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Ombudsman junks Bong Revilla's plunder charge vs. ‘pork’ scam whistleblowers

The Office of the Ombudsman has junked the plunder complaint filed by Senator Bong Revilla Jr. against three whistleblowers – including Benhur Luy – in the alleged P10-billion pork barrel scam.

At the same time, the joint order by a special panel of investigators, dated January 28, 2014, denied the senator's motion to suspend the preliminary investigation on the plunder charge filed against him.

According to a statement released on Thursday, Ombudsman Conchita Morales dismissed Revilla's plunder charge against whistleblowers Benhur Luy, Merlina Suñas and Marina Sula "since the three have been admitted to the Department of Justice’s Witness Protection Program."

However, the countercharge against a certain Petronilla Balmaceda was subjected to further fact-finding investigation.

The Ombudsman also dismissed Revilla's countercharge against fellow respondents in the 'pork' scam cases Dennis Cunanan, Antonio Ortiz, Alan Javellana, Gondelina Amata, Salvador Salacup, Mylene Encarnacion, Nemesio Pablo, Evelyn De Leon, Jocelyn Piorato, John Raymund De Asis and Ronald John Lim.

It said the countercharge was junked "because it stems from similar, if not identical, factual allegations as those filed by the National Bureau of Investigation and Field Investigation Office against them who are, in any event, already impleaded."

Revilla's motion to suspend the Ombudsman's preliminary investigation on the pork barrel scam was also junked as investigators found "no prejudicial question exists to warrant the suspension...."

According to an earlier Philippine Star report,  Revilla asked the Ombudsman to suspend its preliminary investigation pending the resolution of the civil case before Branch 19 of the Regional Trial Court of Bacoor City in Cavite.

Revilla earlier argued that the civil complaint for declaration of nullity of documents involved facts intimately related to the plunder complaint against him, the report said.

But the joint order ruled that the civil complaint at the RTC "has no bearing in the outcome of the criminal cases filed with the Office of the Ombudsman."

The Ombudsman has also denied a similar motion by lawyer Richard Cambe, a member of Revilla's staff, who is currently on leave.

Cambe is also being implicated in the alleged anomaly.

But in a text message to reporters on Thursday, Revilla's counsel, lawyer Joel Bodegon, said their camp will ask the Ombudsman, through a formal motion, to reconsider its decision to proceed with the plunder proceedings against his client.

Bodegon maintained that "the civil case and the criminal case are based on the same set of facts and circumstances."

"If the civil court rules that the Priority Development Assistance Fund documents are null and void, then there is nothing for the Ombudsman to hold Senator Bong Revilla as probably liable for trial for plunder," the lawyer said.

Revilla is facing a plunder complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman for allegedly pocketing over P224 million in kickbacks from the alleged pork barrel scam, supposedly engineered by businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles. — Amanda Fernandez with a report from Andreo Calonzo RSJ/LBG, GMA News