Legal expert fails to shed light on Revilla case
Father Ranhilio Aquino of San Beda University’s Graduate School of Law likened former senator Bong Revilla’s plunder case to a charge of theft against someone who takes another man’s wallet (“Revilla must pay despite plunder acquittal, say law dean, IBP head,” News, 12/9/18).
In that illustration (obviously meant to simplify the issue in a way that laymen will easily understand), the taking is admitted but, in avoidance of guilt, honest mistake (i.e., “good faith”) is invoked.
That being the defense, the accused must have surely returned the wallet (and all its contents) already to the rightful owner.
Hence, any acquittal should no longer carry an “order” to return what was “stolen.” If he has not and the court has to “order” him to do so, then common sense says acquittal is not on the menu to even mull over.
Father Aquino’s analogy is therefore neither here nor there.
What was expected more from his legal expertise was to shed light on how Revilla weaseled out of the sticky wicket arising allegedly from the Anti-Money Laundering Council’s report that he had tens of millions stashed in his bank accounts (and his wife’s and children’s?) at or about the time material to the plunder case; or how the slim majority of the Sandiganbayan justices came up with the “odd” ruling that while entertaining “reasonable doubt” (i.e., being unsure) as to where all that fungible wealth was amassed from, they nonetheless found Revilla liable for the return of all that money to the government in the civil cases still pending against him.
Be that as it may, it is really no consolation to say that the people still have a chance to see the color of their money again via the civil cases — which will most likely take 20 years or infinitely more to get resolved with finality!
Despite Integrated Bar of the Philippines president Abdiel Fajardo’s chimerical optimism, the Filipino people know it only too well: Justice delayed is justice denied.
STEPHEN L. MONSANTO, [email protected]
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