• Revilla sees acquittal; trial starts next week

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    The camp of former senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. is confident that he will be acquitted as it prepares for the plunder trial of the former lawmaker.

    Revilla is facing plunder and graft charges at the Sandiganbayan in connection with the alleged misuse of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel.

    The trial will start on June 22.

    On Thursday, the parties signed the 764-page pretrial order which lists the number of hearing dates, as well as the witnesses to be presented and the issues to be resolved during the trial of the case.

    “Ako’y naniniwala na, sabi ko nga dati pa, lalabas at lalabas ang katotohanan. Magtatatlong taon na kami dito…hirap po ng kalagayan namin pero ganunpaman, ‘di po kami nawawalan ng pagasa (I believe that the truth will come out. We’ve been detained for almost three years. It is difficult, but we have not lost all hope),” Revilla told reporters on Thursday.

    At least 50 witnesses, including key pork scam informant Benhur Luy, will be presented by the prosecution for 60 trial settings. The court has scheduled morning and afternoon hearings.

    The prosecution will present three witnesses — one each from the Department of Budget and Management, Bureau of Treasury, and the Department of Agriculture — next week.

    Revilla’s camp had wanted to delete the list of their evidence and submit a list 10 days before it presents evidence.

    “It is not fair to straitjacket the defense even before the prosecution shall have presented its case,” Revilla’s lawyer, Estelito Mendoza argued in court.

    Mendoza said that it was not possible for the defense to anticipate the prosecution’s evidence.

    According to the court, it is the defense’s prerogative if it will present the witnesses on the list or not.

    Mendoza said the defense wants a speedy trial “because we are confident that [former]Sen. Revilla is going to get acquitted.”

    Revilla’s trial had been postponed several times. The original trial date of January 12 was reset to February 9, which was reset to February 23. It was again postponed to March 30 because of the defense’s manifestation that Revilla will file a motion for reconsideration.

    On April 20 the trial was reset to June 1.

    Revilla is one of three former senators charged with plunder and graft. The others are, Juan Ponce Enrile and Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada.

    Revilla and Estrada are detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame in Quezon City. Enrile is out on bail.

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