Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. and his staff Richard Cambe will remain detained in the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center as the Sandiganbayan denied a motion of the prosecution to transfer them to a Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) facility.
Revilla is facing a P224-million plunder charge in connection with the pork barrel scam.
“The prosecution failed to advance compelling and reasonable grounds to justify the transfer of accused Revilla and Cambe,” the Sandiganbayan’s 12-page resolution dated Thursday read.
The resolution was penned by Sandiganbayan First Division Chairman Efren Dela Cruz and concurred in by fellow Associate Justices Rodolfo Ponferrada and Rafael Lagos.
Prosecutors earlier moved that Revilla be transferred, arguing that the PNP Custodial Center is not a jail because it is not under the BJMP.
“The court is not persuaded. There is nothing in the said provisions which expressly or impliedly supports the view of the prosecution,” the resolution read, referring to Republic Act (RA) 6975, which created the PNP.
The prosecutors anchored their stand on RA 6975, which provides that jails are established for custody and safekeeping of persons awaiting trial and mandates the BJMP to exercise supervision and control over all city and municipal jails.
“[T]here is no hard and fast rule mandating that a detainee must be placed in a jail. On the contrary, detention in facilities other than a jail is sanctioned in our jurisdiction,” the Sandiganbayan’s resolution said.
The court agreed with Revilla that a person may be placed in detention in “any other place of custody,” citing rules of court.
Former President Joseph Estrada was allowed to stay in his Tanay (Rizal) property pending trial and his successor, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, is under hospital arrest at the Veterans’ Memorial Medical Center as her plunder case is being tried in the same division as Revilla’s, the Sandiganbayan noted.
The court disagreed with the prosecutors who also argued that the senator is being accorded special treatment in his place of detention at present.
“[T]he special treatment, e.g., wedding anniversary celebration of Senator [Jose] “Jinggoy” Estrada claimed by the prosecution, does not go with the place. It has even nothing to do with accused Revilla and Cambe,” it said.
“[N]o matter which detention place will accused Revilla and Cambe be confined . . . there will always be that dreaded ‘special treatment,’” the court added.
The so-called special treatment can be remedied by firm implementation of policies and measures and imposition of sanctions for non-compliance, not by transferring the accused, the Sandiganbayan said, adding that the fact of detention is more important than the place of detention
As a final note, the court clarified that the accused’s detention in Camp Crame is not permanent citing its directive to the PNP to keep them there until further orders.
“Suffice it to state that at any time, upon a showing of cogent and substantive justifications, the court may direct their transfer to other detention facilities appropriate under any given circumstance,” it said.