MANILA – Four prosecution witnesses testified Thursday at the Sandiganbayan in the plunder trial of former senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla over the alleged misuse of his pork barrel.
Appearing before the First Division of the antigraft court were: Quirino province Vice Governor Mary Calaunan; Jeanien Cervantes, register officer 1 of Atimonan town in Quezon; Efren Notorio, a Quezon resident; and Sofronio Jimenez, beneficiary of a livelihood project.
The witnesses all denied receiving agricultural production kits and being beneficiaries of livelihood projects funded by then-senator Revilla’s allocation of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
Calaunan said that, between 2001 and2010 when she served as mayor of Diffon town in Quiriino province, she did not receive any agri-production kits for livelihood. Neither did the town’s records reflect any such project.
The second witness, Cervantes, disowned her supposed signature in the acknowledgement receipt and certificate of acceptance presented in court.
Cervantes also denied getting liveliihood kits from Revilla’s PDAF.
The two supposed beneficiaries, Notorio and Jimenez, also disowned the signatures opposite their names in the document showing the list of beneficiaries.
They also denied getting agri-production kits
The defense counsel said, however, the witnesses’ testimony was all hearsay. According to Revilla’s lawyer Atty. Estelito Mendoza, none of the witnesses presented on Thursday were aware of a project linked to Revilla. Their utterances were just based on information showed them earlier by the Ombudsman investigator.
Mendoza described as fictitious the information presented about a supposed project by Revilla.
Three more prosecution witnesses were earlier planned for presentation, but the trial was suspended after the Supreme Court ordered suspension of all court proceedings in the afternoon owing to bad weather from tropical storm Gorio and the southwest monsoon.
For his part, Revilla said he had nothing to do with any alleged misrepresentation of projects. He said he did not know any of those presented and considered them victims of circumstance like him.
He said the parties who forged the signatures of the witnesses, not him, should be liable. He had earlier insisted his supposed signatures on certain documents were forged.
He said the implementing agency for the projects should be called to account.
“I have nothing to do with this; hindi ko kilala ang nga taong ito… so . . . ang ano lang natin alam natin: biktima sila, biktima rin ako, eh. Dapat managot dito kung sino ang dapat manager…. Ghost project ito, sino ‘yung nagpeke ng signature namin? Dapat iyon ang managot, not me.”
The ex-senator added, “three years na po ako nakakulong… yun ang masakit nito [I’ve been detained three years now. That’s the painful part].”