• Sandigan asked: Junk bails of Napoles, Valdez

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    Prosecutors under the Office of the Ombudsman are asking the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan’s Fifth Division to reconsider its ruling granting bail to former Rep. Edgar Valdez of the Association of Philippine Electric Cooperatives and businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles over a P57-million plunder case in connection with the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel scam.

    The prosecution maintained that it presented strong evidence to support the denial of the respondents’ bail petitions.

    In its motion for reconsideration, it argued that Valdez’s alleged “participation was not limited to project identification but extended to the implementation stage.”

    The Ombudsman said in a statement issued on Thursday that the prosecution’s evidence shows that from 2004 to 2010, Valdez allegedly signed endorsement letters and submitted the list of priority projects and allocated budget, identified implementing agencies (IAs) and non-government organizations (NGOs), triggering the release of his PDAF.

    The NGO’s “selection process through competitive public bidding was ignored” and was a “clear deviation from the regular process to unduly influence and exert pressure on the [Ias] to omit the established legal parameters,” according to the prosecution.

    It also asserted that “the amount amassed by accused Valdez reached the threshold of P50 million for the crime of plunder.”

    “[T]he exclusion of several classes of payments to accused Valdez is erroneous” as “the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) Report confirms the payment of kickbacks and commissions to Valdez made through cash or bank transfer,” the prosecution said.

    Citing the AMLC report, it noted that “Valdez received from JLN [Janet Lim-Napoles] or NGOs/foundations used by JLN as conduit to implement the supposed PDAF projects, a total amount of P50,290,810.00.”

    The court granted the bail petitions of Valdez and Napoles last April and set a P1.5 million bail each for their provisional liberty.

    “And, taking all the evidence and the pertinent law and doctrinal rules together, it would appear that for purposes of bail, there appears to be doubt as to the total amount of alleged ill-gotten wealth amassed, accumulated and/or acquired by accused Valdez, directly or indirectly, with Napoles and [John Raymund] de Asis, covered by the instant Information,” the court said in part in its resolution.

    Valdez, who had been detained at a Bureau of Jail Management and Penology facility in Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City (Metro Manila), posted a total of P1.7 million bail in the plunder and graft charges filed against him.

    Meanwhile, Napoles is serving a life sentence at the Correctional Institute for Women in Mandaluyong City (Metro Manila) after a Makati City (Metro Manila) court found her guilty in a serious illegal detention case filed by pork scam witness Benhur Luy.

    Her employee de Asis remains at large.

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