The Sandiganbayan wants to hold the trial of the remaining graft case against former Senator Ramon Revilla Jr. and his co-accused at its courtroom in Quezon City instead of the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City.
First Division chairman, Associate Justice Efren dela Cruz said the Rules of Court provides that the proceedings should be held at NBP in Muntinlupa City following the conviction of Revilla’s former legislative aide Richard Cambe and pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles.
Cambe is now detained at the NBP. Napoles, on the other hand, has been transferred to the Correctional Institution for Women in Mandaluyong City on Jan. 4—from the Quezon City Extension Jail Female Dormitory at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City— after both were convicted of plunder.
Both were absent during the hearing, but Dela Cruz referred to Cambe after his absence was raised by defense lawyer Reody Anthony Balisi.
“Because the accused is confined in the New Bilibid Prison, we should hold the trial there. [But] the court will ask the Supreme Court to give us the authority [to hold the trial at the antigraft court's hearing room],” dela Cruz said.
De la Cruz also recognized the number of co-accused and their lawyers who needed to be taken to the NBP for the hearings.
As a result, the Sandiganbayan rescheduled the resumption of Revilla’s graft trial on January 24.
Revilla was acquitted of plunder after the prosecution failed to prove he pocketed public funds amounting to P224.5 million.
He, however, is still facing 16 counts of graft in connection with the transactions done with Napoles’ non-government organizations when he was a sitting senator.
Revilla is running to regain his Senate seat in the May elections.