Court rejects ‘Bong’petition for furlough

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The anti-graft court Sandiganbayan’s First Division has thumbed down Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr.’s request that he be allowed to leave his place of detention in order to attend his daughter’s 18th birthday celebration in Muntinlupa City (Metro Manila) on Saturday.

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Revilla is detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City, over plunder and graft charges filed against him in connection with the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel scam.

“After deliberating on the matter, the court is inclined to deny the motion,” the court said in a ruling dated October 22 and made public on Friday.

“As correctly pointed out by the prosecution, the instant matter does not present an exceptional circumstance, being merely a social event, that would warrant a deviation from the general limitations on the rights of an accused detention prisoner,” it added.

“Furthermore, the court considers significant the huge security risks to which the accused would be exposed if the motion were granted, given that the very purpose for the furlough is for the accused to be at a birthday celebration—a party—where he will present his daughter to a lot of people,” the court said.

Revilla had asked the court for a furlough to attend the 18th birthday of his daughter Ma. Fraznel Loudette Bautista at the Bellevue Hotel in Alabang on October 24.

Last March, the court thumbed down his request to attend Loudette’s high school graduation ,saying that allowing him would set a bad precedent and would be regarded as a mockery of the administration of justice.

Revilla is accused of receiving kickbacks totaling P224 million by pouring his PDAF allocation to non-government organizations (NGOs) allegedly run by businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles for projects that allegedly turned out to be “ghost.”

He was one of the three senators whom the Office of the Ombudsman charged before the court last year in connection with the PDAF scam, the other two being Senators Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile, who are facing separate plunder and graft cases.

Citing strong evidence, the court’s First Division denied bail petitions of Revilla, his former aide and co-accused Richard Cambe and Napoles last December.

REINA TOLENTINO

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