In shocking but not surprising news, the Sandiganbayan, the Philippines’ anti-graft court acquitted today former Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. of plunder in relation to the controversial pork barrel scam he’s linked to.
CNN Philippines reported that three justices voted for his acquittal while two voted for a conviction.
Revilla had been detained in Quezon City’s Camp Crame for four years.
In 2014, the Office of the Ombudsman filed cases against him and fellow senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada for allegedly allocating hundreds of millions of pesos of their Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) to fake non-government organizations (NGOs) owned by businessperson Janet Lim-Napoles.
A PDAF or “pork barrel” is a fund which members of the Philippine Congress are meant to use for priority projects.
Revilla was accused of pocketing PHP224 million (US$4,257,505.55) of the fund.
The scandal was made public in 2013 after an expose on Napoles by The Philippine Daily Inquirer. It caught even more media attention when a video showing the extravagant party of Napoles’ daughter went viral online.
Enrile and Estrada were also detained in Camp Crame but were allowed to post bail.
While Revilla can now run free, the Sandiganbayan found Napoles and Revilla’s aide Richard Cambe guilty. They were both sentenced to imprisonment of at least 20 years, Rappler reported.
As if knowing that things would go his way, Revilla, through his wife, earlier filed his candidacy for next year’s senatorial race.
But he’s not totally off the hook.
Revilla is still charged with 16 counts of graft, according to Rappler.