• Surigao mayor denies receiving PDAF

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    The mayor of a municipality that supposedly benefited from former Rep. Edgar Valdez of the Association of Philippine Electric Cooperatives (APEC)’s Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) denied receiving agricultural packages.

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    Mayor Ramon Mondano of Mainit, Surigao del Norte took the stand yesterday and told the court that they did not receive 166 agricultural packages supposedly funded by the PDAF of Valdez. He also denied signing acknowledgment forms and delivery receipts.

    “Wala po kaming natatanggap na livelihood projects. Our municipality has our own agricultural projects,” Mondano said.

    The witness, an incumbent mayor who also held the position from 2007 to 2010, pointed out that the municipality has its own “Palayang Bayan” program and that lawmakers in their district also have their own agricultural programs.

    But defense lawyer Joel Ferrer described the testimony as “immaterial” to the case and maintained that the lawmaker has nothing to do with deliveries.

    “The charge is for plunder, sabi nga accumulation of wealth. Now these witnesses are supposed to testify only on the non-delivery or ghost delivery of the project. This has no connection to the case that is why we are even willing to stipulate as regards the 50 or more supposed beneficiaries whose testimony is such and we don’t have to cross [examine]them on that,” he told reporters after the hearing.

    Valdez is facing a plunder case filed against him in connection with the PDAF or pork barrel scam and has a bail petition being heard by the Sandiganbayan’s Fifth Division.

    Valdez, who allegedly received kickbacks totaling P57.787 million from 2004 to 2010 from his PDAF or pork barrel allocation, is detained in a Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) facility in Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City.

    Businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged architect of the pork barrel scam, and her employee John Raymund De Asis are also respondents in the case.

    According to the Office of the Ombudsman, the funds were intended for livelihood pro-jects, farm inputs and farm implements, agricultural starter kits, technology transfer training via video courses and printed materials, vegetable seeds, gardening packages, knapsack sprayers, concentrated fertilizers, and other tools and equipment.

    But the office found that these were never used for the intended projects because these were considered “ghost” projects, with allegedly fabricated documents submitted for its liquidation.

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