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The Bong Revilla Plunder Case


Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., along with Juan Ponce Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada, was enjoying his political career and influence when the P10-billion pork barrel scam hit the headlines after the elections in 2013. They were charged for plunder before the Sandiganbayan and became the highest ranking public officials to be taken into custody for the non-bailable crime of plunder since the ousted President Joseph Estrada in 2001.

On December 7, Revilla—the only former senator to have remained in detention after Estrada and Enrile successfully moved to be granted bail—was acquitted of the charge that he pocketed more than P200 million in kickbacks after channeling his priority development assistance fund allocations to bogus NGOs controlled by Janet Lim Napoles.  

More than five years since the multi-billion-peso scheme broke out, look back at how Revilla started out as a politician popular to the public eye to an accused plunderer spending his days inside a detention cell before finally being judged not guilty.


Text by Joseph Tristan Roxas
With additional research by Jessica Bartolome
Design by Jannielyn Ann Bigtas

December 7, 2018

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July 1, 2013

PORK BARREL SCAM

The P10 billion pork barrel scam, allegedly masterminded by businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, made the headlines following an investigation by the National Bureau of Investigation. Billions of pesos worth of Priority Development Assistance Fund allocations were reportedly channeled to bogus NGOs that Napoles controlled to bankroll ghost livelihood programs in exchange for kickbacks for the lawmakers and some of their staff.

August 16, 2013

BOGUS NGOs

Testifying before a Senate inquiry, Commission on Audit chairperson Grace Pulido Tan said COA auditors found that P6.156-billion worth of priority development assistance fund allocations of almost 200 lawmakers went to 82 dubious non-government organizations from 2007 to 2009, including 10 linked to Napoles. Tan identified senators Ramon "Bong" Revilla, Jinggoy Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile as the senators who figured in the scam.

August 21, 2013

REVILLA DENIES INVOLVEMENT

Revilla, through his lawyer Joel Bodegon, denied endorsing any release of pork barrel to the Napoles NGOs.

September 16, 2013

PLUNDER RAPS VS. 3 SENATORS

The Department of Justice filed complaints for plunder before Office of the Ombudsman against Revilla, Enrile, Estrada and Napoles. Revilla's chief of staff Richard Cambe was also included in the complaints.

After learning of the plunder complaint aganst him, an emotional Revilla urged the public not to prejudge him. 

September 16, 2013: Whistleblower Benhur Luy (left) swears before Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales (right) as Justice Secretary Leila de Lima (2nd right) looks on during the filing of plunder, graft and corruption complaint against those involved in the alleged P10 billion pork barrel scam. Among the respondents named in the complaint were senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon Bong Revilla Jr., and Jinggoy Estrada, and controversial businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles
 GMA News

January 20, 2014

REVILLA BLAMES ‘BOY PIRMA’ 

Revilla pinned the blame on whistleblowers, led by Benhur Luy, for his involvement in the scam. He even called Luy as "Boy Pirma" for allegedly forging his signatures in documents being used as evidence in the plunder raps filed against the senator.

Revilla also blamed the Aquino administration for using the scheme to cover up for its slow response in Typhoon Yolanda's aftermath and its supposed failure to stop rising power rates.

April 1, 2014

REVILLA, ENRILE, ESTRADA INDICTED

The Ombudsman announced that it found probable cause to indict Revilla, Enrile and Estrada for plunder. In Revilla's case, he was found probably liable for taking advantage of his position to illegally divert his pork barrel allocations to the Napoles NGOs in exchange for kickbacks worth P242 million.

June 6, 2014

CHARGED WITH PLUNDER

Plunder charges were formally filed at the Sandiganbayan against Revilla and Napoles. Separate charge sheets were filed for Enrile, Estrada, and other lawmakers tagged in the scheme.

June 9, 2014

PRIVILEGE SPEECH

In a privilege speech, Revilla thanked his colleagues, appealed for unity, and even enumerated problems that then President Benigno Aquino III should address before his term ends: unemployment, poverty, and criminality. He also vowed to make a comeback.

In the end, Revilla used a video accompanied by an original tune called "Salamat Kaibigan" to sum up his feelings on his looming arrest.

June 9, 2014: Bong Revilla delivers a privilege speech before the Senate thanking his colleagues while hitting out at the Aquino administration over what he called were its shortcomings.

June 17, 2014

HOLD DEPARTURE ORDERS

The Sandiganbayan First Division issued hold departure orders and ordered the arrest of Revilla and Napoles.

June 20, 2014

ARREST WARRANTS

Revilla surrenders to the Sandiganbayan and filed a petition for bail. The anti-graft court granted his request to be detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center. Revilla underwent booking procedure at Camp Crame's multipurpose hall.

Revilla undergoes booking procedures in Camp Crame on Friday, June 20, after he surrendered to the Sandiganbayan. The anti-graft court manifested that it has taken Revilla into custody because he surrendered, and that there is no need to serve an arrest warrant issued against him. The booking process included a medical examination, and taking his fingerprints and mugshot.
Photos: PNP-PIO

June 26, 2014

NOT GUILTY PLEA

Revilla refused to enter a plea during his arraignment in the plunder case, prompting the Sandiganbayan to enter a not guilty plea on his behalf.

August 4, 2014

REVILLA, CAMBE SUSPENDED

The Sandiganbayan ordered the suspension of Revilla and his aide, Richard Cambe, for 90 days.

August 28, 2014

NO PERSONAL HANDOVER

In his final testimony in the bail petition of Revilla, whistle-blower Benhur Luy admitted that he never handed any money to Revilla, nor did he personally witness him signing endorsement letters for release of his PDAF to the Napoles-linked organizations.

August 14, 2014: Pork barrel scam whistleblower Benhur Luy testifies anew at the bail hearing of Revilla and alleged mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles at the Sandiganbayan. In open court, Luy admitted receiving as much as P4 million in kickbacks from the scam.
GMA News

October 9, 2014

20 BANK ACCOUNTS CLOSED

Revilla closed 20 bank accounts containing millions of pesos shortly after the pork barrel scam issue hit the headlines, according to the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).

Between April 6, 2006 to April 28, 2010, Revilla and his immediate family made numerous deposits to their various bank accounts and placed investments totaling P87,626,587.63.

October 16, 2014

REVILLA CONFIRMS ACCOUNTS

Revilla confirmed he closed several bank accounts when news of the pork barrel scam broke. He, however, said all the money in them were legally acquired.

November 13, 2014

MAJOR EVIDENCE

The Sandiganbayan admitted almost all of the evidence presented by the prosecution against Revilla, including the special audit report of the Commission on Audit on the PDAF disbursement of lawmakers. Also admitted as evidence was the hard drive of Benhur Luy containing the transactions of the Napoles NGOs.

November 17, 2014

HOSPITAL STAY

Revilla left his detention facility to undergo various medical checkups at St. Luke's Medical Center (SLMC) in Taguig City.

Revilla, in his motion to undergo various checkups, claimed that his migraine, cough, colds and hypertension have been getting worse since his detention.

November 20, 2014: Revilla arrives at the Sandiganbayan First Division to attend a bail hearing following his medical checkup at St. Luke's Medical Center.
GMA News 

December 2, 2014

BAIL PETITIONS JUNKED

The Sandiganbayan junked the bail petitions of Revilla and his co-accused in the plunder case. The court said there was strong evidence they committed plunder and were not entitled to bail.

December 29, 2014

LONGER VISITING HOURS

The Philippine National police granted Revilla and Estrada's request for longer visiting hours on New Year's Eve. They had been allowed to hold a Christmas party for their families at their detention facility as well.

December 2, 2014: The Sandiganbayan junked the bail petitions of Revilla and his co-accused in the plunder case. The court said there was strong evidence they committed plunder and were not entitled to bail. 

February 5, 2015

ASSETS FROZEN

The Sandiganbayan ordered the sheriff to freeze Revilla's assets worth more than P200 million. The prosecution had asked for a garnishment order to ensure the payment or recovery of assets in case he is convicted of plunder.

February 14, 2015

ATTENDS ENRILE PARTY

Chief Supt. Alberto Supapo and other officials of the PNP Headquarters Support Service were relieved from their posts after they were found to have allowed Revilla to attend the birthday party of Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile at the PNP General Hospital.

Revilla denied partying with Enrile but the following pictures submitted by the prosecution panel in his plunder case belied his claims. 

February 23, 2015

DISMISSAL PLEA DENIED

The Sandiganbayan junked the motion to dismiss of Revilla for the plunder case. It rejected his argument that the allegations against him did not constitute the non-bailable crime of plunder and that the case information sheet did not properly inform him of the nature and cause of the accusations.

February 23, 2015: A photo provided by government prosecutors allegedly shows Revilla supposedly attending a party for fellow pork scam respondent Senator Juan Ponce Enrile during the latter's 91st birthday celebration at the PNP General Hospital on February 14. In a statement, Revilla admitted that he was at the hospital on the said date but denied he was there to party with Enrile.

March 3, 2015

VISIT TO JOLO

Revilla was allowed to leave his detention facility to visit his son Jolo, at the Asian Hospital and Medical Center in Muntinlupa City. The younger Revilla, the vice governor of Cavite, was recuperating from a gunshot wound on his upper right chest. 

April 13, 2015

ORDINARY JAIL PUSHED

Government lawyers asked Sandiganbayan's First Division to order the transfer of Revilla and Cambre to an ordinary detention facility, this time citing the PNP's report which said Revilla slipped out of his cell on February 14, 2015 to attend Senator Juan Ponce Enrile's birthday party.

May 6, 2015

‘ NO VIP TREATMENT’

Revilla disputed the prosecution's allegation that he is being accorded special treatment while in detention, saying that it was anchored on one instance only. His opposition paper said Revilla was brought to an emergency medical check-up where he "accidentally met" Enrile.

March 13, 2015: Revilla visits son Jolo at Asian Hospital and Medical Center after the Sandiganbayan granted the senator a temporary furlough. Jolo Revilla, vice governor of Cavite, had suffered a gunshot wound.
Photo: Office of Senator Bong Revilla 

May 21, 2015

TO STAY AT CUSTODIAL CENTER

The First Division maintained that the PNP Custodial Center is the best place to secure Revilla, considering its proximity to the Sandiganbayan as well as the Custodial Center’s capacity to secure high-profile detainees.

July 14, 2015

VISIT TO AILING FATHER

Revilla was escorted to the St. Luke's Medical Center-Global City to visit his father, former Sen. Ramon Revilla Sr., 88, who had been confined at the hospital for pneumonia and dehydration.

July 14, 2015: Revilla pays a visit to his father, former senator Ramon Revilla, Sr., at St. Luke's Hospital in Taguig City. The senior Revilla was admitted to the hospital's ICU due an infection.
Photo: Office of Bong Revilla

August 20, 2015

ENRILE OUT ON BAIL

Then-Senator Juan Ponce Enrile received his provisional liberty after posting a bail of P1.45 million and presenting himself to the Sandiganbayan. This comes after the Supreme Court granted his bail petition due to his age and health reasons.

July 13, 2016

TOOTH IMPLANT SURGERY

Revilla was allowed to leave his detention for three days to undergo tooth implant surgery and other dental procedures.

He was previously allowed to leave for five days to undergo various dental procedures.

November 5, 2016

RUSHED TO HOSPITAL

Revilla was rushed to the emergency room of the PNP General Hospital after experiencing vomitting and severe headache and hypertension.

February 23, 2017

ANOTHER DISMISSAL PLEA DENIED

The Sandiganbayan junked the motion to dismiss of Revilla for the plunder case. It rejected his argument that the allegations against him did not constitute the non-bailable crime of plunder and that the case information sheet did not properly inform him of the nature and cause of the accusations.

June 22, 2017

ABSENT ON 1ST DAY

Revilla failed to show up on the first day of the trial of his plunder case as he was confined at the St. Luke's Medical Center in Taguig City.

The first day of trial had already been reset several times due to delays in the marking of evidence. The proceedings pushed through despite his absence.

The prosecution presented three witnesses, all of whom identified and authenticated documents relevant to the release of Revilla's PDAF.  

June 29, 2017

ATTENDS ON SECOND DAY

Revilla attended the second day of his plunder trial after being hospitalized due to hypertension.

Associate Graft Investigator Junelyn Pagunsan testified in court as regards the allocation from 2007 to 2009 of Revilla's PDAF to the bogus NGOs.

June 29, 2017: Former Senator Ramon Bong Revilla Jr. arrives at the Sandiganbayan to attend the plunder trial filed against him over the alleged anomalous disbursement of his pork barrel funds. GMA News

August 3, 2017

FORGED SIGNATURES

Two municipal mayors denied signing documents proving receipt of agricultural kits and livelihood projects allegedly funded by the PDAF of Revilla. They said their signatures were forged in delivery reports, certificates of acceptance, and acknowledgement receipts.

August 10, 2017

‘MAGKIKITA NA TAYO SA LABAS’

Only in the fourth day of his trial, Revilla expressed belief that it's only a matter of time before he is acquitted of the plunder charges. He said he is confident that lead defense counsels Estelito Mendoza and Ramon Esguerra would successfully prove his innocence.

September 16, 2017

JINGGOY FREE ON P1.3-M BAIL

The Sandiganbayan allowed Estrada to post a P1.3 million bail bond after it found insufficient proof that he is the “main plunderer,” or main culprit, in the case, leaving only Revilla as the lone former lawmaker still in detention.

