Bong Revilla trial delayed anew

By Czarina Nicole Ong

The trial of former Senator Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr. before the Sandiganbayan First Division hit another snag Thursday morning as his lawyer, Estelito Mendoza, filed a motion urging the prosecution to identify evidence in relation to Revilla's reported ill-gotten wealth.

MB FILE -- Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr. leaves the Sandiganbayan courtroom after the first day of his pre-trial for his plunder and graft charges, May 21, 2015, at Quezon City. (Mark Balmores / MANILA BULLETIN) Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr.

Revilla is facing one plunder charge and 16 counts of graft because of the misuse of his priority development assistance fund (PDAF), which he reportedly endorsed to the bogus non-government organizations (NGOs) owned by Janet Lim Napoles in exchange for kickbacks.

His trial was supposed to start on January 25, but it has been moved five times already due to several motions.

In the latest one filed by Mendoza, the prosecution is urged to identify evidence - both testimonial and documentary in order to prove the primary allegations of the Information to establish the offense of plunder.

Mendoza explained that the prosecution needs to highlight the "heart of the plunder law" so that the defense would be better prepared to negate or rebut these during the trial.

"It is fairly obvious that the accused would be unable to do so unless he knows or is aware of the evidence presented by the prosecution and admitted by the Court to prove beyond reasonable doubt the primary elements of the offense of plunder as alleged in the Information," the motion read.

In response, the prosecution filed an opposition and explained that it is very inaccurate, if not misleading, for Revilla to claim he is not aware of the evidence presented by the prosecution.

"Accused Revilla cannot and should not be allowed to feign ignorance of the aforesaid testimonial and documentary evidence, including this Honorable Court's ruling thereon. Stated clearly, he is well aware of the pieces of evidence he needs to rebut or refute," the opposition read.

The prosecution added that the Sandiganbayan is a "court of law and noble magistrates," and it cannot afford to be "hypnotized" by Revilla's "repeated arguments."