The plunder trial of former senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. in connection with the alleged misuse of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel will start on June 22. The Sandiganbayan’s First Division expects the trial to last for two years.
On Thursday, the anti-graft court reset the prosecution’s initial presentation of evidence to June 22 because of pending matters and the finalization of the pretrial order which the parties are set to sign on June 15.
A pretrial order lists the number of hearing dates as well as the witnesses to be presented and the issues to be resolved during trial.
The prosecution, which will present at least 50 witnesses including key pork scam informant Benhur Luy, was given 60 trial settings. Hearings will be held in the morning and afternoon every Thursday.
The prosecution also intends to present as witnesses bank representatives as well as the intended beneficiaries of the PDAF-funded projects.
The camps of Revilla, his former aide Richard Cambe and Janet Lim-Napoles were given a total of 50 trial settings to present their evidence.
Revilla intends to present 37 witnesses. Cambe has 19 witnesses, while Napoles intends to present 13. Associate Justice Efren de la Cruz, who leads the court’s First Division, said that the trial may take “less than two years.”
Revilla is one of three former senators charged with plunder and graft by the Office of the Ombudsman for allegedly using their pork barrel to fund ghost projects. The other two were 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, while Enrile is out on bail after the Supreme Court granted his bail petition on humanitarian grounds. Napoles is detained at a Bureau of Jail Management and Penology facility in Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig. Two other accused, John Raymund de Asis and Ronald John Lim, remain at large.