Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. on Friday surrendered to the Sandiganbayan where he faces a plunder case in connection with the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam.
Revilla turned himself in about two hours after a warrant for his arrest was issued by the Sandiganbayan First Division.
Warrants were also served to his six co-accused: Revilla’s former chief-of-staff Richard Cambe, Janet Napoles, Napoles’ brother Ronald John Lim and John Raymond de Asis.
The senator was charged with one count of plunder and 16 counts of graft in a resolution signed by First Division Chairman Associate Justice Efren de la Cruz on Thursday.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales has accused Revilla of receiving P224 million as kickbacks for releasing PDAF allotments to dubious non-government organizations set up by Napoles from 2006 to 2010.
Revilla has denied the charges and has insisted that his signatures were faked.
Malacañang on Friday welcomed the Sandiganbayan decision to arrest Revilla, calling it as a “significant step” toward attaining justice.
“The issuance of warrants of arrest against Senator Revilla and others implicated in the plunder case pertaining to the alleged misuse of public funds is a significant step forward in the judicial process,” Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said in a press statement.
The other senators accused in the PDAF scam, Juan Ponce Enrile and Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, also expected to be served arrest warrants soon.
Coloma stressed the Palace’s assurance to the accused of a “fair and just trial.”
“We believe that through a fair and just trial, accountability will be clearly established and in like manner, those who are innocent will be exonerated. We join the citizenry in hoping that truth and justice will prevail,” he said.
LLANESCA T. PANTI and JOEL M. SY EGCO