Christmas bonanzas

Posted by watchmen
July 26, 2021
Posted in OPINION

In the trial of Sen. Bong Revilla for plunder, the prosecution presented a summary of what its star witness called kickbacks, commissions or rebates received through his staff Richard Cambe. 

Cambe is a lawyer who had served the Revilla family for so long until his indictment and eventual conviction for the non-bailable offense of plunder. His main job description was to assist the Senator in his legislative work.

In that summary of releases covered by SAROs (Special Allotment Release Order), Revilla allegedly received a windfall of bonanzas from Janet Lim Napoles in December 2008 totaling P37 million.

Also in that Christmas period Cambe received P5.3 million purportedly representing his commission in the pork barrel releases that never benefited the Filipino people. That amount is infinitely more substantial than his monthly salary from government, and practically unreachable for the ordinary practicing lawyer in this country.

That is just for 2008. The accusation is that Sen. Revilla received more than P200 million in kickbacks from 2006-2010. Since the kickback is 50% of the releases from government, the latter paid more than P400 million for what amounts to nothing.

This also shows the exponential growth in the wealth of Napoles during the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

In fact, the Commission on Audit had zeroed in on the projects of government supposed to have been undertaken during calendar years 2007-2009.

COA wrote Revilla in July 2011 asking him to confirm that the letters addressed to various agencies implementing his “priority projects” were in fact signed by him or his authorized representative Cambe.

Prior to the pork-barrel controversy Revilla recognized authorship of letters green-lighting the projects from which Napoles drew hundreds of millions of pesos.

Indeed, it was not until the scandal exploded that the Senator denied having released the letter addressed to COA acknowledging that the questionable projects were indeed initiated by his office.

Why was there a need to fabricate a letter-response to COA at a time when there was no reason to do so?

How could projects amounting to almost half a billion pesos evade Revilla’s attention and make it possible for a ghost or a phantom to forge his signature certifying that he was authorizing these projects?

How could someone be so cavalier about hundreds of millions of pesos entrusted to his care by the Filipino people? It simply does not make sense.

It was the testimony of a so-called handwriting expert that became a major basis for Revilla’s acquittal for plunder in late 2018. The expert testified that the signatures on the documents presented by the prosecution did not belong to the Senator.

Last week the Sandiganbayan acquitted Revilla of 16 counts of graft charges related to the plunder charge earlier dismissed as against him.

The Senator extolled the decision, exclaiming that “after eight long years, nangibabaw nang tuluyan ang hustisya!…I am not and never have been involved in graft and corruption. This is the reason why I did not run; I did not hide; and did not evade the judicial system. I put my trust and life in our courts.”

Cambe, who was convicted for plunder despite his boss’ acquittal, was reported to have suffered a stroke inside the New Bilibid prison and died at the Ospital ng Muntinlupa in April this year.

Of this particular triumvirate charged by the Ombudsman to have amassed wealth at the expense of the Filipino people, only Janet Lim Napoles remains incarcerated, ever hopeful of future Christmases that will bring better tidings./WDJ

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