In a move that would try to buy him more time should the Office of the Ombudsman decides to file before the Sandiganbayan malversation, falsification and even plunder charges against him and 37 other people, including colleagues Jinggoy Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile, relative to the P10-billion Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam, Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr has hired a defense lawyer to go after the whistleblowers that implicated him.
Revilla filed a damage suit against whistleblowers Benhur Luy and Marina C. Sula and five other people demanding that they return P502 million of his pork barrel that was supposedly given them.
In his suit, Revilla asked the court to nullify the allegations against him in the documents from the Commission on Audit (COA). These documents pertained to Revilla’s supposed use of his PDAF or pork barrel.
He described the documents as “fictitious.”
Describing this move, House Deputy Majority Leader Sherwin Tugna of Citizens Battle Against Corruption party-list, a lawyer, said, ”Legally speaking, the damage suit filed in Cavite RTC [Regional Trial Court] is a sound legal strategy because it is in the nature of a prejudicial question. The resolution of the Cavite case is an issue that has to be resolved first before the Ombudsman and eventually the Sandiganbayan can proceed in the plunder charge.”
”This move would mean that before the Ombudsman can proceed in the determination of probable cause against Senator Revilla in the plunder case, the authenticity or forgery of the documents should be determined in Cavite-Regional Trial Court where Sen. Revilla is from,” Tugna added.
It will be noted that Revilla has repeatedly insisted on his innocence from the PDAF scam, arguing that his signature, and even that of his senior staff, Richard Cambe, were forged by the Napoles-owned non-government organizations.
Abogadomo.com website explains it more clearly, saying, that for defense lawyers, it (meaning the prejudicial question) is an effective tool for stalling the preliminary investigation or prosecution of a case, most especially in cases where their client is certain to be charged or convicted criminally. More than a delaying tactic, however, the existence of prejudicial question is a serious and fundamental issue that needs to be resolved in order to fully satisfy the requirements of due process and elementary fairness.
Perhaps Revilla, like Estrada who is reported to have engaged the services of aging, but top-notch lawyer, Estelito Mendoza, a former solicitor general and justice minister during the Marcos era, heeded the warning given by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, who at the outset had this piece of advice to everyone involved in the pork barrel scam: “Whoever are those involved in the PDAF controversy, they should start coming up with their defense because we will surely file a case if we find that probable cause exists. They should start coming up with their defense now. They should engage good lawyers if they want to be safe, to have a safe and sound sleep.”
Revilla maybe demanding for the return of P502 million of his pork barrel that was supposedly given the whistleblowers, but what of the alleged kickback that has already been pocketed per the whistleblowers themselves?
Will Estrada also be raising the same prejudicial question for the same reason?
Are we going to see the end of this, if ever, or are we just being taken for a ride, like we have always been by these politicians/lawmakers, who always find ways of making it hard for us and easier for them because of clout?
Anybody who has money coming out of their ears can very well do this, but hopefully not until hell freezes.