Revilla still faces civil liability case

FORMER Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. has to settle his civil liability amounting to P124.5 million.

This is according to government prosecutors as they asked the Sandiganbayan Special First Division to issue a writ of execution to compel Revilla to pay the civil liability.

While the Sandiganbayan acquitted Revilla on his P224-million plunder case, the decision still is for him to return to the government the P124.5 million.

In the December 7, 2018 decision, only businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles and Revilla’s former aide, Richard Cambe, were convicted of the capital offense and were sentenced to reclusion perpetua.

“As regards Revilla, while he was acquitted, the same was based merely on reasonable doubt and not due to the absolute failure of the prosecution to prove his guilt. This is why the judgment did not declare him to be without civil liability,” the prosecution pointed out.

The motion was signed by prosecution panel head Deputy Special Prosecutor Manuel T. Soriano, Prosecution Bureau 1 director Mariter V. Delfin-Santos, and assistant special prosecutor Reza M. Casila-Derayunan.

They noted that Revilla’s camp left the decision and the court’s pronouncement on civil liability unchallenged although Napoles and Cambe notified the court of their intention to appeal.

“The Decision has attained finality as far as Revilla is concerned, due to his failure to timely move for reconsideration, much more to appeal, his civil liability,” the prosecutors said.

In support of this stand, they argued that Article 100 of the Revised Penal Code “does not provide that only those who are criminally liable are civilly liable.”

“Thus, a person acquitted may still be civilly liable if there is basis to hold him/her so.  Courts can acquit an accused on reasonable doubt but still order payment of civil damages in the same case. That is what the majority did in the present case,” the panel added.

To understand why Revilla has to pay up even if he was acquitted of plunder, Ombudsman prosecutors said the Sandiganbayan’s findings on the bearing of testimonial evidence must be closely considered.

They explained that the court accorded great weight to the testimonies of whistleblowers Benhur Luy, Marina Sula, Merlita Suñas, and Mary Arlene Baltazar.