[OPINION] Grand judicial cover-up for Revilla

The acquittal of ex-senator Revilla and the conviction of his chief of staff, Attorney Cambe, is perplexing. The subordinate is answerable for the crime, but his boss is not. This gives the reasonable impression that Cambe acted on his own. Or more precisely, he acted only with Janette Napoles who is also convicted.  

While Revilla is acquitted, he is ordered to return to the government P124 million. The underlying premise is that Revilla got this money. But of course, where would he have gotten it except from Cambe and Napoles! This presents an intriguing scenario where Revilla just receives the money without himself having participated in the plunder.  

Revilla was charged, imprisoned and tried as a Senator of the land. He was judged not just as Revilla as a person, but Revilla as a mighty and powerful senator. In a real sense, it is the Senate, if not the whole Congress, that underwent trial.  

Plunder came about, because PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund) by itself is a gargantuan transaction. Congress installed PDAF in the law which is the annual appropriations act. Our lawmakers took undue advantage of their mighty positions to create a transaction for themselves.

As decided by the Supreme Court, the PDAF is unconstitutional, because it contains a post-enactment power for a lawmaker to intervene in the implementation of projects, which is supposedly the sole function of the executive department.  It is this post-enactment power, or the power after the enactment of the law, that crucially allowed a lawmaker like Senator Revilla to be able to perpetuate the transaction.

This post-enactment power embedded in the PDAF is exercisable only by a lawmaker like Revilla. It is only a Senator or a Congressman who can propose or identify a project and cause it to be funded under his allotted funds in the PDAF.  Not being a Senator, Atty. Cambe has no such power.

As a mere subordinate, Cambe can conspire with Napoles only if Revilla actually uses funds under PDAF to be allotted for certain projects with government agencies. It staggers the mind to think that in such a multi-million transaction, Revilla could have been completely left in the dark, not knowing anything, and then later could just have happily received P124 million or more from Cambe and Napoles. 

Monumental crime

On a deeper level, it is not just Revilla, Cambe or Napoles on trial.  It is the whole Congress that is. For it is a bunch of criminals who used their lawmaking function to put a transaction in the law in such a way that they would be able to actually make money out of it.  The fact that Revilla is to return P124 million is indubitable proof that he actually made money out of the transaction. 

In living memory, PDAF ranks as the monumental crime of corruption  committed by Congress in the history of our country.  Having a financial interest in a transaction is certainly a graft and corrupt practice on their part.  Those lawmakers who actually passed it should be charged and tried for violating the anti-graft law. They should be banned perpetually from holding public office. 

The Sandiganbayan decision is clearly at odds with the earlier decision of unconstitutionality of PDAF by the Supreme Court.  This Supreme Court decision renders it factually impossible for a mere chief of staff like Cambe to commit plunder without Revilla’s knowledge, much less participation.  

It is Congress itself, composed of the Senate to which Revilla belongs and the House of Representatives, that was convicted along with Cambe and Napoles, because this bunch of criminal lawmakers made it possible for Cambe and Napoles to commit plunder under PDAF.  In a true sense, Congress is a principal by direct participation in the plunder committed by Cambe and Napoles.

Even if Revilla is released from jail, the Senate is put to shame as an institution, because the Senate made it possible for Revilla to illegally earn P124 Million from PDAF which he is ordered to return.  The Senate is a direct participant in the PDAF that Revilla exploited as a Senator to illegally make money.  

Like Revilla,  all the senators who also illegally earned from PDAF have, deep in their conscience, the same legal, if not moral, obligation to return what they illegally got.  The same thing applies to congressmen.

Revilla goes down in history as the infamous senator who actually committed plunder but was acquitted. He committed plunder, because he received and is ordered to return P124 Million. 

To this extent, his acquittal is a perversion of justice of the highest order, and deserves nothing but supreme condemnation, it being a grand judicial cover-up of the biggest PDAF-related corruption in Congress. – Rappler.com