by Czarina Nicole Ong
Former Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla finally made it to his plunder trial before the Sandiganbayan First Division yesterday after being absent last week due to hypertension, and reiterated that the supposed government funds he was accused of pocketing actually came from his movie and television show projects.
Revilla, who was accompanied by his wife, Bacoor Mayor Lani Mercado, is facing one count of plunder and 16 counts of graft because his priority development assistance fund (PDAF) from 2006 to 2010, was said to have been channeled to the bogus non-government organizations managed by alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles.
He was accused of receiving kickbacks worth P242 million.
During the trial, Revilla’s lawyers focused on the income he received from his movie and television show projects.
The prosecution presented their fourth witness, Junilyn Pagusan, a field investigator from the Office of the Ombudsman.
Pagusan said that she received affidavits that led to the filing of the plunder complaint against Revilla.
But when cross-examined by Atty. Ramon Esguerra, she was questioned if she investigated the showbiz-related projects and income of Revilla.
“Did you bother to find out about the movie production of accused Revilla?” questioned Esguerra. “You did not bother to find out whether he earned anything from the production of movies and series?”
Pagusan admitted that “his production and his movies were not part of our investigation.”
During an interview after the trial, Revilla once again rued the slow pace of the proceedings, since he has been locked up for three years already.
“Pero wala tayong magagawa, kailangan natin dumaan sa proseso (But there is nothing we can do, we have to go through the process),” he said.
He added that it would be better if the prosecution investigates his movie projects “para mas klaro kung kaya ko bang kumita ng ganung amount, kung mayroon man silang makita sa bank account ko (so it would be clear to them if I can earn that amount, if they do see anything from my bank account).”
However, prosecutor Joefferson Toribio said the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) already investigated Revilla’s income, which they presented during the bail hearings.
“I think one of the evidence considered was the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) report, that there were unexplained amounts that entered the accounts of Sen. Revilla,” he said.
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