and that he will be cleared of any liability.

“At the end of the day, the truth will emerge, as you have seen from the defense of my lawyers. With a little more patience, we will see each other out of here soon. The people will know the facts, we will just have to wait for the process to unfold,” he said. – Peter J. G. Tabingo
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