MANILA – The dismissal of the graft cases against Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. in connection with the multi-billion peso “pork barrel” fund scam will not affect President Rodrigo Duterte’s anti-corruption drive, Malacañang assured the public on Tuesday.
This, after the Sandiganbayan’s Special First Division granted Revilla’s petition for a demurrer to evidence, which sought the dismissal of 16 counts of violation of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act without presenting his defense.
Despite the Sandiganbayan’s ruling in favor of Revilla, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque guaranteed that Duterte would continue to run after corrupt workers in government.
“Wala naman pong epekto diyan dahil patuloy po ang pagtuligsa ng Presidente natin sa mga kurakot sa gobyerno (That has no impact on [the anti-corruption campaign] because the President continues to go after corrupt government officials),” Roque said in a press conference in Pampanga.
Roque also ensured that Duterte’s fight against corruption will remain relentless until the Chief Executive’s last days in office.
“The President has repeatedly said na dito sa natitirang isang taon sa kaniyang termino, igugugol niya ito para labanan ang korapsyon (he will use his last year in office to fight corruption),” he said.
The cases lodged against Revilla, the anti-graft court said, were dismissed on the ground of “insufficiency of evidence against him.”
Sought for reaction, Roque said the Sandiganbayan’s ruling shows how the country’s justice system is “working.”
“Well, he was accorded his day in court and the prosecution failed to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt. Ganyan po talaga ang sistema ng katarungan sa ating Pilipinas (That’s how the justice system in the Philippines works). Ang mga akusado po ay (The accused is) presumed innocent until proven otherwise,” Roque said.
Revilla was detained in 2014, along with former Senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, and former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile who was also charged with plunder.
In 2018, the court’s same division also acquitted Revilla of plunder. After being cleared of the plunder case, Revilla immediately posted a PHP480,000 bail for the 16 counts of graft. (PNA)