Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. did not make any plea during his arraignment for plunder before the Sandiganbayan in Quezon City Thursday morning.
The First Division of the Sandiganbayan was the one that entered the “not guilty plea” in his behalf after the senator did not make any reply when the court asked him after the reading of the charges.
On the other hand, two of his co-accused in the plunder charges — his former chief of staff Richard Cambe and alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles — entered a plea of “not guilty.”
Revilla, Cambe and Napoles are facing charges of plunder, a non-bailable offense. Thirty-one other co-accused were arraigned for 16 counts of graft.
The usual short arraignment proceeding stretched to more than two hours because the court needed to resolve first the different motions filed by the accused.
The accused, who arrived way ahead of the schedule at the Sandiganbayan, were brought immediately inside the holding area to take a rest while waiting for the actual arraignment.
Revilla wore a Barong Tagalog instead of the usual detainee uniform.
Both Revilla and Napoles were not in handcuffs when they arrived at the Sandiganbayan premises.
The Sandiganbayan barred all electronic devices like cellular phones, tape recorders and laptops inside the courtroom to avoid distraction during the proceedings. Live coverage by broadcast media was also discouraged.
The senator earlier said he is leaving his fate to God and trusts his lawyers led by counsel Joel Bodegon and the justice system to prove his innocence.
As early as 7 a.m., supporters of Revilla trooped in front of the anti-graft court to insist on the innocence of the senator in the alleged priority development assistance fund (PDAF) scam.
Cavite Rep. Lani Mercado Revilla, together with her children and the lawmaker’s showbiz manager Lolit Solis, arrived several minutes before the court started the hearing.
At least 50 Cavitenos, claiming they are residents of Bacoor City, said they will continue supporting the senator for they believe that he has not done anything wrong. PNA