October 3, 2017

PROSECUTION RESTS

Lead prosecutor Joefferson Torribio formally manifested that the prosecution would make a formal offer of evidence before the Sandiganbayan, marking the end of its plunder case against Revilla. 

December 7, 2017

LEAVE OF COURT PLEA DENIED

The Sandiganbayan denied the bid of Revilla for a leave of court that would have allowed him to seek the outright dismissal of his plunder case on the ground of weak evidence from the prosecution. The court said the defense needed to present further proof of Revilla's innocence.

December 7, 2017: Detained former Senator Ramon Bong Revilla Jr. attends a Sandiganbayan hearing on his plunder case over the alleged anomalous disbursement of his pork barrel funds. During the hearing, the court denied Revilla's motion for leave to file a demurrer to evidence.
GMA News 

December 24, 2017

CHRISTMAS EVE WITH FAMILY

Revilla and Cambre were allowed to spend several hours at home with their families for Christmas Eve.

December 24, 2017: Revilla was allowed several hours furlough to spend Christmas Eve at home with  family.

January 22, 2018

SC URGED TO STOP TRIAL

Revilla asked the Supreme Court to stop his trial at the Sandiganbayan and allow him to post bail in the plunder case.

He said his rights to due process, to be presumed innocent, to be informed of the nature and cause of accusation against him and to a fair trial have been violated.

June 22, 2018

FACEBOOK PICTURE

Policemen confiscated a mobile phone during an inspection at Revilla's detention cell. The inspection was conducted after the former senator posted a selfie at Facebook to mark his fourth anniversary in detention. The post has since been made unavailable.

Cellphones are among the items that detainees are prohibited from bringing in.

June 22, 2018: Police confiscate a cellphone from Revilla after he makes a Facebook post about his fourth year in detention.

June 26, 2018

FIRST DEFENSE WITNESS

The defense presented whistle-blower Merlina Sunas as its first "hostile witness."

Sunas said she never knew Revilla personally, nor did she see the former lawmaker receive his alleged kickbacks.

She also pointed to Benhur Luy as the one behind the preparation of fake endorsement letters facilitating the release of Revilla's PDAF.

June 28, 2018

SULA RECANTS TESTIMONY

State witness Marina Sula took back her earlier testimony against Revilla, claiming she was coached by the prosecution to affirm the statements of fellow whistle-blower Benhur Luy.

June 28, 2018

REVILLA TAKES THE STAND

Revilla took the witness stand for the first and last time to personally defend himself. He denied receiving any money from Napoles.

Revilla said he left the use and allocation of his PDAF to the government's implementing agencies.He said he saw no need to monitor where the public funds went.. 

June 28, 2018: Bong Revilla takes witness stand and denied receiving any money from Napoles.
Photo: Joseph Tristan Roxas.

July 24, 2018

SC DISMISSES REVILLA PLEA

The Supreme Court dismissed the petitions of Revilla and Napoles contesting the decision of the Sandiganbayan that denied their bail petitions.

August 9, 2018

SANDIGANBAYAN ENDS PLUNDER TRIAL

The First Division wrapped up the plunder trial of Revilla after the prosecution finished its presentation of rebuttal witnesses. The final day centered on refuting the claim of whistle-blower Marina Sula that she was coached by prosecutors.

September 21, 2018

SUBMITTED FOR RESOLUTION

First Division clerk of court Atty. Estela Teresita Rosete confirmed that Revilla's case is ripe for decision after both camps submitted their closing arguments.

December 7, 2018

NOT GUILTY

Bong Revilla Jr. was found not guilty of plunder in connection with the multi-billion-peso pork barrel fund scam.

Sandiganbayan found Revilla's co-accused — businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles and lawyer Richard Cambe — guilty and sentenced them to reclusion perpetua.

Napoles is described as the mastermind of the scam while Cambe is Revilla's former chief of staff. The court ordered Napoles and Cambe to "solidarily" return P124 million to the government.

The Sandiganbayan First Division had to convene to a special division to acquit Revilla because the three magistrates were unable to come up with a unanimous decision.

Ombudsman Samuel Martires had directed his prosecutors not to appeal a decision of acquittal, making the ruling final and executory.

Revilla was in tears after the promulgation.

Shortly afterwards, Revilla paid his P480,000 bail bond for his temporary freedom for his graft case.

Revilla faces 16 counts of graft for allegedly giving undue injury to the government for allocating his P517-million pork barrel to the bogus foundations of Napoles.

December 7, 2018: Revilla in tears after Sandiganbayan rules him not guilty of plunder.
Video: Maki Pulido