Ex-senator Revilla skips first day of plunder trial

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 22) — Detained former senator Ramon "Bong" Revilla did not attend the first day of his plunder trial over the pork barrel scam.

The Sandiganbayan First Division issued an order for his court appearance on Thursday.

But the former senator couldn't make it because he is confined at the St. Luke's Medical Center in Taguig City.

His lawyers explained his blood pressure shot up while visiting his father, former senator Ramon Revilla Sr., at the hospital on Monday, June 19, which was previously allowed by the court.

"He just felt dizzy thats what I heard, then he had himself checked, and the blood pressure was really elevated," said Ramon Esguerra, one of Revilla's legal counsels.

Revilla's plunder trial begins a little over three years after he was charged with multiple corruption cases at the Sandiganbayan on June 6, 2014.

It was originally scheduled to start in January but was cancelled and rescheduled several times due to various motions filed by Revilla.

The prosecution presented Marissa Santos, a records officer from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), as witness.

She was asked to authenticate documents, mainly Special Allotment Release Orders of Revilla's pork barrel from 2006-2010.

Defense lawyers questioned her competence, saying Santos only became chief of the DBM's Central Records Division administrative office in 2015.

"The fact is rinequest niya yun, rinelease ngayon, so ang nag-trigger nun, si Senator Revilla," state prosecutor Joeferson Toribio told reporters after the hearing.

Revilla's lawyers said the case against their client is weak.

"I think we're in a pretty good position as far as the defense is concerned," Revilla's lawyer Reody Anthony Balisi told reporters.

Revilla is accused of diverting millions of pesos in pork barrel to bogus non-government organizations owned by businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles.